Improving Health Through Strength Training
“Most people give up right before the big break comes—don’t let that person be you.” —Michael Boyle, Red Sox Trainer
When most people think of strength training, they associate it with those who are younger and want to bulk up, or gain that buffed body building physique. But strength training is an important part of being healthy and staying that way.
Fact is, sticking with a workout is hard. There are often time restraints and limited resources that can slow or stop a workout. Often, it comes down to motivation, but for employees with busy schedules or parents with kids to look after, it can feel like there are more barriers than opportunities.
When it comes to your physical fitness, it’s not about prioritizing your schedule, it’s about scheduling your priorities. If this means getting up early, then make some time to do so. If this means staying up late or working it in your lunch break, then that is something that needs to happen.
The important thing is to do something. When idolizing about your workout, if you can’t make time for a full hour, do what you can during the time you have. This could mean push-ups in your cubicle, a quick 7-minute HIIT before work, or simply taking the stairs when given the opportunity.
Finding the Time to Workout
“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’” —Muhammad Ali, Boxing Champion
In an article for Men’s Fitness, actor Matthew McConaughey discusses how to work out at home or on the road with various bodyweight exercises. While he may hit the gym with trainer Peter Park when his next role requires it, between takes he will find workouts that can be done anywhere.
If traveling, the actor will jog or perform springs, do some push-ups or one-legged squats between takes. At home, McConaughey will do a few pull-ups on his kids’ swing set and perform a few kettle bell swings in his driveway, followed by a long bike ride for fun and fitness.
When Analysis Paralysis Enters Your Workout
Knowing is not enough; we must apply —Bruce Lee, Martial Artist
There are literally millions (if not billions) of websites and books related to physical fitness. With so many resources, it’s easy to spend weeks studying on what to
That said, safety is of course the main priority within the gym. Adding muscle and losing weight will always be second and third on your list. After all, if you get hurt your first week in the gym or at your home workout station, you may not be back the second week.
Master your technique to master your workout.
Why Should You Start Bodyweight Training?
“If something stands between you and your success, move it. Never be denied.” —Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Actor
Getting in shape doesn’t have to be a complicated feat. In fact, it’s the easiest way to tone up, build strength, improve flexibility, and rally your overall health. Best of all, performing bodyweight exercises is free and can be performed almost anywhere. And remember, starting early and raising active kids will help them a great deal later in life.
First of all, bodyweight strength training is super-efficient. High-output, bodyweight exercises such as plyometrics can mean big gains and a short amount of time. With as little as 7-15 minutes each day, you can greatly improve your cardiovascular health, stamina, and strength with an HIIT workout. Dr. Axe promotes a wonderful home exercise program known as BurstFit, see video at end of this article.
Bodyweight strength training combines cardio and muscle building in one action. Performing something as simple as 60-second burpees or high-knees between strength exercises, like push-ups, can keep your heartbeat up and help with muscle development.
Strength training can also help you burn fat quickly. Even a short period of bodyweight circuit training can have a major impact on your overall metabolism. This is due to the afterburn effect, which means that your body continues to work hours after the workout.
Bodyweight resistance training is great because it’s difficult for everyone. Since it works with your specific bodyweight, it’s ideal for experts as well as those using strength training for beginners. Adding extra reps, taking shorter breakers, or changing the pace of the exercise can also increase or decrease the challenge.
Core strength training is also very important within bodyweight strength training. This is more than just your potential six-pack. Core strengthening exercises work around twenty-nine muscles within the trunk of the body.
Even simple core exercises can engage all of these muscles to shape tighter abdominals, improve overall posture, relieve back stress, and improve balance along with performance.
In addition to the many reasons above, resistance training or strength training can improve flexibility. Bodyweight training, when performed properly, can combine strength and flexibility.
Look for exercises that use a full range of motion and stick with that proper technique. Yoga is a favorite no-equipment workout that can improve both flexibility and strength. It is also a popular method of strength training for women.
Core strengthening exercises also improve your overall balance. A normal squat can mean improved leg muscles, but when you reach the next step, a one-legged squat will greatly improve overall balance and functional movements. This will help with awareness and control for physical and mental activities. A running or jogging routine is helpful here (even brisk walking).
Additional Benefits of a Bodyweight Strength Training Program
“You want me to do something…tell me I can’t do it.” —Maya Angelou, Writer
If it’s not enough that this strength training program is completely free, always accessible, and can benefit sleep, self-esteem, metabolism, immunity, mood, and bone density, there are other reasons to start a bodyweight strength training program.
First of all, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends strength training within every adult fitness program but most people still don’t take advantage of such a great exercise program.
Since most people make excuses such as lack of time, gym memberships are too expensive, or being a beginner, but simply doing bodyweight exercises in a strength training program can beat all of these excuses.
On average, Americans lose about six pounds of lean muscle each decade of life. Some researchers even believe that our metabolic rate will decrease 3 to 8 percent each decade after the age of 20, which means additional lean muscle loss.
In order to fight this decrease of metabolism and lean muscle loss, building muscle mass is vital. The only way to do so is by lifting things that are heavy and doing so properly, but this doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym.
Simply stressing your body and your muscles with weights will make you stronger, but that can be in the form of a dumbbell, weights on a bar, or using your body in a push-up, pull-up, plank or otherwise.
When it comes to using your own bodyweight, it couldn’t be easier to find a workout plan that fits your needs. Bodyweight resistance training is customizable and can be done almost anywhere as minimal space is needed.
Performing bodyweight strength training doesn’t require a gym membership or equipment and it can be done in 7 to 30 minutes, depending on what you particularly want to accomplish. If free weights or treadmills seem intimidating, start with bodyweight exercises.
