If your current exercise regimen doesn’t include strength training, we’ve got some bad news: you can’t achieve optimal fitness without it. Whether your goal is to lose weight, tone up, or just maintain general health, you need muscle to make it happen. So consider this your wake up call: we’ve got five reasons you won’t get in shape without strength training. But first, let’s bust two myths that may have held you back from strength training in the first place.
Myth #1: It Will Make You Bulk Up
If you’re a woman who’s been avoiding strength training out of fear it will make you bulky…it won’t! You would have to be consuming massive amounts of protein and lifting weights 24/7 to get big, bulky muscles that would qualify you for bodybuilder status. For most of us mere mortals, weight training will not create a bulky shape—it actually keeps you slim and toned. more on that in a little bit.
Myth #2: You Need a Bunch of Equipment or A Gym Membership
Maybe you’ve been putting off strength training because when you hear the words “strength training” you picture all those elaborate weight machines at the gym. Here’s the real deal: all you need to get started with strength training is your own bodyweight, and maybe a set of dumbbells—no million-dollar investment required. Bodyweight strength training at home is just as effective as using weights or machines. Honest.
5 Reasons You Won’t Get In Shape Without Strength Training
Alright, so we’ve busted two major myths that might be holding you back from building that muscle! Now, just in case that didn’t convince you to get going, here are five critical reasons why you won’t get in shape without strength training. Remember: it’s never too late to start!
1. Boosts Your Metabolism
As you age, your metabolism begins to slow down. One great way to revive it is by strength training. Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is how many calories your body burns at rest; the more muscle you have on your body, the higher that metabolic rate is. Essentially, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism works. Let that sink in: more muscle means a faster metabolism. A revved up metabolism is literally what keeps you slim and helps you lose weight!
2. Improves Your Athletic Performance
The stronger you are, the better your athletic performance will be across the board, whether on the tennis court, in a 5k, or on the ski slopes. Strength training is one form of exercise that can help improve any other form of exercise you do. Particularly if you’re a runner, strength training your lower body with plyometrics and bodyweight training can help you run faster. If you play tennis, a stronger upper body will help you achieve a more powerful swing. Incorporating strength training into your weekly routine will make you more powerful in all your other workouts. How cool is that?
3. Prevents Injury
The stronger your muscles are, the less likely you’ll be to get injured during everyday tasks or workouts. How? Strong muscles protect your bones and joints when they’re in motion and make your ligaments better at absorbing the shock they endure during dynamic movements. To avoid random strains and sprains, incorporate weekly strength training into your routine. Injury prevention is important, especially as you age—and it’s an often-overlooked benefit of building muscle.
4. Gives You A Toned Appearance
As we stated above, strength training will not make you bulk up. It will however, help you achieve that coveted toned appearance everyone wants. People throw around the word “toned” a lot, but what do we really mean when we say that? We mean long, lean muscles with a nice, sculpted appearance. You achieve all of this through strength training. Cardio workouts help burn calories and get your heart pumping, which is critical for your overall heart health and weight management. But as that fat starts to melt off, you also need to strength train if you want any toned definition.
5. Boosts Balance and Coordination
Regular strength training improves your balance and coordination, which helps you do just about everything, from yoga and dance to daily tasks. The concept of functional fitness is one that applies to strength training in particular—it’s the notion that you need to maintain the ability to simply do simple things and move in different ranges of motion. Bending, lifting, balancing—all of these movements are actually very important as you age. If you can strength train, it will help you stay more coordinated and capable throughout the years.
Quick Total-Body Strength Training Workouts
So…you’re on board with incorporating strength training to your routine. What should you do? Here are some of our favorite strength training workout (some with dumbbells, some with just your own bodyweight) that will work all the major muscle groups. Aim to strength train 2-3 times per week in addition to your other workouts. Strong is the new sexy!
A pair of dumbbells and a little room to move are all you need to squeeze in a great strength workout. With moves like renegade rows and Russian twists, you’ll work your arms and abs. With lunges and squat thrusters, you’ll work your legs and glutes!
No equipment is necessary for this quick bodyweight strength workout! You’ll strength train every major muscle group: your glutes, your arms, your legs, and your abs—all using your own bodyweight. If you have extra time, run through the sequence two or three times for an extra-killer routine.
From our Definitions program on Get Healthy U TV, we love Total Body Firm Up. It’s a total-body circuit style workout that utilizes moves like squats and lunges combined with dumbbell moves like an overhead press to train multiple muscle groups at once. You’ll get both an amazing strength training workout and a fair amount of cardio in this routine which will have both your heart pumping and your muscles working. Win win!