Strength training is a great opportunity to improve your fitness as well as to prevent injury. Most of us find that we are particularly passionate about a certain type of exercise (running, walking, cycling, etc.) Through this activity we develop great strength and fitness of specific muscles and movements. However, we often neglect the surrounding areas of our body that can support the muscles that we routinely work. A proper strength training plan will enable you to balance muscle groups and prolong your ability to stay involved in the activities that you love.
- Functional Movements – Focus on functional movements in your strength routine. Consider natural movements and enhance these movements through use of weights. For example: Weighted squats are a great example of sitting down and standing up. Shoulder presses are a great example of putting something up on a shelf. The strength movement “squat – bicep curl – shoulder press” is a functional movement of picking something up off the floor and placing it overhead on a shelf. Working on functional movements will help you develop strength that you will utilize in your day to day life.
- Balance – Working on balance will strengthen the small stabilizing muscles that support major muscles throughout the body. A simple way to work on balance is to perform strength exercises while standing on one foot or standing on a balance board. If you are going to do bicep curls you can perform these curls while standing on one foot for the first set and the other foot for the second. This will engage your core as well as your stabilizing muscles as you work through your entire fitness routine.
- Form – The most important thing that you can focus on in strength training is developing proper form. Many people benefit from working with a qualified personal trainer to perfect their form. After several months of strength training is a great idea to work with a professional again. It is easy to develop bad habits in form and these bad habits can lead to injuries over time. Find a professional who can assist you and try to work out in front of a mirror to routinely check our form.
- Training Plan – Just like in running and cycling, a training plan will ensure that you continue to benefit from your strength routine. Writing out a plan will help you to make sure that you have addressed various muscle groups with an equal focus. In addition this plan should develop over time to continue to challenge you through your fitness.
- Progression – As you gain strength you will look for ways to continue to challenge yourself. You can increase reps, increase weight, and decrease rest between sets. It is important to only do one of these things at a time. Strength training is a progressive growth. Changing all three of these factors at once can lead to injury. Focus on just one a time for continued development without risk.
Find a trainer and add strength training to your routine today. You will amaze yourself at how it impacts your workouts as well as your daily living!