Strength training. For some people, this very topic is just plain scary. “But—but, I don’t want to get bulky, I want to get thin!” is a common call amongst people looking to shed a few pounds. We want to take the opportunity to shine some light on the subject and get into the weeds on what is strength training. Let’s do that now!
According to Merriam Webster, the very definition of strength training is “activities that make muscles stronger”; and, as we have said before, making your muscles stronger is almost always a good thing. Something that may surprise you is that strength training doesn’t always include 100+ pounds and a barbell—you can strength train with your bodyweight, use circuit training, and, of course, grab those heavy weights as well. The best way to strength train is to find the routine that makes you jump out of bed in the morning, or out of your desk chair at lunch, or off of your couch in the evening—you get the point—and head to the gym! Because it is so important to maintain those muscles as you age. And, if you exist on this earth, you are indeed aging.
Bodyweight training is excellent because we all have the tools to do it—our bodies and everyone has the space to get it done—anywhere. You can actually do a bodyweight workout in that little space between the foot of your bed and the wall. If accessibility is what you are looking for when completing your strength training routine, look no further! Find somewhere to do pushups, squats, burpees, lunges, crunches, and feel your strength soar! We even put together a bodyweight arm exercise for you to try.
Circuit training is a fantastic way to strength train. It allows you to work almost every single part of your body in one workout. Here’s how a circuit works: dream up five to ten strength exercises and do them one after the other for an allotted amount of time. Forty-five seconds to one minute might be perfect. Make sure that your workouts rotate between different sections of your body. In other words, if you work your legs in the first exercise of your circuit, you would then switch to arms for the second, allowing your legs to rest. This is a great way to strength train because you can train one part of your body while the rest of your body enjoys a much-needed break. After your complete one full circuit, take a break, and then try to finish two more times. You can enjoy circuit training exercises in our Express Circuit, with weights, with machines, or with your bodyweight.
Free weight training includes using any weighted object that isn’t attached to an apparatus. Within that list are dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, weighted medicine balls, and the like. This is a fun and functional way to build strength. Since the weight is not attached to a machine, you will have free range of motion. You can get creative with your workout and build muscle strength where you feel that you need it most. But, be mindful of form when using free weights. The freedom also lends itself to bad form. If you are new to lifting weights, we recommend starting in our circuit area, on the weight machines on the floor, in a Team Training session, or a Group Exercise class where a coach or instructor will be there to guide you. Once you are more comfortable, you can start to add free weights into your individual workouts.
Exercise machines are an excellent way for beginners to strength train because they help you to keep proper form. Most machines also have illustrations showing you exactly what muscle groups you are working. If you aren’t quite sure what the lat-pull-down targets, take a look at the little photo that shows the back and arms of an illustrated figure and highlights the working area, then, on your next round, try to find a machine that is in a similar area of the body, but works slightly different muscles.
Consistency is key to strength training. We recommend putting time aside for strength training two or three times a week. Start small and allow your muscles to build over time. All training is a process, and it is not something you should want to rush. Make a plan, find a workout you love and work at it every single week. Pretty soon you will be sending us advice on the best way to get your strength training in!
We have strength training equipment at all of our locations. Stop into a Chuze Fitness near you and get started on building up that muscle!