Why do we need a top trends list to remind us how important strength training is? That seems to be the case as not enough of us are doing it, but we’ll take whatever it is that gets people in the weight room!
In their annual report of fitness trend predictions, the ACSM names both body weight training and strength training as popular workouts for 2015. So if you’re part of the 17.5% of women who currently strength train — great job, keep it up!
If you’re part of the overwhelming majority of women who don’t — then it’s time to get lifting. This is not about bulking. This is not about looking ripped. It’s certainly not about stacking your feminine frame with big, bulging man muscles. It’s about overall wellness and health!
“[Strength training is] not about fitness or being buff, it’s not about that anymore. In fact, that’s the last reason to do it,” said Holly Perkins recently at TapGenes.com. The renowned strength and conditioning expert, who is set to launch her Women’s Strength Nation in early 2015, echoed lists found across leading health organizations that suggest vast benefits that are derived from strength training. Breast cancer survivors are aided in their recovery when a strength regimen is introduced. Confidence, self-esteem, and empowerment come from lifting weights. Women experience more stamina, greater flexibility, and more functional movement. And those who strength train regularly (which the CDC says is two days per week) experience an optimized shift in hormones; management or prevention of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke; and a host of other health benefits.
The question isn’t so much “Do you lift?” so much as it is “Why don’t you lift?”.
How exactly do you get started? There in lies one of the greatest barriers of entry in strength training, especially for women. The weight room, with its free weights, machines, and men, is an impossibly intimidating place for women. No different than the first time you went to yoga, went for a run, or tried a Zumba class, all it takes is that one breath of confidence to move forward.
If you truly are new, or haven’t hit the weights in some time, the best thing for you to do is work with a trainer. They’ll teach you how to use the machines and the weights, and in a circuit that’s meaningful, so that you can return regularly with confidence. This will ensure you prevent injury, but also give you the education you need to manage the workouts on your own.
However, the great part about strength training is that it doesn’t all have to come from a gym’s weight room. The number one trend from the ACSM this year is body weight training, and it provides the same strength benefits without the props.
“Body weight training uses minimal equipment making it more affordable. [It’s] not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, [and] this trend allows people to get ‘back to the basics’ with fitness,” reported the ACSM.
It’s more affordable, and more accessible, too! Because body weight training doesn’t specifically require machines or weights the way traditional strength training does, you can effectively do it anywhere. The monkey bars at the park – done. Squats, lunges, pull-ups, push-ups, wall sits — all considered body weight training exercises that require nothing but your body and the space to do it.
“Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete exercise program for all physical activity levels and genders,” declared the ACSM. A well-rounded fitness regimen that you’re going to reap the most benefit from includes cardio (or aerobic) exercise as much as it does strength. Together, your body gets all of the functional movement and beneficial stress it needs.
The CDC recommends that American adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, plus two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities.
In crowd or not, trendy or not, strength training is getting some overdue attention this year. Be sure to listen!