Strength training or resistance training uses a form of resistance to build muscle strength. Strength training not only improves muscle mass, it also mitigates the effects of arthritis, obesity and osteoporosis, just to name a few.
The most common technique of strength training is the process of progressively increasing the force of the muscle being used by progressively increasing the resistance against that muscle. For instance, a person new to strength training may use a 5-pound dumbbell to do bicep curls. After the muscle gets used to that weight, the weight is then increased in order to work the muscle harder again.
As we get older, we naturally lose muscle mass. For every decade after age 30, 5 pounds of mass is lost. That number can be regained by routinely making strength training part of your regular exercise routine. In other words, strength training can slow your physiological aging clock. It will also help you sleep better by falling asleep more quickly and sleeping deeper.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in metabolic rate”. This means the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. Muscles that are active – even while at rest – use calories while stored fat uses very little.
Free weights, weight machines and body weight exercises are the three main methods of performing resistance training. The method you use depends on what your overall goals are as well as your access to equipment. Body weight exercises are done with body weight providing the resistance. Think push-ups, lunges and ab crunches. Weight machines allow you to choose the amount of resistance you want by adding or removing weighted plates from the machine. Here, think leg press, lat pull-downs and leg curls. Free weights use individual weights in the form of dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells to perform the exercise. They allow for greater range of motion and customization of a workout routine. Examples here include kettlebell swings, bicep curls and triceps extensions.