Workout of the Week

by Nicole Wilkes

Photography courtesy of Kaleb Fulgham on Creative Commons on Flickr

Health Benefits

In addition to building muscle, strength training also does wonders for your bones. Studies have found that regular anaerobic (stationary) weight training reverses natural loss of bone strength and density (sarcopenia and osteoporosis).

Building muscle also improves your metabolism, so enough strength work will have your body burning energy more efficiently. That’s why, when paired with fat-torching cardio, strength training is great for weight loss.

Anaerobic strength training is also proven to be good for the heart and can ease symptoms of depression.

Best For

Strength training is low impact, which makes it an ideal workout for anyone with joint problems or prone to stress-induced bone injuries (such as stress fractures).

A single strength workout usually involves several different exercises, so it’s the perfect option to anyone who gets bores easily while working out. Strengthening the core and back also improves your posture and fights back pain from slouching, which makes it a great choice for those of us who spend most of our days sitting at a desk.

When choosing equipment/weights

Check your ego at the gym door. It can be tempting to go for the heaviest weights you can handle, but that can lead to injury and cause your progress to plateau. Use weights that are challenging, but not so heavy you need to throw your entire body into the movement and utilize that momentum to complete the exercise.

Avoiding injury

If you venture beyond dumbbells and try the weight machines at the gym, be sure to have a spotter (though it’s always a good idea when you’re starting out or trying anything especially challenging. Having a knowledgeable, trustworthy spotter can prevent a serious injury and ensure you get the most out of your workout with the right form.

Be sure to stretch each muscle group after every workout, even if it doesn’t feel especially sore or tight. Taking the few minutes to stretch at the end of each workout can save you from having to deal with serious injuries down the road.