Let’s talk resistance! Not the rebellious kind, but the exercise kind. Resistance training is sometimes called strength training because you are adding resistance to build strength. So, in this message, I will sometimes say resistance training and at other times say strength training. Do not be alarmed! They are one and the same! The information I am presenting today is for anyone over the age of 13, but if you are over the age of 40, you need to pay closer attention.
There are many benefits to resistance training. As we get older, our bodies naturally lose bone density and muscle mass. In addition, our metabolism slows down as we get older. This causes us to have more difficulty with starting a weight loss journey after the age of 40. However, I am here to encourage you today by letting you know that resistance training can help lessen the impacts of aging. It can increase metabolism and improve bone density and muscle mass. Resistance training can also improve your posture, sleep, and balance.
Jenn Sinrich has written many articles on health and fitness for publications like SELF and Women’s Health magazines. She is also featured on the Health.com website. I am mentioning Jenn because she wrote an article in the Aaptiv online magazine called “How Strength Training Impacts Your Posture.” In the article, Jenn makes some very valid points about resistance training, so I wanted to include them in my message today. Jenn is actually quoting a “certified strength and conditioning specialist” named Tyler Spraul so I will be sure to distinguish his comments from hers.
First, Jenn mentions the comments from Tyler about building strong, healthy bones to ward off osteoporosis and improve your posture. Jenn goes on to explain how posture “aligns your entire body – your muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons.” Just to explain this a little more, your ligaments connect your bones to each other, while your tendons connect your bones to your muscles. I like how Jenn points out the advantages of resistance training that go beyond the physical benefits. She mentions improvements to “self-esteem, confidence, and even anxiety.” I like this because it aligns with our holistic approach to fitness here at GFI. As you improve your posture, you can literally stand taller, not just physically, but also mentally. At GFI, we are on a mission to change the way you think about yourself and your situation. That was pulled right out of our Mission Statement! When you build your self-esteem and confidence, you are changing the way you think about yourself! When you build your confidence and reduce your anxiety you are changing the way you think about your situation! This is accomplished at GFI with physical, mental, and spiritual fitness. The sights and sounds of inspiration, motivation, and encouragement can boost your self-esteem and confidence while reducing your anxiety. When we add this to your training regimen, you can Reach the Unreachable in your fitness goals!
Ok, back to the article. I got a little excited there. In the article, Jenn quotes Tyler as he takes a closer look at how “strength training can undo your ‘default’ positions.” Here, he is talking about how you position your body while sitting or standing. Sometimes we slump over or shrug our shoulders when we sit. Sometimes we lean a certain way or hunch our back when we stand. These postures can cause undue stress on our spine. As we improve our posture with resistance training, we can sit and stand tall, even if not doing so has become a habit. Tyler recommends exercises like “chin-ups and rows” if you are sitting in a hunched over position for long periods of time, looking at a computer. Chin-ups are “pull” exercises that strengthen your upper body. In case you did not know, the main difference between a chin-up and a pull-up is the position of your hands. When doing a chin-up, your palms are facing you with a supinated (underhand) grip. Whereas, when doing a pull-up, your palms are facing away from you with an pronated (overhand) grip. Rows can be accomplished on a rowing machine or by using dumbbells in a simple bent-over row, doing a one-arm row on a bench, or leaning with one leg forward as you perform two-armed rows that simulate lifting a water bucket (water-bucket rows). I got that last one from the Real Appeal program.
In the article, Jenn talks about how resistance training can improve low back pain by improving your posture. I mentioned ligaments and tendons before. These are the “other supporting tissues” that Tyler is referring to in the article. He explains how these tissues can be strengthened along with the bones and muscles of the low back by incorporating resistance training in your exercise regimen.
Jenn also shares some quotes from “Caleb Backe, CPT, a health and wellness expert for Maple Hollistics.” In the article, Caleb talks about what happens when your back and shoulder muscles are too weak to properly hold themselves in the proper position. When this happens, those muscles tend to “cave inwards.” Caleb mentions that adding resistance training to strengthen your shoulders and trapezius (traps muscle) will improve the support of your neck and upper body. The Cleveland Clinic defines it best by saying the trapezius muscle “starts at the base of your neck, goes across your shoulders, and extends to the middle of your back.” The chin-ups I mentioned earlier is one exercise movement that can strengthen your traps. There are several other exercise movements to work the traps, like the Farmer’s Carry and the Dumbbell Military Press. I will demonstrate these at a later time, so stay tuned! The key thing to know with these exercises is keeping your core muscles engaged and tight during the workout while having a firm grip on the dumbbells.
