The Importance of Strength Training

The Importance of Strength Training

We all know that with the Holiday season just around the corner, more food will be in front of us than we can fathom. According to ABC News, the average American will consume 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving dinner alone. When you add drinks, dessert and appetizers that number goes up to 4,500 calories. For those of us looking to lose weight, this can be detrimental to our weight loss plans. Many of us are going to head to the gym and strictly do cardiovascular workouts to burn off those extra calories because we all think that running = weight loss. Let’s do a quick calculation: I’m a slow runner and burn about 100 calories per 10 minutes of running. To burn my Thanksgiving meal, it would take me 7.5 hours on a treadmill. I don’t think I can even physically run that long and I’d rather be spending time with my friends and family than be at the gym. Not to mention, when you ONLY do cardiovascular workouts and you fall off your schedule or routine, more often than not - you will gain all that weight back. Trust me, I know: one week, I’m consistent with my cardio workouts and the next week I get too busy and skip it. Not only do I gain the weight that I lost back, but I also gain more on top of that. Yikes!

While running does lead to a decrease in body fat, it doesn’t help with burning calories when your body is at rest. That is where strength training comes into play. When you incorporate strength training into your workout routine, you are not only putting lean mass on, but you’re also getting stronger and increasing your metabolism. The best part is, the more muscles you have, the more calories you burn outside of the gym. So when you’re at home enjoying your favorite shows, your body is burning calories (how cool is that)! Plus, one pound of muscle burns three times more calories than one pound of fat!

 

How to Start

For beginners, designate 1-2 days per week strictly to strength training and once you feel more comfortable with doing more days, you can progress to 3-4 days a week.

If you’re worried that you’ll get too bulky (this was one of my main concerns because I’m very petite), don’t be! Unless, you are constantly adding an unhealthy amount of carbs and protein to your diet (besides Holiday meals), then you have nothing to worry about. We suggest lifting a comfortable weight and focusing on your form. When you start doing strength training, less is more. When you find your desired dumbbell weight, start with two or three sets of 10 repetitions (reps). Doing exercises in a specific pattern, like 2x10 (two sets of 10 reps), allows you to focus on your form and motion. Be sure to rest between sets, to prevent muscle fatigue and/or strain.

Beginner Strength Workout (UPPER BODY):

  • Alternating bicep curls (2x10)
  • Overhead press (2x10)

Obviously, you shouldn’t just focus on your arms/upper body. If you don’t want your upper body to be disproportionately bigger than the rest of your body, you need to make sure that your lower body gets some love too! Many hate the dreaded “leg day” because working a large muscle group is hard and can be tiring, but it’s super important, especially if you are a runner, swimmer or basically any athlete! Having a strong lower body decreases the risk of knee injuries (which are not fun), and it also increases your ability to perform longer (aka helps with endurance). To start off, do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions (reps) of squats and lunges and once you are comfortable, you can include a dumbbell to add a bit of resistance! Again, make sure to focus on your form and posture. Overextending the knee can result in serious injuries and nobody wants to deal with that; especially, during the Holiday season! Again, please be sure to rest between sets!


Beginner Strength Workout (LOWER BODY):

  • Alternating lunges with weights (2x10 each side)
  • Weighted squats (2x10)

Lastly, we aren’t saying to cut out cardiovascular workouts completely, because doing cardio is still super important for your heart’s overall health. Whether you are a runner, swimmer or even cyclist, just remember to also leave room during the week for strength training. Creating a well-balanced workout schedule with both cardiovascular and strength training will help keep the Holiday weight off and make you a healthier individual overall.


What do you guys think about strength training? Do you have a favorite strength training workout that you’d like to share with us? If so, let us know in the comments section down below.


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