Strength Training Benefits and Tips

“If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak. Begin weak is dangerous.” – Bret Contreras

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Photo via Nike Women

I have gotten so many compliments about my arm muscles over the years that I thought it would be good idea to write a blog about the benefits of strength training workouts . I’ve been told that I have strong arm muscles like Michelle Obama. Toned muscles have many benefits and I will tell you about those in a moment.

Nike master trainer Kate Hiipakka has mentioned to me in the past (mostly during Nike Training Club workouts) that she loves my arm definition. It was a great compliment.

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Photo above is of Kate and I taken June 15, 2014 after her NTC (Nike Training Club) workout class at Nike Bucktown in Chicago. Look at all my sweat…..whew.

I love to lift weights (mostly free weights or dumbbells). I’ve been lifting since I was a young athlete in primary school. The earliest age I think I begun lifting weights is around 14 years old. I have always enjoyed the feeling of being strong and tough.

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Photo of my friend Cindy and I taken on Saturday, June 14, 2014 at an NTC summer tour free workout in Chicago.

In the near future, starting this year, I would love to start using more barbells which is what many cross fitters use. Here is a short article that explains the difference and benefits of dumbbells vs. barbells. With barbells, I will get stronger and more muscular because I can lift heavier. I will be checking out a cross fit gym soon. Infact, I just signed up for a free cross fit workout at Ohio Fit Club.

Almost like how Yoga is supposed to be for women, there is a great misconception that weight lifting is only designed for men. Some women don’t lift weights because they are afraid of becoming bulky. Ladies, you won’t bulk up. If you aren’t an Olympic lifter and just want to gain strength for general fitness, then you won’t become crazy bulky. The key is to do controlled sets when lifting heavy. Here is a great blog post on why women should strength train.

Below is a photo of me getting ready to lift a barbell at CrossTownFitness in Chicago (last year). I started off with a light set (not heavy at all) because I wanted to focus on form.

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Strength training doesn’t have to involve lifting weights. Of course, to see faster results, it will be a good idea to add weights. But, people tend to forget that adding your own body weight can also help you build muscles. Exercises such as pull ups, push-ups, and sit-ups are great ways to gain strength in your body.

Here are some benefits of strength training:

1) Builds lean muscles

2) Increases your basal metabolic rate – the more muscle the better.
*** even when the body is at rest, a person with more muscles will burn more calories so by just sitting down, you burn calories

3) Look and feel strong

4) Burn more fat

Strength training tips

1 – when first beginning a strength training regiment, start off with using your body weight then gradually move up to adding weights

2 – if using weights (Dumbbells or barbells) then start with lighter weights before progressing to heavier weights

3 – do sets of exercises

**For example, grab a pair of dumbbells at the weight size you desire. I recently bought a pair of 15 pound dumbbells so I use those when I lift. I sometimes use my 5 pound dumbbells if I’ve already done a tougher workout earlier on in the day.
**Do 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions (reps)
**Once you start lifting more, you will begin to add more weights and/or add more reps

WEIGHT EXERCISE EXAMPLES

Tricep Kickbacks

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Overhead Press

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Sumo Squat with Toning Ball

Tip: toning balls are softer on the hands than traditional weights

In the photo below, I am using an 8 pound toning ball.

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Do you enjoy lifting weights? If not, do you think you’ll make it a habit? Comment below and let me know.

xoxo,
Aggie

Disclaimer – I am not a personal trainer. All opinions are my own. Please consult a medical professional or fitness professional before beginning any exercise program.

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