Ever think about getting stronger to improve your health?
Oregon resident Trey Mickleson did. When he joined the U.S. Army, he knew he had to pass a string of fitness tests in boot camp. And he was worried about it.
He wasn’t super athletic. He never really worked out. He didn’t have any real experience with strength training. And his first attempt at trying to pass the fitness tests he would face in boot camp were humbling.
Did You Know?…The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends strength training at least two days a week for most adults, along with regular aerobic exercise.1 Yet, only 23 percent of adults do both.2
Trey wanted to get stronger, and he decided to do something about it. A couple of months before reporting to boot camp, he hired a personal trainer and started working out.
He followed a plan that included push-ups, pull-ups, lifting weights, and other exercises to build strength and endurance.
And you know what happened?
- Within eight weeks he went from zero to cranking out five pull-ups at a time. He planked for three minutes straight.
- He hammered out 30-plus push-ups in under two minutes.
- And in a practice run, he passed every fitness test he would face in boot camp.
You’re probably not headed off to boot camp. And you probably don’t want to train like a bodybuilder.
But if you want to improve your health, feel better, and reduce your risk for injuries, strength training can make a difference. Here’s what you need to know…
What is Strength Training?
Strength training is any form of physical activity that requires your muscles to work against resistance. Some examples include:
Body weight exercises (e.g. squats, push-ups, pullups, curl-ups, planks)
Weight lifting or resistance band exercises
Carrying a load like groceries, a backpack, or briefcase
Chores that require lifting, pushing, or pulling
Even going from sitting to standing is a form of strength training
Discover the Health Benefits of Strength Training
Aerobic activities like walking, jogging and cycling strengthen your heart and lungs. So what does strengthening do? Strength training can help:3
Build strength and muscle
After age 30, adults lose about 3 to 5 percent of strength and muscle mass per year. That might not seem like a lot, but it adds up over time. The good news: Strength training and a healthy diet can help slow the loss of muscle mass and strength as you age.
Improve bone health
About 54 million adults in the U.S. have weak bones. It’s a major risk factor for falls and fractures. But you can do something about it. Strength training makes your bones stronger by increasing bone density.4
If you neglect to keep your bones strong and healthy, your risk for injuries goes up…a lot. Weak bones and muscles make you 2.3 times more likely to break a bone when you fall. Just two days of strength training a week can improve balance and flexibility to help prevent injuries.
Support brain function
Feel stressed, anxious, depressed? These and other brain-related problems can make it hard for you to work, make good choices, and get things done. Medicine and counseling can help. But research shows resistance training can also improve brain function and mental health.5
Strength training can also help control blood sugar, lower the risk for certain types of cancer, reduce the risk for a heart attack or stroke, and more.
4 Steps to Build Strong Bones and Muscles
Want to build strong bones and muscles, improve your mood, and live longer? Follow these four steps.
1. Choose exercises that work all the major muscle groups (chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs, core).
- At home: Push-ups, planks, squats, lunges, curl-ups.
- At the gym: Use the machines or free weights for exercises such as bench press, squat, deadlift, shoulder press, arm curls.
2. Perform 2-3 sets of 8 to 12 reps per exercise.
- Rest up to 1 minute between sets.
- For weights: Choose a weight you can handle for 8 to 12 reps.
- Duration: A good strength-training workout can be completed in 20-45 minutes.
3. Use good form for each exercise you do.
This helps train your brain and muscles, and it helps prevent injuries. If you’re not sure how to perform an exercise, ask a trainer or watch a workout video.
4. Make time for strength training at least two days a week.
You should also make time for 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week.
Strength training isn’t just for bodybuilders, athletes, or people in the military. It’s something everyone should do.
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