Why strength train?
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THE IMPORTANCE OF MUSCLE FOR MOVEMENT
It is only muscle that produces movement of the body. Other factors are involved for organized movement to occur, but only the skeletal muscles produce the contraction forces necessary to propel the body. Therefore, an increase in the size and strength of muscles makes movement more secure and efficient.
INCREASE BONE DENSITY
From about the age of 30, bone mass begins to decline - unless we do something about it. The bones in our bodies are living tissue which, through wear and tear, break down, but are then naturally replaced with strong new bone. If the breakdown exceeds replacement, then the result is weaker bones, otherwise known as osteoporosis.
So how does one combat weak bones?
The answer is a healthy diet and high intensity strength training. Bones are made to bear weight. When they are stressed they adapt, grow and become strong. When they are not used they become weak, frail and susceptible to fracture. Medical studies have shown that strength training, when performed using correct and safe techniques, benefits bone health more than any other form of exercise or activity.
There is no exercise, sport or activity (strength training included) that loses excess body fat faster than eating a healthy, reduced calorie, balanced diet. However, if you want to maximise your fat loss in the fastest possible time, then you need to strength train. Why? Muscle, which comprises of 30 to 50 percent of an average person’s body weight, needs more energy to keep it alive than your brain or internal organs. Adding a pound of muscle to your body, raises resting metabolic rate by 37.5 calories per day. Losing a pound of muscle through disuse reduces metabolic rate by 37.5 calories per day. A pound of fat also has a metabolic rate: approximately 2 calories per day. Therefore, muscle is 18.75 times as ‘expensive’ metabolically as the same amount of fat.
Studies at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, U.S.A., showed that the average man and woman loses half a pound of muscle per year between the ages of twenty and fifty, through disuse. At the same time, most adults are gaining one and a half pounds of fat per year. Over a thirty year period, we lose fifteen pounds of valuable fat-burning material, combined with a forty-five pound gain in fat. However, this process is reversible by building muscle with proper strength training.
IMPROVE CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Since the mid-1970’s, running has been considered to be the most efficient form of exercise to achieve cardiovascular endurance, as advocated by the leading running guru, Kenneth Cooper, M.D. However, Arthur Jones, who invented ‘super slow’ high intensity strength training and who trained many of the world’s champion body builders, had a different view. Jones said that while steady state running may work your heart and lungs to a degree, it will also destroy your knees and other joints. This is due to the pounding force that is placed on them. Running does almost nothing to strengthen most of your major muscles. In 1975, Arthur Jones conducted a scientific study, involving independent doctors at West Point Military Academy. This study demonstrated that high intensity strength training, more than any other method of training, strengthened the skeletal muscle of the test participants to their highest potential, and also involved the heart and lungs to a high degree without the pounding associated with steady state running.
What is flexibility? Flexibility is the ability to move a joint through its entire range of motion. One’s flexibility is determined by the quality of the joint surface, the strength of ligaments and tendons and the suppleness and strength of the muscles attached to the tendons. So, how does strength training actually enhance flexibility? Machine-based strength training places a load on a muscle in both its extended and contracted positions. It is, therefore, more effective at increasing mobility than traditional exercises. Even extremely large muscles will not impede flexibility - quite the opposite. Strong muscles that move a joint through its natural full range of motion, while maintaining the integrity of the ligaments, will produce optimal, stable flexibility.
Resting metabolism is the number of calories one’s body requires to function in a relaxed, resting state. The calories that one uses during any form of exercise, such as jogging, basketball, badminton, football, tennis etc and even strength training, is so low as to be insignificant. The only way to effectively burn calories is to increase one’s resting metabolic rate. Strength training does just that. How? When one trains hard, the muscles send out hormonal signals to the rest of the body to provide it with as much fuel and nutrients as possible, which it receives from stored body fat. At the same time, an enzyme is produced, called AMP kinase, which is the body’s main fuel burning switch. High intensity strength training will keep that switch turned on for about seven to ten days after the completion of the workout. So we can see that due to the nature of strength training our resting metabolic rate will increase thus turning our bodies into fat burning machines.
PREVENT BACK PAIN
Weak back muscles, primarily in the lumbar spine, are the cause of 80% of back problems. A healthy lower back is vital for practically every activity of normal daily living. But, as we pass the age of thirty, our lower back becomes our weakest link. Why? As we get older, time robs us of muscle mass, bone mass and strength in the lower back, just like anywhere else in the body. We might not be able to stop the clock, but we can actively regain strength and stability in the muscles that support the lower back by using them properly. The only way to do this is to isolate these muscles in such a way that momentum, gravity and other parts of the body do not assist the effort in the exercise. While this ‘isolation’ is easy to achieve with shoulder muscles, biceps or quads; it is much more difficult in the case of the lumbar muscles. One is unlikely to get a proper lumbar workout unless one uses a lumbar extension machine. At Ultimate Strength we use a MedX lumbar extension machine to work the lower back. This machine is designed with a series of restraints that prevent tilting of the pelvis, rotation around the hip joints or contribution from the big, strong muscles of the buttocks and thighs. The isolation is complete. There is no better or safer method for preventing or resolving lower back pain.
IMPROVE ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE IN ANY SPORT
Three things determine your athletic ability:
You can improve your skill by practice and you can vastly improve your strength with strength training, but you cannot do anything about your genetics. Professional athletes are not made, they are born. However, everybody can greatly improve whatever sport or activity they pursue by strength training. Activities that require explosive power, such as a tennis serve, hitting a tee shot in golf, or blasting a free kick in football, call upon the services of the big, fast-twitch muscle fibres. The only way to recruit these muscle fibres is to work the targeted muscle to a point of fatigue. The most effective way to fatigue muscles is to work out under the supervision of a qualified strength trainer.