Sharing the health benefits of strength training. Some people have the wrong idea about ‘strength’ training. The idea that they will become ‘bulky’ or overly muscly.
Firstly, let’s talk benefits:
The Australian physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines recommend that adults do muscle strengthening activities on at least two days each week.
The physical and mental health benefits that can be achieved by resistance training include:
Improved muscle strength and tone – decreasing the risk of injury and everyday activities become easier.
It helps you remain independent as you age, stops you from becoming weak.
Gives you a higher metabolic rate – when you do resistance training you create tiny muscular tears, and after your work out (even when you are sleeping) your body uses calories to repair those tiny tears, which is the process of building lean muscle
Weight management and an increased muscle to fat ratio – as you gain muscle, your body burns more kilojoules to fuel that active muscle (more muscle = higher metabolism).
Increased stamina – as you grow stronger, you won’t get tired as easily.
Prevention/control of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, back pain, depression and obesity.
Improved mobility, balance
Increased bone density and strength and reduced risk of osteoporosis
Improved sense of wellbeing – resistance training may boost your self-confidence, improve your body image and your mood
A better night’s sleep and decreasing sleeping issues
Addressing the ‘bulky’ thoughts
To become extremely muscly is NO easy task. Muscle builder’s work extremely hard to be as muscly as they are; they lift seriously MAXIMAL heavy weights, every day, and eat enormous amounts of food in order to build muscle.
This idea of putting on too much muscle is especially common in women who don’t want to get big and “bulky,” so they tend to do exercises they think burn the most calories (repetitive cardio) and try to just “tone” their muscles with light weight, high reps, doing the same weight and exercises.
This is actually not the best option, and is not challenging your muscles enough to see change. You may burn a few hundred calories during a cardio workout, and maybe a hundred more in a lightweight circuit, and this is good for a beginner, but continuing this repetitively will not re-shape how your bodies look. If you want to tone your body and build LEAN muscle, then strength training is worth trying – functional lifts and slowly increasing the weight you use. ‘But will I get bulky?’ No! – and I will briefly explain why.
For the women
The main reason lifting weights won’t make women become bulky is that they simply don’t have the testosterone levels to put on a lot of muscle. Men have much higher testosterone levels than women, and women have higher oestrogen levels than men. Testosterone is the primary muscle-building hormone in the body. Since women have significantly less testosterone, they simply cannot put on muscle mass as easily as men. Women who WANT to build bigger muscles, and work seriously hard to do so, will STILL build muscle at a much lesser rate that men do.
Even MEN have to work REALLY hard weightlifting for weeks to become bulky. Balancing out your high intensity training with two or three 45 minute strength sessions will not do the job of making you bulky. It will just help build lean muscle, increase your strength and decrease fat, as the active lean muscle that you gain burns more energy helping to burn fat.
When you use light weights the muscles are barely challenged so your muscles won’t feel any need to change and grow, as they can easily handle what you are doing.
So include strength training and push yourself with the weight-that’s when you will improve and will start see lean muscle definition. Lets not forget that your nutrition is the key to fat levels, but weights can create lean muscle and change how your body looks. Don’t be scared of weights-Don’t become weaker as you get older. Push your body – you are stronger than you think!
On the flip side – if you are looking to build a lot of muscle mass, you need to progressively lift heavy weights on a regular basis, and you also need to be consistently eating MORE calories from protein, carbs and fat. You need to be in a calorie surplus in order to make big muscle gains. To gain big muscle mass you need to generate an enormous degree of force with you’re lifting, pushing yourself to the max and beyond the limits of comfort.