When thinking about strength training, it is common for people to picture buffed up body builders and heavy dumb bells. The truth is though that strength training is for everyone and holds a vital role in maintaining our health and function as we begin to age.
What is strength training?
By definition strength is the ability of muscle to produce force. This does not describe the amount of force but simply the ability to be able to produce any!
Strength focused training comes in many different forms and there is something out there for everyone! Strength training focuses on using resistance through body weight, free weights, machines or anything else that is heavy to produce increased force output from the muscle. When this occurs consistently over time the contractility of the muscle improves, and our nervous system adjusts by increasing the body’s ability to produce force through optimising the use of the nervous system.
The main aim of strength training to improve the body’s ability to move more weight over time. Even if gaining strength and muscle mass is not your goal, improving your strength will allow you to get the full benefits from all other forms of exercise.
Why is it important?
Muscular strength plays a crucial role in our ability to perform everyday tasks and function well. As we age it is even more important to maintain a level of strength as after the age of 50 there is a 15% muscle mass and strength loss per decade! Maintaining muscle mass and strength as you age has been shown to prevent further musculoskeletal issues, chronic conditions, frailty, loss of independence, poor mental health and decreased quality of life. If that’s not a good enough reason to starting strength training, I don’t know what is!
Below is a list of just some of the many benefits gained from strength training:
Where do I start?
So, you are keen to get started but aren’t sure how? If you have no current musculoskeletal injuries or chronic conditions you can start slow and gradually at home. Use light weights to begin and progress up over time. If you are currently experiencing an injury, pain or chronic condition it is a good idea to get in contact with an Accredited Exercise Physiologist so that they can point you in the right direction and create a program best suited to your current needs.
By Aleisha Michael
Accredited Exercise Physiologist