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Effective Strength Training: Does Your Fitness Need a Lift?

strength trainingWhen we hear the word “strength training,” often times an image of an Arnold Schwarzenegger type body is the first thing we picture. We realize that there are a lot of people that want to get healthy, but aren’t necessarily looking to “bulk up.”

But here’s the thing; strength training should be incorporated into every exercise regimen because there are a whole list of benefits, ones that don’t necessarily mean you’re going to have to look like you’re going to the local strongman competition.

Strength training has been shown to improve your overall health and well-being. It increases bone density, increases your metabolism, improves heart function and promotes HDL cholesterol (which is the good kind.)

What should you focus on for effective strength training?

Start by using, the principle of Progressive overload, in which the muscles are overloaded by attempting to perform an exercise at about 65-80% of the maximum amount you can lift for 3 sets of 10-12 reps. This helps increase muscle endurance as well as increases muscle mass.

During your 3 sets If you reach a point of momentary muscle failure towards the end of each set, the feeling where your muscles seem like they just might give out if you do anymore, then you’re doing it right.

I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but make sure you’re reaching the overload point, you have to actually feel as if your muscles have overloaded. That means getting to the point of muscle breakdown because muscles grow from the repair of tiny tears caused by strength training.

Doing a max lift (a single lift of the most weight you can possibly do) is not meant to be used consistently and can potentially cause injury if done to often, so instead plan a day or two every 8-12 weeks to test your different maxes on different exercises.

For some great examples of strength training workouts, and how to combine them with cardio and core exercises, go ahead and check out our Shape Up Challenge.

An example of a total body strength training circuit we use with our clients is:

1. Dumbbell Chest Press
2. Squats
3. Dead Lifts
4.Bent Over Rows

Do one exercise right after the other for 3 total sets of 10 reps on each exercise

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