Everyone Needs Muscular Fitness

When you think of weight training what immediately springs to mind?  Chances are you instantly thought of ‘bulking up’ and had images of bodybuilders and muscled men sweating it out in a gym with huge weights.  Maybe something like this……

Yeah but how many people do you know that actually look like this?

Many people (especially women) shy away from weight training because of the incorrect assumption that it requires special knowledge, complicated equipment and will make them bigger and heavier.

Weight training is very important as it develops muscular fitness which is the strength, endurance and flexibility needed to carry out every day activities such as carrying shopping, lifting children and even pushing/pulling heavy doors.

Whilst there are some training and diet plans aimed at bulking up, for most people weight training is about creating a lean and toned physique and feeling fitter and stronger.

If you are new to weight training, your plan should focus on the largest muscle groups – the chest, back, legs and bottom.  As your fitness improves, other muscles groups can be added to your plan.  

If you have been weight training for a while, review your plan and make adaptations so that you are still physically challenged and do not get bored.  Simple changes such as adding an incline to the bench can be very effective.

Weight bearing exercises should always be performed with smooth and controlled movements. If you are swinging and using momentum to lift the weight it is too heavy.  Maintain a neutral spine position, reduce the weight and concentrate on perfecting your form before increasing the weight.  Use mirrors or a partner to check your form as poor technique will delay or prevent results and worse, can lead to injury.

If you don’t know where to start ask for a member of staff at your gym to give you an induction – these are usually free.  Studio classes such as Bodypump have all the basic moves and techniques which you can transfer to the gym and Circuit Training classes also often include weight bearing moves that you can do at home. There are many books and magazines too which detail weight training plans and have photos and diagrams and there are a host of videos on YouTube.   Photo demos will also be coming to this site very soon.

The table below gives an at-a-glance guide to the differences between muscle building and muscle toning :

  Muscular Strength/Building Muscular Endurance/ Toning
Differences High intensity
Low Repetitions
Increased Size
Low intensity
High Repetitions
Toning
Benefits Increased bone density (reducing risk of osteoporosis), improved joint function, elevated HDL (good cholesterol), boosts confidence, improves posture
Reps  6 – 8  12 – 15 (max 25)
Sets 3 – 5  3
Resistance A weight that can be lifted no more than 8 times A weight that can be lifted more than 10 times but the last few lifts should feel tough
Rest 1 min (max) between sets 1 min (max) between sets

Here’s a little thought to leave you with….Cardio makes you look good in clothes, weight training makes you look good naked!

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