Strength training is a type of physical exercise that focuses on using resistance to build strength and endurance. As an exercise specialist, we know there’s a lot of confusion about the best way to integrate strength training a part of your overall fitness program. Here are a couple common questions and answers about strength training to help you get the most out of your program.
How Often Should I Lift Weights?
Muscles need time to recover and repair after completing a strength training routine. Without proper recovery, the muscle can’t reap the full benefit of improved strength and toning. Because of this, it’s imperative to avoid working the same muscle group two days in a row. The number of sessions completed during the week is going to depend on your goals and experience. For basic strength gains, lifting weights two or three times per week will suffice. Consult an exercise specialist for lifting recommendations that help you reach your goal.
Will Lifting Weights Make Me “Bulk-Up?”
How your muscles develop from strength training depends on two factors—genetics and training intensity. But the latter is the only factor you can control. If you lift lighter weights and keep the repetitions high—12 to 20 reps—your muscles will not “bulk.” Please consult one of our exercise specialists to determine the proper weight, sets and reps for your specific goals.
What’s the Difference Between Using Free Weights and Weight Machines?
Both types of weights can be beneficial. Machines, with proper set-up, provide the support and guidance you need throughout the entire exercise. A drawback to using machines is that most only allow movement in one direction. On the other hand, free weights (dumbbells and bars) provide more variety, challenge small supporting muscle groups, and allow you to replicate functional, everyday movements. With that said, free weights have less support and an increased risk of injury for an inexperienced lifter. For the novice lifter, we recommend having an expert demonstrate proper form and set-up on the machines and then graduate to free weights when you feel you are comfortable and ready.
Benefits of Strength Training
- Develop strong bones: By stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
- Control your weight: As you gain muscle, your body begins to burn calories more efficiently. The more developed the muscle, the easier it is to control your weight.
- Boost your stamina: As you get stronger, you won’t get fatigued as easily. Building muscle also contributes to better balance, which can help you maintain independence as you age.