The benefit of strength training in both professional and non-professional athletes has been well documented over the past 20 years.  Improvements in muscle strength and power, increase in muscle size, and enhancement in sports performance are common benefits resulting from strength training programs.  In addition, strength training has also been suggested to reduce the risk and the severity of musculoskeletal injuries. Although studies reporting the direct effect of strength training on injury reduction are limited, the physiological adaptations seen following strength training on bone, the connective tissue and muscle does imply better protection against injury for individuals who participate in a strength training program.

Reducing the incidence of injury by engaging in a strength training program is as beneficial for the beginner as it is for the professional athlete.  Strength training can fortify muscles and make them less vulnerable to damage. Many injuries are caused by weak HYPERLINK “http://www.brianmac.co.uk/muscle.htm” muscles which simply are not ready to handle the specific demands of everyday life.  The force on them is greater than their natural strength causing them to tear. For example, people who start a running program for the first time often do well for a few weeks but then as they add distance to their workout, they begin to develop foot/ankle problems, hamstring soreness or lower back pain.  Their bodies simply are not strong enough to cope with the demands of the increased training load. A balanced strength training program can go a long way toward preventing injury. Strength training makes muscles stronger so that they can withstand greater forces and therefore helps to prevent injuries. In addition, along with strength training, nutrition is a key element in helping individuals to avoid the kind of muscular-skeletal injuries that are more commonly found.  

Preventive strength training delivers a general increase in strength and is an effective way of remaining strong and healthy for everyday activities, work or sports.

The more we train, the more strength we have at our disposal.  Muscle strength is what keeps us upright, brings us upstairs, and supports us.  Without muscle strength we would be rooted to the ground without the ability to move.  Most people can double their muscle strength within two years and about one-third can triple it.  Quality of life is dependent upon the body’s weight/strength ratio.

A common misconception about strength training concerns the potential of “bulking up”.  Many people tend to lump all types of strength training/weightlifting together, but there’s a big difference between strength training, power-lifting, and competitive bodybuilding.  Strength training uses resistance methods like free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, and/or a person’s own body weight to build muscles and strength. Olympic lifting, or power-lifting, which people often think of when they think of weightlifting, concentrates on how much weight a person can lift at one time.  Competitive bodybuilding involves evaluating muscle definition and symmetry, as well as size. A practical strength training program will not cause you to “bulk up” but will provide you with overall muscular definition.

Increasingly, medical experts are recommending strength training to improve physical and mental health and help prevent/diminish a wide array of medical conditions.  Some of the most extensively researched areas are osteoporosis prevention, arthritis, cardiovascular benefits, insulin metabolism, injury prevention, sleep benefits, mood enhancement, increased stamina, weight loss and overall slowing of the aging process.  Because weight training makes the body leaner, it also reduces the risk for certain cancers, diabetes, and other conditions linked to obesity. Further, muscle requires more calories to maintain than fat, so those with bigger muscles can eat more without gaining weight and lose fat more easily.  

A practical strength training program is a vital part of a balanced exercise routine and should be incorporated in to everyone’s lifestyle. 

 

Lisa Landman is a fitness and health guru. Learn more about her professional work or check out her Twitter!