Strength training is the use of resistance to muscular contraction to build the physical strength and endurance. There are many different methods of strength training, the most common being the weight/gravity training and the training with the help of resistive equipment.
When properly performed, strength training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being, including increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, improved joint function, reduced potential for injury, increased bone density, a temporary increase in metabolism, improved cardiac function.
Training commonly uses the technique of progressively increasing the force output of the muscle through incremental increases of weight, elastic tension or other resistance, and uses a variety of exercises and types of training equipment to target specific muscle groups. Strength training is primarily an anaerobic activity.
The basic principles of strength training involve a number of repetitions (reps), sets, tempo, exercises and force to cause desired changes in strength, endurance, size or shape by overloading of a group of muscles. Specific combination of reps, sets, exercises, resistance and force depend on the purpose of the individual performing the exercise: sets with fewer reps can be performed using more force, but have a reduced impact on endurance.
With proper technique, strength training is not dangerous for growing bodies. Strength training for these growing bodies is not the same thing as powerlifting, weightlifting, or bodybuilding. However, these children wanting to participate in a strength training program must have the emotional maturity to accept and follow directions, which is why it is generally accepted that children should stay out of the weight room and focus on exercises that they can do with their own body weight until they are mature enough to grasp how important it is to have proper technique and safety in the weight room. Once they have matured these adolescents should not be focused on high intensity weightlifting, rather strength training for them refers to “a systematic program of exercises designed to increase an individual’s ability to exert or resist force” (ACSM). It is recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) that, “Although there are no scientific reports that define the optimal combinations of sets and repetitions for children and adolescents, one to three sets of six to fifteen repetitions performed two to three times per week on nonconsecutive days have been found to be reasonable. Beginning with one set of several upper and lower body exercises that focus on the major muscle groups will allow room for progress to be made. The program can be made more challenging by gradually increasing the weight or the number of sets and repetitions. Strength training with maximal weights is not recommended because of the potential for possible injuries related to the long bones, growth plates, and back. It must be underscored that the overriding emphasis should be on proper technique and safety — not on how much weight can be lifted” (ACSM).
Some more samples
Some samples of strength training exercises in a gym are presented in the picture gallery below.
As we mature into adulthood it is still very important to continue strength training. The Mayo Clinic states that “Muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. "If you don't do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose, you'll increase the percentage of fat in your body," says Edward Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. "But strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass — at any age””(Mayo Clinic). Strength training is especially important in reducing your risk of osteoperosis by developing strong bones, controlling your weight, reducing your risk of energy, boosting your stamina, and managing chronic conditions. Strength training is even more essential as we grow elder.
Strength training with the elders can also help to maintain the integrity of the bones, improve balance, improve coordination, improve mobility, and can even help to reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic diseases, including arthritis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, “Scientific research has shown that exercise can slow the physiological aging clock. While aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging, or swimming, has many excellent health benefits—it maintains the heart and lungs and increases cardiovascular fitness and endurance—it does not make your muscles strong. Strength training does. Studies have shown that lifting weights two or three times a week increases strength by building muscle mass and bone density” (CDC). It is very essential for older adults and the elderly to strength train. The CDC states that, “There are numerous benefits to strength training regularly, particularly as you grow older. It can be very powerful in reducing the signs and symptoms of numerous diseases and chronic conditions, among them: arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain, and depression” (CDC). As people age, poor balance and flexibility are a major contributor to broken bones. This can result in disability and complications. Strength training is especially helpful in restoring balance which can lead to the reduction of falls. The CDC mentions that, “Strengthening exercises, when done properly and through the full range of motion, increase a person's flexibility and balance, which decrease the likelihood and severity of falls.
One study in New Zealand in women 80 years of age and older showed a 40% reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training” (CDC). Also, another health concern for elderly women is that post-menopausal women can lose 1-2% of their bone mass annually. The Journal of American Medical Association in 1994 showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures among women aged 50-70. (CDC). Strength training is also important to maintain a healthy state of mind, to improve sleep quality, and for better cardiac health.
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- De Mello Meirelles, C.; Gomes, P.S.C. (2004). "Acute effects of resistance exercise on energy expenditure: revisiting the impact of the training variables" (pdf). Rev Bras Med Esporte 10: 131–8. http://www.scielo.br/pdf/rbme/v10n2/en_a06v10n2.pdf. Retrieved 2008-02-06.