It’s spring in Calgary. The weather is getting nicer and you are itching to get outside and “burn off” the “spare tire” around your middle that seemed to appear over the winter. This is common, but many people are tempted to forget strength training and head outdoors for some aerobic exercise.
Doing cardio can be great, but beware: if you give up your strength training, you will give up more than you bargained for.
Why is strength training so important?
Strength training is critical for great fitness. Without it, your muscles will atrophy (decrease and get weaker).
Beginning at age 20, we begin naturally losing muscle mass every decade. It takes work to maintain it. The great news is that it’s WELL WORTH THE EFFORT to maintain and build your muscle over time.
There’s a common saying that’s a variation on the “use it or lose it” philosophy that states “If you aren’t building muscle, you are likely losing it”.
We’ve all experienced this phenomenon before. If you have broken a limb (arm or leg), or know someone who has, do you remember what the limb looked like when the cast was removed? Besides being pasty white, the limb was smaller, weaker, and less coordinated. It’s important to understand that even a few weeks of disuse will cause the muscle to begin the atrophy process.
More good news: YOU are in CONTROL of this process!
Here are some of the benefits of strength training:
Stops or slows muscle loss.
Builds new muscle.
Improves function in life (carrying groceries to picking up boxes).
Look and feel more fit.
Increase bone density, connective tissue strength and make your entire body stronger
Improves balance and coordination.
Reduce joint pain and mobility concerns.
Stronger tendon and bone connections reduce the risk of injury.
Increase metabolism to burn more calories all day every day.
Build a stronger heart.
Reduces blood pressure.
Decreases blood sugar, and lowers the risk of insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes).
Improves your aerobic capacity: the stronger your muscles, the better your endurance.
Gives you a general feeling of wellness and strength.
Makes you a better athlete in the Sport of Life!
Prevents the weak, frail “skinny-fat” look.
Raises your energy level. The more muscle you have, the less effort you have to exert and the more energy you have available.
Secures future protection against falls and fractures. If you age with dense bones, strong muscles, and good balance, your risk of injury plummets.
Creates 22% more afterburn than aerobic exercise does. (Afterburn refers to the fat and calories that your body burns in the hours after you have finished your workout.)
Are you still tempted to give up strength training? If not, we have provided a short video on resistance band exercises for beginners:
Why aerobic exercise is not enough?
“But,” the question goes, “Can’t I just go for a run and build muscle? I’m using muscles when I run!”
The answer is NO! Running or another aerobic exercise is not a replacement for strength training. They are different exercises and provide different benefits. Aerobic exercise does not deliver the needed stress to your bones, muscles, and tendons.
In order to build strength, you have to pull hard on tendons, do microscopic damage to your muscles, and literally bend your bones. Going out for a run or putting in an hour on the treadmill will not do this sufficiently.
This is not to say that aerobic exercise is not important: it is! But it is not strength training. You need both. And if you omit one, you do your body a great disservice.
Avoid the “skinny fat” syndrome.
Another danger of focusing on cardio or aerobic exercise to the exclusion of strength training is becoming what is known as “skinny fat.” Skinny fat is a condition in which a person appears thin on the outside, but inside they are unhealthy and at risk for illness.
If you are losing weight through diet and exercise but not simultaneously doing strength training, you are not only losing fat: you are losing muscle as well. Your body will burn through your muscles tissue as surely as it will burn through your fat. As you lose muscle, you lose a major source of energy, and you lose tone and definition.
Further, as you lose muscle, your bones become weak, because they do not have to do as much work. Weak bones are a precursor to osteoporosis.
Hidden fat is also a risk for the “skinny fat” person. When 800 slim people underwent an MRI scan to check for visceral or hidden fat, 45% were found to have excessive amounts of internal fat, undetectable from the outside.
Visceral fat is the most dangerous fat to have because it accumulates around organs such as the pancreas, heart, and liver and then begins releasing hormones and other secretions that lead to disease.
Strength training can reduce visceral fat!
It can also help prevent the additional formation around the organs.
Don’t give up your strength training just because spring is here and you are eager to get outside. There is no substitute for lifting heavy weights 2 to 3 times each week.
Your health is on the line. GET AFTER IT!
Learn a better approach to fitness, fat loss, and living a fabulous life! Book your free Complimentary Success Coaching Session.
Or, if you prefer exercising on your own, you can kick start your fitness with our 7-day Home Fitness Jumpstart Program.