Additional Reasons to do Bodyweight Exercises
“A man’s health can be judged by which he takes two at a time—pills or stairs.” —Joan Welsh
While cardio (aerobic) exercises have their own benefits, building muscle is just as important to matter what you wish to accomplish. For those who don’t want to bulk up, consider that you’re simply fighting to hang on to your current muscle mass.
Different studies confirm that strength training also improves:
- Lean muscle mass
- Lower stress levels
- Better oxygen for muscles
- Reduced bone and joint pains
- More energy
- Reduced risk of stroke
- Increased resting metabolic rate
- Increased insulin sensitivity, reducing chance of diabetes
- Healthier blood pressure
- Healthier blood cholesterol
- Better sleep
If that’s not enough, bodyweight exercises also reverse negative effects of chronic dieting or yo-yo dieting. While diets should help improve muscle composition, diets can take muscle tissue when calorie consumption is lower than normal. This goes right along with eating healthy meals.
Muscle is important for living a healthy weight as it is critical for metabolically active muscle tissues. For muscle more calories are required, not less.
How Much Training is Needed Each Week to Maintain Muscle?
“I don’t care what you used to bench…” —Serge Ceralde
Strength training should be performed two or three times each week. If only twice, both times should shoot for full-body workouts, meaning your back, legs, chest, and abdominal or core should be worked.
Within each workout, shoot for 8 to 10 different types of exercises and the main focus of each exercise should hit a different muscle. Once each set is complete, aim for about 12 reps.
In addition to these important workouts, try to stretch at least twice per week to avoid potential injuries from happening. This will also increase range of motion, recovery time, and overall flexibility.
How to Build Muscle Through Strength Training
“Don’t have $100 shoes and a 10-cent squat.” —Louis Simmons, Trainer
Building strength is vital to maintain a strong metabolism as you get older. Building muscle increases muscle mass, which declines with age. Muscle mass is crucial when trying to maintain a healthy weight, along with its powers to fight or improve insulin sensitivity, hormonal balance, and thyroid functions.
The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be. This means that if you’re in better shape, you’ll actually need more calories to stay that way. That’s right, you get to eat more and stay in better shape.
Muscular athletes get away with each a lot of food. The idea is to eat more healthier foods, but some athletes can even sneak in McDonald’s once in a while and it doesn’t hurt as much as it helps.
This is because building muscle means burning fat. Once you’re in shape, this can happen while you’re at rest or sleeping. Bodyweight exercises also improve growth hormone production, which is a like the mythical fountain of youth for your body.
Lifting weights of any kind, even resistance bands will improve your cardio workouts as well because they improve enhanced strength and performance. Starting bodyweight exercises and strength training has a snowball effect that can improve all other health aspects.
Improving Heart Health and Fighting Diabetes
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” —Jim Rohn, Speaker
Any exercises will help pump blood to the heart and make it stronger. This also reduces blood pressure on a natural level while increasing circulation. The heart, like any muscle, will adapt and perform its job better by simply do bodyweight exercises.
These strength training exercises help with healthier blood cholesterol and lower the chance of a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes. Regular strength training increase all types of longevity and can even fight risks for cancer.
Patients recovering from heart attacks are often recommended to perform resistance exercises to build strength.
In addition, as mentioned, performing bodyweight resistance training can help as a natural remedy for diabetes. It helps remove excess glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream and moves that glucose to muscles as glycogen for later energy.
Not only does this improve things in your bloodstream, but it also stops glycation from occurring the bloodstream. This is something that happens naturally overtime, which damages tissues, blood vessels, and even organs.
There Are No Excuses with Bodyweight Resistance Training
“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion.” —Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Bodybuilder
Most people will often relate their inability to exercise is an issue with limited time or inconvenience within their schedule. With bodyweight strength training or bodyweight resistance training, this is no longer a valid excuse.
After all, your body is always with you, so only the mind can limit your potential.
Bodyweight strength training only requires a little bit of space so you can squeeze into your living room, workout in the backyard, or do exercises in a hotel room while traveling. Exercising without equipment is the ultimate stress reliever whether you’re home or away.
Having unlimited options also means that you can always mix up your workout so you’ll never get bored with a workout. The gym can quickly feel like the same old thing, but bodyweight strength training can change as often as you want it to and it will, depending on when and where you can find the time to workout.
The gym’s treadmills, bench presses and lat pull-downs are repetitive. Bodyweight training can be a refreshing change of pace, plus you never have to compromise your workout to wait on a machine to free up. Jogging or running is also good to incorporate into your program. Your strength training program will not need to plateau and can always progress.
Along with your “no excuses” mentality, this means you can also workout inside or outside. Add strength training exercises or resistance training to your next walk in the park or long hike. Toss in a bodyweight circuit to your next swim. There are countless ways to change up your tired old workout and make it fun again.
Start Your Resistance Workout Today
“Just do it.” —Nike
Now that you know all of the benefits of bodyweight exercises, it’s time to start today. Don’t wait until Monday or until it feels right. Start right now. Integrate these exercises into your schedule to build overall strength and fight diseases.
Create your own circuit workout by combining 5 to 10 bodyweight exercises (for now) and do these circuits 2 to 4 times per week with resting days in between. Start with something like sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, lunges, planks, wall-sits, tricep dips, reverse flies, bicycles, squats, burpees, tuck-jumps, or mountain climbers.
What Does This Mean For You?
Do what feels right in the beginning and always focus on safety and good form. Improve on reps or frequency, as you get better. Your body will thank you for years to come, and the results will be truly surprising!