By Nancy Owais
When we want to lose weight, the first thing we do is change our diet. We start to cut out refined sugar, eat fewer grains, and increase fruits and vegetables. We may even use the gym membership we are paying for. Before going for the treadmill, consider adding strength training to your routine. Strength training is a type of exercise that involves using resistance to build muscle and increase endurance. This resistance can come in weights, resistance bands, or even bodyweight exercises. When you are strength training, you are causing microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. Although it sounds like a bad thing, it's actually necessary for muscle growth. As your body repairs these tears, it builds new muscle tissue, making your muscles stronger and more defined.
Many people, especially women, equate strength training with gaining a lot of muscle, not weight loss. However, more and more research has shown the immense advantages of adding strength training to your routine. Some of the many benefits of strength training include:
Building muscle: An essential component of weight loss is building muscle. As we build muscle, we lose fat. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be, which means you will burn more calories, even when you are resting.
Burning more calories: Strength training can help you burn more calories than cardio exercises because it requires more energy to build muscle. As your muscle mass increases, the number of calories you burn at rest also increases.
Increasing bone density: Bone density is very important, especially for women. As women, we lose bone density as we age. Strength training can help increase bone density so we can prevent osteoporosis.
Improve balance and coordination: Strength training can help improve balance and coordination, which can help reduce the risk of falls. This is especially important for the elderly as they will maintain their independence and not rely on others for help.
It can be done at home: Are you a homebody? Are gyms intimidating? Do you prefer the privacy of your own home? A great advantage of strength training is that it can be done in the comfort of your home!
The thought of incorporating strength training can be daunting to some. However, if you are new or shy in the gym, there are great exercises that can be done at home. Some of these exercises include:
Squats: Stand with your feet SHOULDER-WIDTH apart and slowly lower your body as if you were sitting in a chair. Keep your weight on your heels and your knees over your toes. Return to the starting position, and repeat!
Lunges: Stand with your feet HIP-WIDTH apart, and take a large step forward with one foot. Lower your body until your front knee is at a 90-degree angle. Return to the starting position, and repeat with the other leg.
Push-Ups: Start in a plank position with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower your body until your chest almost touches the ground. Push back up to the starting position, and repeat.
Dumbbell Rows: Hold a dumbbell in one hand, and bend your knees slightly. Lean forward, and place your other hand on a bench or chair for support. Lift the dumbbell to your chest, and lower it back down. Repeat on the other side.
Deadlifts: Stand with your feet HIP-WIDTH apart, and hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand. Slowly lower your body, keeping your back straight until the weights touch the ground. Return to the starting position, and repeat.
Strength training is a great way to lose weight, build muscle, and improve overall health. Over time, lifting more weights and increasing weight will get easier and easier! Results will not happen overnight, so patience is key when starting a strength training regimen. It is important to maintain good posture so as not to pull a muscle or hurt yourself. Getting to the gym and having a trainer initially is a great way to get into strength training.