Strength training is done to increase muscle size and strength, improve endurance, and decrease fatigue, ultimately increasing performance. It also improves body image and appearance and prevents muscle, ligament, and bone injury. Health benefits of strength training include improved posture, improved lung capacity, decreased injuries, improved circulation, improved muscle tone, and less risk of obesity.
Fitness and Health Benefits of Strength Training
|Fitness Benefits||Health Benefits|
|Increased muscle size||Improves posture|
|Increased muscle strength||Improves lung capacity|
|Increased endurance||Decreases injuries|
|Prevents muscle injury||Improves circulation|
|Prevents ligament injury||Improves muscle tone|
|Prevents bone injury||Prevents osteoporosis|
|Prevents fatigue||Lowers diabetes risk|
The recommended amount of strength training is 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week for most athletes and active women. For those involved in power and strength-dependent sports, strength training may occur five days a week as part of training, but muscles should be alternated day to day to allow recovery. The heavier the weights and quicker the movements, the greater the risk of injury.
Personal training is a very popular method of strength training. Trainers should be well qualified to design a program for you, listen to your needs and accommodate for the way your body performs, and guide you through a safe exercise program. It is recommended that you have a trainer who is certified, although there are different qualities and requirements for certification. The highest recommended certification types are through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), American Council on Exercise (ACE), and National Council of Strength and Fitness (NCSF). These require testing and updated continuing-education credits. Health-care professionals can also make excellent personal trainers, including certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, exercise physiologists, and physical therapy assistants.
Qualities of a Good Personal Trainer
- Certification or degree in exercise
- Listens to your needs
- Gives you full attention during workouts
- Does not encourage painful activities
- Works you at your level, not above it to impress you
- Any muscle soreness after a strenuous workout should last no more than two days
- Is motivating
- You do not develop new or worsening pains
- Workouts make you feel stronger and healthier
Techniques to Avoid Injury While Strength Training
- Gradually increase weight; no more than twice a month.
- Keep motions slow and resistance low.
- Stop the motion if you feel pain.
- Do not train the same muscles two days in a row.
- Keep your range of motion in a comfortable zone for your body.
- If your muscle soreness lasts longer than two days, reduce the amount of weight and repetitions.