One of the most crucial components to having a greater quality of life is to be strong. It's undeniable!
Strength is expressed through various measures and we often see mental fortitude coincide with actual physical strength. It takes a lot of self-motivation and determination to not only push yourself through a hard workout - but to do it on consistent basis. This mental strength will pay massive dividends in every other aspect of your life.
Unfortunately, there are a few myths that overshadow the truth about strength training. Let me be clear, I am talking about exercising to be stronger, not to get bigger.
The first myth is that if you so much as touch a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell or any weight at all, that you will grow massive muscles and gain weight. Yet you would be astonished at the feats of strength presented by the likes of professional rock climbers and gymnasts; individuals who are typically smaller and lower in body weight. Many of these people regularly follow some form of strength training.
You must purposely eat and train a certain way to gain weight and muscle mass, like how you must eat and train a certain way to lose weight and drop body-fat. If your intent is to get stronger, you should train as such.
Aerobic training has amazing benefits, but it will not make you stronger. In order to get stronger, you will need to include some form of resistance training in your routine. If you maintain healthy eating habits, you won't “bulk up”.
There's another myth we need dismissed with regards to how you should feel after a strength training workout. Many people believe that if you are not drenched in sweat and feeling completely exhausted after exercising, that it wasn't effective or beneficial. It is true that you may not sweat as much or get your heartrate going like you would during a challenging aerobic workout. However, different training modalities are accompanied by different goals that yield varying results and benefits.
During aerobic exercises such as going for a run or attending a spinning class, your goal might be to achieve an elevated heart rate and to sustain that heart rate for a specific amount of time. With strength training, however, you are often aiming to use a specific amount of weight or resistance for a set number of repetitions.
Just remember, the amount of sweat you produce is a very poor metric to gauge how hard you worked out. As a personal trainer, I'm actively trying to avoid tremendous pain and fatigue for my clients, otherwise they won't exercise for the next three days. Great trainers want you to leave the gym feeling invigorated and wanting to come back for more.
So, how does being stronger have a positive effect on your quality of life?
Improved Daily Activities
Having greater muscular strength allows you to work harder and longer. Daily tasks such as washing the floors, carrying groceries into the house, playing with your children, or even shoveling the driveway are that much easier when you are stronger.
Improved Athletic Performance
Building a foundation of strength is vital for every athlete who is looking to improve their performance. When an individual is stronger, typically they can run faster, jump higher, etc.
Reduced Risk of Injury
Lose of strength can result in the loss of functionality which can lead to an increased risk of falls/slips. Maintaining or improving strength, decreases your risk of injury for all sorts of sports related injuries (for example: stronger glute muscles reduce the risk of ligament tears occurring in the at the knee joint)
Greater Body Awareness
Learning how to correctly perform basic exercises such as a squat, creates muscular awareness and will lead to safer movement patterns. An example of this would be knowing how to pick up a heavy box from the ground in a safe manner using proper technique and using the appropriate muscles.
Greater Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
Studies such as this one have shown that frequent resistance training will increase your BMR, which essentially means your body will burn more calories at rest. This an effective way to lower or maintain your body weight.
In the world of fitness, many basic principles are often overlooked or made to be more complex than need be. This makes strength training scary and overwhelming for some people. In reality, it can be a relatively safe form of exercise that produces a multitude of benefits.
There are many unpredictable factors that create a high degree of risk when you play sports. In a gym setting, you are in control of everything that takes places. From the exercises you choose to perform, to the resistance that is being applied, to the technique you perform for your chosen exercises - everything is in your hands. The truth is that strength training is tough and requires the mental fortitude that I alluded to earlier. But, what better way to challenge yourself and prove how strong you really are?