When you increase your skeletal muscle mass, you increase your strength. Some of the obvious benefits are improved appearance, increased energy and vitality, increased ability to perform routine tasks and an increased metabolism that will help burn extra calories.
This extra muscle mass is able to be built with progressive resistance (weight) training that gets harder as you get stronger. Weight training is vital in order to not have a decline in muscle mass over your lifetime. You can do strength exercises at home or at the gym. You may use free weights, weight machines, resistance bands or simply your own body weight to achieve results.
Most trainers recommend doing three sets of each exercise, with each set consisting of 8-12 repetitions. You should rest for 60-90 seconds between sets. It is important to perform the resistance slowly. Proper form and function throughout the exercise will decrease your risk of injury or muscle damage. You should lift the resistance to a count of 2, hold for 1 second, and then lower slowly to the count of 4. This ensures that muscle, and not momentum, is being used during the weight training.
It is important to exercise all the major muscle groups of the body. Include your legs, arms, back, chest and abdomen in your routines. You may want to work with a personal trainer who can help you learn how to lift safely and properly. By working with someone trained in strength training you can achieve your goals much sooner. It is also advisable to have a “workout buddy” to help keep you compliant each day.
Sample Strength Exercises
- Bicep curls
- Tricep extension
- Lat pull-down
- Seated row
- Chest press / fly
- Shoulder press
- Upright row
- Leg press, squats or lunges
- Leg curl
- Calf raises
- Abdominal crunches
You should plan on strength training three times a week with a day off for recovery between routines. You should alternate between the upper body and lower body exercises every other workout. When you begin weight training you can expect your muscles to feel a bit sore. Sore muscles are actually good because it means they are being used. Consider using omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) to help with pain and inflammation, as well as using Ultra InflamX Plus 360 medical food as a pre- and post-workout protein source. This is very effective.
Important Strength Training Tips
- Always warm up before you exercise
- Make sure you work each muscle or muscle group to fatigue
- Start with light weights
- Continue to challenge your muscles by increasing and making your workout a bit harder as you get stronger
- You can challenge yourself by several methods: increasing reps, increasing sets, increasing weight, or decreasing rest time
- Perform your strength training every other day. Give your body a day to rest and recover after each workout
- Do gentle stretching after each workout
- Change up your routine every four to six weeks to prevent boredom and to encourage “muscle confusion” which will help you achieve continued results
Start a 6-week commitment and feel how much stronger and healthier you will be with that commitment.