How Strength Training Helped My Younger Brother Get Healthy
My younger brother means the world to me. But when he started college, he had let his health take a back seat. He grew to be obese and had to rely on medication for his blood pressure. As a physician, I frequently reminded him about the importance of exercise, which he already knew, since he had been relatively active all his life. He had been playing soccer since he was eight years old.
After COVID-19 hit, he realized he was at an increased risk of illness due to his poor health. In the past year, he decided to make a change and embark on the journey of strength training. At first, he was intimidated by the gym and the athletic people he saw. Slowly but surely, he pushed himself every day to achieve his goals. Now, he never misses a day at the gym. Through proper diet and exercise, he has drastically improved his health, from losing 50 pounds to coming off his medication. He even found a new community of people that share his goals and encourage him.
What Exactly is Strength Training?
Strength training is a form of exercise that involves using resistance to build muscle and increase strength. Contrary to what many may think, strength training does not only mean lifting barbells and massive weights. There are many types of strength training, from using free weights such as dumbbells to using the isometric machines found at most gyms. You can also use resistance bands and even your own bodyweight to perform exercises such as push-ups/squats.
Strength training offers several benefits for individuals of all ages and fitness levels. It increases muscle strength and endurance. It also enhances metabolism and helps with weight management. For older adults, it improves bone density and may reduce the risk of injuries/falls. Routine strength training can boost overall functional fitness and make daily activities easier.
How Do I Start Strength Training?
To get started, first talk to your healthcare provider to see if there are any medical conditions or special considerations before starting. Then, start with a balanced and appropriate program that includes exercises for major body groups (legs, back, chest, shoulders, arms). See if you can work with a fitness trainer or physical therapist to help create a program for your specific needs and goals.
Remember, strength training does not mean training to complete soreness and exhaustion every day. Aim for at least 2-3 strength training sessions per week. Focus on repetition and achieving proper form/technique to prevent injuries. Gradually increase the weight or resistance as your strength improves (and you’ll know because your workouts will begin to feel easier). In addition, make sure to include rest days to allow muscles to recover. Do not over-train; slow and steady wins the race!
There are other factors to consider when starting strength training. It is important to warm up before each session to prepare the muscles for the workout. Remember to eat a balanced diet with adequate protein to support muscle growth and repair. Stay hydrated before, during and after strength training. In addition, regular stretching and foam rolling reduce muscle soreness. Also remember to get adequate sleep for muscle recovery.
How Do I Maintain My Strength Training Journey?
So, let’s say you’ve now been lifting for two months and are thinking that you don’t need to change anything about your strength training routine, right? No! Strength training is a journey. Reevaluate your routine periodically and adjust it as your goals evolve. A workout journal can help you track progress, make changes and look back on how far you’ve come.
Remember that strength training is different for everyone. What works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to start at your own level and progress gradually. I hope this article has inspired you to consider strength training in the way my brother has inspired me to begin my own strength training journey.
To learn more about strength training, visit this Mayo Clinic page for a quick-start guide, or visit this page for more simple ways to get started. If you have any specific health questions or need additional information on strength training, please talk to your healthcare provider and/or a qualified strength trainer.
If you don’t have a doctor, or you’re looking for a new one, NGPG has many qualified providers. You can search for one and book an appointment online.