Some of the biggest benefits of strength training include; Increased muscle mass, which naturally decreases with age; increased bone density, helping prevent fractures and breaks; increased mobility, moving your joints through their full range of motion; higher metabolic rate, your muscle mass=metabolism; reduced risk of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity.
Now, using the same weight every time is better than sitting on the couch, but it is hindering your ability to get the most out of your training. We talk about this a lot in class, something called progressive overload. Progressive overload is when you gradually increase the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions in your workout routine. This challenges your body and allows your musculoskeletal system to get stronger. By changing up your workouts and adding additional tension to your muscles, you can avoid plateauing, which is when your body adapts to the type of exercise you’re doing. With progressive overload, you may notice you feel fitter, stronger, and maybe even a little bit “sore”.
Progressive overload training should be done only after you’ve mastered the basic mechanics of an exercise. However, if you feel like you have hit a “plateau” or if you are finishing the workouts faster than most of your peers, it is probably time for a change. Progressive overload is something that you should do gradually and something that you should keep track of. If we are doing back squats in class and you ALWAYS use the same weight, try adding 5-10 pounds to your last 2 sets. While performing strength sets, you should be getting close to failure on your last few reps. They should feel HARD. Then, keep track of those weights so your next session, maybe you start with those weights or add a little more. A coach can help you gauge what weight to use and help keep an eye on your form.
A common misconception that we occasionally hear (mostly from females) is that lifting heavy weights is going to make me “bulky”. This is a MISCONCEPTION. Building a physique like the athletes you see on the cover of magazines or on bodybuilding stages takes a lot more than a workout class to build. Some of those athletes use performance-enhancing drugs and hormones and almost all of them are on extremely strict workout routines and diets. These bodies, also, take YEARS to build and A LOT of food (proper nutrition).
We, also, hear that people want to “tone” their muscles… Not to burst anyone's bubble but there is no such thing as toning a muscle. You are either anabolic (building muscle) or catabolic (burning muscle), there are no other options. Toning usually refers to building muscle and losing fat so that you can see those hard-earned, defined muscles. You need to lose the layer of fat that presides over the muscle.
Building muscle and strength takes years of dedication and consistency and is something that should be in your routine for the long run. It will keep you strong, healthy, safe, and living your best life for as long as possible. If you need help deciding what weight to use, how to track your weights, or what you should be doing in a workout, ask a coach!! We want to see all of you succeed and reach your goals. We just need to make sure that you are taking the proper steps to avoid plateaus and continue moving forward.