Due to our sedentary lifestyles many of us carry too much fat and don’t have enough muscle, and this ages us. Strength training can change this and keep us youthful.
We lose strength as we get older.
We lose strength by being inactive & sedentary.
We lose strength with stress.
We lose strength when in pain, have an injury or experience trauma.
We can lose muscle.
We can lose bone.
We can lose connective tissue strength.
We can lose our balance.
We get weaker, more fragile, less resilient…
And yet it can be preventable with strength training & moving well…
What’s more, with strength training there are many other benefits:
√ Muscle: When you strength train you gain muscle, and muscle is really good for you. Muscle isn’t just for movement – it releases many health positive hormones & anti-inflammatories.
√ Bone: Strength training can build bone strength and reduce osteoporosis fracture risk.
√ Strength without bulk: For women who are not keen on ‘bulk’, muscle strength can be built without excess mass.
√ Metabolism: more muscles means more energy burnt at rest with increased metabolism.
√ Decreased Fat: It can help lose body fat & keep it off – Canadian Christine Hopaluk lost 14 dress sizes & 50+ Kgs, and kept it off for 11 years with strength training…
√ Blood Sugar Control: More muscle also aids the way you use glucose and help prevent or manage Type 2 diabetes.
√ Anti-inflammatory: Strength training also helps reduce chronic inflammation, associated with many chronic illnesses, heart disease, and may help reduce some cancers.
√ Aid Joints: Having stronger muscles is also good for your joints, acting as shock absorbers, and so can be beneficial if you have arthritis.
√ Improve Posture: Avoid the older age hunch – technically called HyperKyphosis. Strength aids your posture. So you look better, feel better, breathe better, and may help prevent spinal fractures as you get older.
√ Improve Balance: It can improve your balance & reduce your risk of falling. When older, falls can be dangerous.
√ Feel Better: Being stronger can help lift your mood – feel more alive, and improve your confidence & self esteem. It may even help you sleep better. When you sleep poorly your well being suffers.
√ More Energy: When you are stronger you can do more, with more energy, and get less tired. Strength is related to endurance. When stronger, you can go for longer before fatigue.
√ Better Brain Function: Strength training may also improve brain function and reduce cognitive decline.
√ People report when they strength train: “I’m 50 but I feel like I’m 30”
Who can Benefit:
Any one can benefit from strength training, but it can be especially helpful for women, and older adults. If you’re over 40 you should be seriously thinking about strength training on a regular basis NOW!
Consider your current state of strength
Are you strong enough for your sport or hobby?
Stand on 1 leg for 15 seconds?
Stand up slowly from a low chair/couch without holding on?
Stand aligned against a wall?
Hold a stable plank without the body dipping?
Do a push up (or at least bench push up) ?
Part 2 : How to Strength Train
You don’t need to be a gym junkie to strength train.
You can strength train in many ways:
1. The First Way is through Awareness
Think about how you do actions. Do you engage your muscles or rely on over stressing your joints. For example do you just flop into the chair or sit down slowly with control? Do you slump or actively try to stand tall or sit upright? Do you take lifts instead of climbing the stairs?
Think about how muscles work…
Muscles contract and shorten (callled concentric movement) to make movements like the biceps (front arm muscle) contracting when you lift the shopping, your quads (thighs) & gluts(buttocks) contract to get up a step, or your chest & back arm muscles (triceps) contract when you push something.
They can contract & stay stationary (called isometric movement) such as the muscles postural muscles of spine & lower abdominals draw in to hold you upright, the outer glut muscles hold pelvis stable when you stand on one leg, or your back wrist muscles hold your hand stable as you grip something.
They can also contract but lengthen (called eccentric movement) such as the quads work as you lower slowly to sit in a chair, or your triceps on the back of the arms work, as you lower yourself into push up.
Can you use your muscles more in these various ways through out the day?
2. The Second Way is to Introduce Strength to your Every Day Life
You can start to use your muscles more in every day life
Practice good posture
Take the stairs
Do squats or lunges while waiting
Stand on one leg while waiting for the kettle to boil
Do wall or bench push ups
Use your muscles with awareness…
3. The Third Way is to Introduce a more traditional way of strength training. (This is a proven and good way to keep going for life.)
Strength train by using some form of resistance to challenge your muscles. In order to get stronger, muscles need challenge or physical stress.
You can use:
Your own body weight ie squat or push up
Free weights like dumb bells, bar bells, kettle bells, medicine balls
Machines like at gyms
With pulleys with weights
And what I really like is Resistance Bands (more about this later)
Muscles don’t know the difference between different resistance devices.
