Adding Strength to Your Fitness Routine
I have always gotten the question “why do I need to add strength or resistance training to my workouts? I’m doing cardio, isn’t that enough?" Short answer, no. As a person who LOVES strength training and lifting heavy, or as many who know me as the guy who always says “let’s do back today,” we all can benefit when we incorporate SOME type of strength training. We don’t need to always have a "back day” or a “leg day,” but there are many ways to add strength training to our fitness routines.
I do have to admit the term “Strength Training” can be a little intimidating, so for this blog let’s call it “resistance training!”
Resistance training is not always about deadlifting 600 pounds or “how much do you bench." You can incorporate many various movements using your bodyweight, resistance bands, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells (previous blogger Dan Kohler’s favorite – see Dan’s previous writing Dan's Blog on various movements), and more to make a more well rounded and beneficial workout.
With my clients we typically do full body workouts where we focus on legs and back. Why legs & back you ask? These are the two largest muscle groups in the body, also they are very important to maintain a good posture. Look at people who have tight pecs and may slouch & round forward, or those with tight low backs and hip flexors where an underlying condition of upper/lower cross syndrome could be presenting itself. Now this could be corrected with strengthening the upper back, abdominals, and glutes while stretching our pecs, low back, and hip flexors.
With the majority of my clients, we stick to full body movements. For those days we would add 1-2 movements for back and legs but for other clients who might be training for bodybuilding or powerlifting we add MUCH more than 1-2 movements. Below is an example of a full body workout that most people could add to their routine, but make sure to seek our advice from a professional if any of these movements are new to you or you have any limitations.
Full Body Example:
- Set 1: Kettlebell Swings 3 sets of 8 reps each (60 second rest in between)
- Super Set 2: Goblet Squats 1 set of 6 reps, then Pull-Ups 1 set of 6 reps followed by a 90 second rest (repeat 3 times)
- Super Set 3: Low Back Extensions 1 set of 10 reps; Chest Press Machine 1 set of 10 reps; Deadbug 1 set of 10 reps followed by a 60 second rest (repeat 3 times)
Benefits of Resistance Training
Below are some benefits you will see by adding resistance training to your routine.
- Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Manage your weight. Resistance training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.
- Enhance your quality of life. Resistance training may enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Building muscle also can contribute to better balance and may reduce your risk of falls. This can help you maintain independence as you age.
- Manage chronic conditions. Resistance training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes.
- Sharpen your thinking skills. Some research suggests that regular resistance training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults
As we can see adding resistance to our workouts is more than “how much can you bench bro?” It helps with weight management, cognitive abilities, strong bones, and overall quality of life. So get our there and how my friend, past YMCA Wellness Director Jacob Martinez, would say, LIFT HEAVY THINGS!
Good luck with your fitness journey and don’t forget our branches have wellness coaches and trainers who can help with any program modification.
If you are interested in how in incorporate strength training into your routine, please reach out to your Health & Wellness Director at your respective branch.
John Whitmyre, Health & Wellness Director at the Downtown YMCA and the Charles E. Lakin YMCA