In this article, we’ve got you covered. We’ll answer the top 10 questions we get asked about strength training, and we’ll even give you a sample routine you can try out today.
So if you have any hesitations about strength training, wait no further. Strength Training 101 is now in session.
1. What Is Strength Training, Exactly?
When you hear “strength training” you might think of a barbell loaded with weight, but there’s a lot more to it than that. (And many more options beyond doing heavy squats or beefy deadlifts.)
At Girls Gone Strong, we sometimes use the terms resistance training and strength training interchangeably. In technical terms, resistance training is any type of training in which the muscles work against some form of resistance. These types of movements or exercises impose an increasing demand on your muscles and central nervous system, causing an adaptation. That “adaptation” is your body getting stronger.
Here’s how it works.
When you apply a stressor, your muscles respond to and work against the stress. This movement against resistance causes microtears in your muscle fibers, and these tears are what stimulate the body to begin rebuilding the muscle. When you repeatedly stress and rebuild, stress and rebuild, you end up gaining muscle and increasing the efficiency of your neural pathways. All that to say, you are able to more efficiently perform the same (or similar) task in the future.
Say, for example, that bodyweight lunges are really challenging for you. With practice (repeated stress), your body is forced to rebuild those recruited muscles to be bigger and stronger and your brain learns and refines that movement pattern. Eventually, the movement becomes easier.
And while this is the most common form of training for building strength, the goal may not always (or only) be to get stronger. It is also useful for building muscle mass, losing body fat, improving certain aspects of physical performance, and rehabilitating an injury.
2. Is Strength Training Really That Important?
Strength training is really valuable for optimal health. Benefits can include:
- Increased muscle growth, strength, power, recovery, and endurance.
- Increased integrity of bone and connective tissues.
- Increased metabolism.
- Increased insulin sensitivity.
- Reduced rate of injury.
- Reduced lower back pain.
- Slowing of age-related declines like strength and bone loss.
- Prevention of osteoporosis (a disease characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue) and osteoarthritis (a common form of arthritis where the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time).
Strength training can be especially vital in helping us stay active, prevent falls, and enjoy a better quality of life as we age.
There’s also a psychological component.
Strength training can be incredibly empowering because it shines a spotlight on all the things our amazing bodies are capable of, rather than on what our bodies look like.
So many times I’ve heard clients and friends say that they wish they would have started strength training when they were younger. I totally get that. It can make you feel stronger, more confident, and more willing to “take up space”. With some practice, strength training can transform from feeling like something you “should” do to being something that gives you life!
Like our GGS Coaching grad Sarah puts it: “It’s like I’m a totally different person. I trust my body. I have faith in it. I feel really strong. I’m 42, and I’ve just had two children. You wouldn’t think that this would be the time that that would happen. It feels really good.”