Strength training is one of the oldest methods of fitness. However, it is just as popular today as it was when cavemen were trying to add to their pipes by curling rocks.
The reason strength training has survived the test of time is because everyone can benefit from building stronger bones and muscles, increasing energy levels, and helps in controlling weight. Strength training can help in all of these areas plus it is just plain fun.
Strength training can include body weight, free weights, machines, and resistance tubing.
We discussed body weight exercises in a previous article here at TTS. Click here to read an exclusive TTS body weight article.
Free weights can include dumbbells, barbells, and unconventional free weights.
Dumbbells are the most popular type of free weight and perhaps the most beneficial. The advantages of dumbbells are that they force you to use stabilizer muscles and it is easy to isolate a particular muscle.
Dumbbells are commonly used in a gym, but they are reasonably inexpensive to own. Generally speaking dumbbells cost around $1.00 USD/pound. They can be stored under a bed or in a closet if space is an issue. Once the dumbbells are purchased a person can basically use them for their entire lives as long as they are taken care of by not dropping them or banging them against other hard objects.
Barbells are any type of weight that uses a bar. Normally the weight is a round disc with a hole in the center that slides onto a bar. Bench press, squats, and dead lifts are common exercises that use barbells.
Barbells have advantages and disadvantages over dumbbells. Barbells allow a person to use more weight and are favored for building strength and power faster than dumbbells. However barbells do not focus on stabilizer muscles as much as dumbbells, make it more difficult or impossible to isolate an individual muscle, and often require a training partner to ensure safety when using heavier weights.
Barbells are commonly used at a gym because they require more space than dumbbells. Normally barbells are used in conjunction with a bench or squat rack, which means significant space must be used to house all of the equipment.
Unconventional Free Weights
Unconventional free weights can include kettle bells, bags of sand, weighted balls or bags, or just about anything with some weight.
The advantages of unconventional free weights are they can be inexpensive, force muscles to work in different ways, and can easily be stored in the home.
There are all types of machines designed for individual muscles or entire muscle groups. Machines are generally used at a gym and are cost and space prohibitive for most individuals.
Machines can be a nice way to change up a workout and shock your muscles. However, a workout should not be totally based around machines because they do help the individual with a workout by eliminating the use of stabilizer muscles.
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Resistance tubing is normally a length of rubber tubing with a handle on each end. The rubber tubing can come in different thicknesses to provide more or less resistance.
The advantages of exercising with resistance tubing are that they force you to use stabilizer muscles, are relatively cheap, take up almost no space, and allow the user to work all of the major muscles groups.
Resistance tubing exercises are perfect for individuals that travel often. Several strengths of tubing can easily be placed in a suitcase without taking up much space.
Resistance tubing is also perfect for the individual that does not want to go to the gym for whatever reason, wants a great workout, and is limited on space or funds.
How Often Should You Strength Train?
An ideal workout would hit every major muscle group two to three times a week.
What Is The Best Type of Strength Training For Me?
Doing any type of exercise is beneficial. Get your butt off the couch and do something.
A balanced workout includes cardio and some type of strength training.
Cardio can include walking, running or any other type of exercise that gets the blood pumping. It is good to keep your body guessing so mix up the types of cardio that you are doing.
Some type of strength training can include; free weights, Pilates or Yoga. Like cardio it is good to mix up the types of strength training you are doing to continually challenge your body.
Obviously consult a doctor before engaging in any type of exercise. Start slow with any type of exercise and build up your stamina and strength in a slow controlled manner. You will need to constantly challenge your body to see improvements, but you can cause your body harm by pushing yourself too hard.