Practical tips, strategies and advice for starting a strength training routine regardless of fitness level – no fancy gym membership required.
When I began my weight loss journey over ten years ago, I learned right away that nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. Whether you like it or not, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. And while you can technically lose weight without exercising, doing so will not only take you longer to reach your goals but you will be missing out on a whole host of health benefits.
While cardio so often is the focus of exercise routines, it’s just as important to shed light on the other half of the fitness equation: strength training. To start, I want to clarify that by definition, strength training is a method of improving muscular strength by gradually increasing the ability to resist force through the use of free weights, machines, or the person’s own body weight.
While you probably have some idea of the health benefits of strength training, here are a few reasons why I lift weights regularly:
- Lose Weight Faster: Research shows that type II muscle fibers, the type you build when you lift weights, actually boost your metabolism helping you fight fat even when you’re sitting around doing nothing.
- Fight Depression: Studies show that weight lifting has the same effect as cardio when it comes to fighting the symptoms of depression.
- Better Fitting Clothes: Women between the ages of 30-50 typically lose about 10% of their body’s total muscle. Unfortunately, this is often replaced by fat. Regular strength training can help combat this while keeping our waists smaller.
- Boosts Happiness and Lowers Stress: Research shows that those who performed three strength training workouts a week for six months had lower rates of stress and anger and higher levels of happiness.
- Combat Osteoporosis: As women age, our bones naturally lose bone and muscle mass. Similar to how our muscles get bigger when we strength train, our bones do the same any time they feel resistance.
- Decrease Risk of Injury: Muscle building helps protects your joints while also improving balance and coordination. As we age, this becomes hugely important to help prevent injury and maintain our independence.
Now that we’ve covered the what and the why, let’s talk about HOW! Before you find yourself coming up with various excuses such as the expense of hiring a fancy personal trainer or the cost of purchasing expensive equipment, I’m going to tell you right now: none of that is necessary.
To get you started, here are four free (or low cost) ways to add strength training to your weekly fitness routine:
- Living Room Yoga: Grab your mat, push back the furniture in your living room and create your own little yoga studio without even leaving the house. In search of a great routine? Chances are your local cable network (such as On Demand) offers free Yoga workouts or you could stream them through Apple TV or Amazon. No TV? No problem! There are countless free routines you can find on Pinterest or even with a simple Google search.
- Body Weight Strength Training: Who needs fancy equipment or weights when we can use our own body weight for a highly effective strength training workout? From lunges to squats to inchworms to planks, the options are endless. Check out this great list of 50 Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere.
- Try a Workout DVD: The number of workout DVD’s available online or at your local library are endless. Whether you prefer to stream them from the internet on your laptop or use a good old fashioned DVD player on your TV is up to you.
- Check Out a Local Studio: Local fitness studios are popping up everywhere these days. From TRX studios to hot yoga to boutique boot camps, these studios are a great way to add variety into your current fitness routine which helps you avoid boredom and keeps your body from plateauing. While there is often a fee associated with these studios, many offer new year specials in January or offer multi-packs at a deep discount (i.e. unlimited sessions per month for one flat rate.)
What are your best tips for starting out a new strength training routine? Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!