Generally strength training is performed 2 to 3 times per week. Advanced strength trainers may do more. I have known people to gain strength & benefits from even just training once per week.
Training can vary from high intensity (higher loads) to low intensity – low intensity being better for older people, people new to strength training, people with injuries or health issues.
Generally after strength training, you need time for your muscles to recover, This can vary from 1 day to a week depending how hard you trained. Recovery is when you get stronger.
If you strength train & aren’t progressing, consider whether you need more recovery time.
NB: Learn more details about strength training in workshops, courses or one on one supervised training sessions.
4. Another is to introduce Strength Actions to how you do Yoga. (These principles are used in our ‘Bones of Steel’ Yoga for Bones courses.) You can do this with adding isometric work, or more repetitions of weight bearing exercises.
All exercise such as strength training has some risk, but the generally the benefits far outweigh the risks.
To minimise risk:
Remember to breathe
Avoid strain or uncomfortable pain
Start slowly & gently
Begin with low loads
Learn good technique
Move gracefully & with control
Adapt strength training to your personal needs, health & fitness
Get a medical assessment from your doctor or Health professional to see what modifications you may need to make with your strength training.
Be especially careful if you are an older adult; don’t try to do a high intensity program suited to 20 year olds. We can strength train well into our 90’s, but modifications will be required.
5. If you don’t know how to Strength Train then it may be best to do a workshop, course, or one on one supervised training (with an appropriately trained Exercise Professional, such as a physiotherapist, or exercise physiologist.)
There a re lots of different types of strength training:
- Core & posture
- Balance improvement
- Lower limbs
- Upper limbs
- Holistic: integrating the whole body
- Functional or for sport
- For Bones
The key to strength training is to PRACTICE – to do it…
Consider what may stop you from strength training:
Don’t have time – but remember it may only take 2 sessions of 20 minutes
Don’t know how – lots of ways to learn
Afraid may get hurt – it’s low risk, and you can get guidelines from health professionals .
A most common reason is the lack of confidence in being able to do it – practice while being supervised and be confident – even 96 year olds have been shown to get stronger.
Maybe you lack of interest or have boredom – create interest , set yourself a goal. The best goal is internal “How well you will feel with a little effort!”
Also Train with family, friends, in a group.
Change it up regularly & have some fun eg get some music.
Soreness after training may also stop you – but remember soreness is natural, not harmful, and gets better with more exercise.
Sometimes it is also good to take a holiday, but remember to come back to training
Also Don’t become extreme or over attached – boot camp is not long term
Strength training is for life
Yoga Plus Therapies offers many strength training options for learning:
- ‘Bones of Steel’ BOS Yoga for Bones
- Strength Training with Bands STB Workshop Introduction
- Strength Training with Bands STB Workshop Holistic Training
- Strength Training with Bands STB Classes
- Strength Training with Bands STB Supervised One on One Sessions
Why We Use Resistance Bands to Strength Train
Studies have show resistance band workouts give you the same strength benefits, if not better in some ways, as conventional strength training using weights & machines. Resistance bands are portable so you can take with you where veer you travel, and they don’t cost a lot.
Research show resistance band strength training works: older adults, young adult, women, health issues, and so forth.
They offer benefits like other strength training as describe above and they also:
• Do depend on gravity so you can strength train functionally in multiple ways. Great for sport training also.
• They strength in a variable way – this means the resistance gets stronger as the bands lengthen. This can increase the intensity of the muscle to stimulate strengthening.
• Unlike weights they can be harder to cheat as you can’t use momentum.
• They are fun to use
• They can Improve strength in 6 to 7 weeks by 10 to 30%…
So why not try some strength training using resistance bands…
Carmen Chai Global News 2017 “8 Reasons why weight training is incredible for your health”
Harvard Medical Healthbeat “Want to live longer and better? Do strength training”
Paula Goodyer Sydney Morning Herald 2017 “The science of strength: Seven ways muscles makes us healthier”
Colado et el “ A comparison of Elastic Tubing and Isotonic Resistance Exercises” https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Juan_Carlos_Colado/publication/45630872_A_Comparison_of_Elastic_Tubing_and_Isotonic_Resistance_Exercises/links/0046351b442548a9b1000000/A-Comparison-of-Elastic-Tubing-and-Isotonic-Resistance-Exercises.pdf?origin=publication_detail
Bicer et el “ Effect of Strength Training Program with Elastic Band on Strength Parameters” D.O.I: http: doi.org/10.4127/jbe.2015.0095
Iversen et el “Multiple-joint exercises using elastic resistance bands vs. conventional resistance-training equipment: A cross- over study” European J of Sport Science 2017 vOl 17 Issue