The last area of focus in the article is resistance training for your core muscles (abs), which can increase “abdominal control and stabilization.” Strengthening your core improves support for your spine, which is necessary for standing upright. In the article, Caleb mentions weak abdominal muscles that can lead to “anterior pelvic tilt.” People who suffer from this problem experience pressure on their neck and lower back because their hips are tilted forward. Caleb agrees that strengthening the core muscles can help “realign the tilt” to relieve that pressure while improving the posture of those individuals.
Jenn rounds out her article with some workout moves to strengthen the core muscles. She specifically mentions planks and deadlifts. Planks focus on stability, which improves the neutral alignment of the spine. In the article, Caleb mentions how we need that neutral alignment to support our back and improve our posture. Deadlifts are known to target nearly every major muscle group, including the hamstrings, upper back, and core muscles. As a result, they can be used to strengthen the spine, especially because of the core stabilization benefits. When the spine is in alignment and strong, you can maintain good posture. In the article, Caleb is credited for stating that a strong spine is “a key component for correct posture” as you “train your body to stay in ‘good’ position.” Jenn closes her article by stating that as you incorporate strength training to improve your posture, you can “build your muscular endurance in the process.”
Now let’s talk recovery! Not addiction recovery, but exercise recovery. If you are actively working out with resistance training, you need time to recover. If you are on a journey to lose weight, your fitness regimen should include recovery time. Recovery includes rest, sleep, and hydration.
You build strength by building muscles. However, as you work to build your muscles, the added weight will tear them down, which is why you need to increase your protein intake to help with recovery. Have you ever had a surgery where the doctor is cutting through your flesh and muscles to repair something? Afterwards, you must spend time in recovery. Lifting weights or adding resistance in a workout routine is similar. No, you are not cutting into your muscles, but you are impacting them in such a way that recovery time is needed.
Continuing with the surgery analogy, just like how your recovery after surgery requires proper rest to heal, you need to have proper rest for your muscles to recover from a strenuous resistance training session. You should not work the same muscles with resistance training every day. Depending on the intensity of the training, your muscles will need 1-2 days of rest in between workouts. If you fatigue your muscles during the workout, give them a break for a couple of days and be sure to eat an adequate amount of protein to help maximize the recovery period by increasing muscle protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is just the scientific term for repairing, growing, or maintaining your muscles. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends an intake of 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 180 pounds, you need to consume 90-144 grams of protein per day when strength training on a regular basis. You will see effective results on your weight loss journey if you incorporate resistance training into your exercise regimen 3 times per week. Start with light weights, and work your way up to heavier weights, increasing a little each week or two as you can handle it.
Sleep is another important activity for recovery. Youngsters require 9-10 hours of sleep per night because of their growing bodies. Young adults have been known to be functional with 7-8 hours of sleep. As you get older, you need 8-9 hours of sleep. When your body does not get proper sleep and rest, it can cause your immune system to become compromised. You will become more susceptible to germs, which can lead to illness from viruses. As a result, you will be forced to get more rest. Trust me! It happens to me like clockwork! It is better for you in the long run if you consistently get proper sleep and rest. You will be alright if you lose sleep once or twice per week, but do not make it an everyday thing because your body will retaliate and force you into giving it proper rest.
Finally, hydration is very important to recovery. You should consume at least a cup of water within 2 hours of working out, and 2 cups of water after working out. You should also sip on water as you are working out to replace the fluids that are lost by sweating. If you are not sweating during your workout, you may not be working hard enough. On the other hand, if you are sweating profusely, you may need to take it down a notch. Of course, some people don’t sweat much, so know your own body! Always error on the side of caution to avoid injury. At the same time, don’t be afraid to test your limits. Your exercise program should be progressive, meaning you should be making progress to new, more challenging levels over time. Don’t rush the process, but don’t be stagnant either. Talk to a fitness professional, like me, if you need help in this area.
Another way you can help with recovery is by having a day of flexibility training. Stretching is still a workout, but it is also a great way to develop long lean muscles. You should always stretch after a good workout, but if your body is still feeling sore or stiff the next day, additional stretching can help. Be sure to always warm up your muscles before entering the conditioning phase of your workout. The conditioning phase can include increased cardio, resistance training, or stretching.
One last thing I want to mention in terms of recovery is meditation. This can be accomplished with some Yoga poses. This will help relax and recover your mind after a hard day of work or play, and some of the stretching poses can help recover your muscles after a strenuous workout. You can even take a lunch break and practice meditation. It does your body and mind good!
I hope you learned something from today’s message. Please feel free to contact me any time with questions! I can be reached on my website at glorifiedfitness.com/contact, via any of our social media links on Link Tree at linktr.ee/GFI201117
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