When you think about getting fit—is strength training apart of your vision? It should be. There are a wide-range of benefits from resistance training, and Dr. Travis Russell, D.C., Chiropractic Director of Chiro One Wellness Center of Naperville, believes it’s key to a healthy lifestyle.
“For people of all ages, if your goal is to be as healthy as possible, then strength training is crucial,” says Dr. Travis. “After a few short months, you’ll see noticeable changes in strength levels and in body appearance. And the health benefits will last a lifetime.”
Benefits of Strength Training
There are a myriad of benefits, but perhaps one of the best is a longer lifespan! “Strength training has been shown to increase lifespan by decreasing mortality rates in all major illnesses,” states Dr. Travis. “This has been proven to be true independent of cardiovascular fitness.”
Adding strength training to your routine will also boost your metabolism, burning tons of calories during and after your workouts. You’re also protecting your joints by strengthening your tendons and ligaments—and you might be surprised to learn that you’re helping your body fight osteoporosis. “Resistance-based weight training three times a week at a force of two to three times one’s body weight, triggers bone-building cells and increases bone density,” explains Dr. Travis.
Top Tips to Get You Started
If you’re new to strength training, it can feel daunting to start. Get going with these helpful tips:
Stay in control. Lift and lower with controlled movements. Never use momentum to lift the weight.
Practice proper breathing techniques. Breathe through your stomach utilizing your diaphragm, not your chest. Diaphragmatic breathing and holding your breath during certain phases of the lift will increase spinal stability.
Select the right exercises. The squat, deadlift, bench press and shoulder press are the best strength-building exercises for overall body strength. Be sure to use proper form—don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Choose free weights over machines. Studies show that machines are nowhere near as effective as free weights. Don’t like barbells or dumbbells? There are also plenty of other options beyond machines: your own body weight, resistance bands, weight bars, kettlebells, exercise balls, etc.
Pick the best free weight. A good rule of thumb when using dumbbells is to pick up free weights with one hand, one at a time, until you find the heaviest one you can handle for a certain exercise. Then calculate around 60-70 percent of the weight of the heaviest one—and use that for reps. (For example, if a 15lb. weight is the heaviest you can lift with one hand, 65 percent of that would be about 10lbs.)
Reps vs. Weight. It might seem like the weight is the most important aspect, but that’s not necessarily true. Reps are a critical part of getting strong and building muscle. When training for strength, lower reps around the 3-5 rep range work the best. Medium volume reps around 10-12 will stimulate hypertrophy (growth) and higher reps 20 and above are good for conditioning and endurance.
People with serious cardiovascular conditions or medical or health conditions should always consult their doctor before beginning a strength-training regimen.