Strength training is a vital part of a balanced exercise routine that includes aerobic activity and flexibility exercises.
Regular cardio exercise, such as a stationary bike, makes your muscles use oxygen more efficiently and strengthens your heart and lungs. When you strength train with weights, you’re using your muscles to work against the extra pounds (this concept is called resistance). This strengthens and increases the amount of muscle mass in your body by making your muscles work harder than they’re used to.
Most people who work out with weights typically use two different kinds: free weights (including barbells, dumbbells, and hand weights) and weight machines. Free weights usually work a group of muscles at the same time; weight machines typically are designed to help you isolate and work on a specific muscle.
Most gyms or weight rooms set up their machines in a circuit, or group, of exercises that you perform to strengthen different groups of muscles. People can also use resistance bands and even their own body weight (as in pushups, sit-ups, or body weight squats) for strength training. Many people tend to lump all types of weightlifting together, but there’s a big difference between strength training, powerlifting, and competitive bodybuilding!
Strength training uses resistance methods like free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or a person’s own weight to build muscles and strength. Olympic lifting, or powerlifting, which people often think of when they think of weightlifting, concentrates on how much weight a person can lift at one time. Competitive bodybuilding involves evaluating muscle definition and symmetry, as well as size.
Before you start strength training, you should be checked out by your chiropractor to make sure it’s safe for you to lift weights. Any time you start a new sport or activity, start out slowly so that your body gets used to the increase in activity. Even if you think you’re not exerting yourself very much, if you’ve never lifted weights before, your muscles may be sore when you wake up the next day. And, because of something called delayed onset muscle soreness, the pain may be at its worst 2 or 3 days after you first exercise. Before you begin any type of strength training routine, get some guidance and expert advice. Your coach or trainer can give you advice on how many times a week you should lift and what kinds of warm-up and cool-down activities you should do before and after lifting to avoid soreness or injury.
When lifting weights — either free weights or on a machine — make sure that there’s always someone nearby to supervise, or spot, you. This person, called a spotter, encourages you and also can act as your coach, telling you if you’re not doing a particular exercise correctly. Having a spotter nearby is particularly important when using free weights. Even someone in great shape sometimes just can’t make that last rep. It’s no big deal if you’re doing bicep curls; all you’ll have to do is drop the weight onto the floor. But if you’re in the middle of a bench press — a chest exercise where you’re lying on a bench and pushing a loaded barbell away from your chest — it’s easy to become trapped under a heavy weight. A spotter can keep you from dropping the barbell onto your chest. . If you’re just starting out in the weight room, most fitness experts recommend you begin by training three sessions a week, ranging from 20 minutes to 1 hour (including warm-up and cool-down periods), allowing at least a day off between sessions. It’s best to work only two or three muscle groups during each session. For example, you can work your leg muscles one day, your chest, shoulders, and triceps at the next session, and your back and biceps on the last.
Before you head for the weight bench, warm up your muscles by spending 5–10 minutes pedaling on a stationary bicycle or by taking a brisk walk around the gym. After finishing your workout, cool down by stretching all the major muscle groups to avoid injuries and keep your muscles flexible.
You can use many different exercises for each body part, but the basics — like bench presses, lat pull-downs, and squats — are great to start with. Learn proper technique first, without any added weight. Perform three sets of 8–10 repetitions (or reps) of each exercise, starting out with a light weight to warm up and increasing the weight slightly with the second and third sets. (Add more weight only after you can successfully perform 8–15 repetitions in good form.) Perform two to three different exercises for each body part to make sure you work each muscle in the group effectively.
Here are some basic rules to follow in strength training:
Start with body weight exercises for a few weeks (such as sit-ups, pushups, and pull-ups) before using weights.
Work out with weights about three times a week. Avoid weight training on back-to-back days.
Warm up for 5–10 minutes before each session.
Spend no more than 40 minutes in the weight room to avoid fatigue or boredom.
Work more reps; avoid maximum lifts. (A coach or teacher can give you specifics based upon your needs.)
Ensure you’re using proper technique through supervision. Improper technique may result in injuries, particularly in the shoulder and back.
Cool down for 5–10 minutes after each session, stretching the muscles you worked out.
Don’t rely on strength training as your only form of exercise. You still need to get your heart and lungs working harder by doing some kind of additional aerobic exercise for a minimum of 20–30 minutes per session. Chiropractors recommend an hour a day of moderate to vigorous activity — so on days when you’re not lifting weights, you may want to get more aerobic activity.
Strength training is a great way to improve strength, endurance, and muscle tone. But remember to start slowly, use proper form, avoid heavy weights, and increase workouts gradually to prevent injury. Just a few short sessions a week will really pay off — besides better muscle tone and definition, you may find that you have more energy and focus in both activities of daily living and your occupation.
Dr. Scott Fechter practices chiropractic therapeutic services in St Augustine Florida and treats patients from nearby Cities. The Pain Relief Centre has locations in Palatka and St Augustine to accomadate chiropractic patients. Chiropractic can be an effective treatment for back pain, neck pain, headaches, joint pain, osteoarthritis and many other conditions