The Joyful Anthology

Strength Training for Fitness and Joy

Every now and then, there  are aspects in our lives that need tuning into, reconfiguring and restructuring.
I recently spent some time evaluating how I felt with my physical activity and routine and how my body was feeling. With careful attention, I realized I was in fact feeling out of balance. Since I love running so much, I was spending most of the time I devote to exercise to running without designating enough time to strength training, which I have also always been passionate about. It was about a month ago that I made a conscious effort to restructure my workout schedule and routine and  I also modified my runs with incorporating cross training as well. I am back at the gym, strength training and it feels so good! My energy feels better, my body feels stronger during my runs and little aches and pains I was experiencing, are mostly gone. I feel happier and I am also noticing leaner muscle mass.. who doesn’t want that?

In a 2011 opinion poll reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), less than 20 percent of women contacted said they accomplished the CDC’s recommendations for 2 1/2 hours of aerobic exercise and two periods of strength training weekly. Yet the benefits speak for themselves. Inactive adults experience a 3 to 8 percent loss of muscle mass per decade. Resistance training may increase resting metabolism by about 7 percent and help minimize muscle loss.

What’s more, when you strength train, you burn calories at a higher rate. Working with weights keeps your body working long after you’ve stopped lifting. This is the process commonly called “after-burn.” There is much talk in exercise circles about the body’s ability to continue burning calories after exercise, called “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption,” or EPOC.

The benefits of strength training are remarkable for so many reasons, here are some to mention:

~Physiologically, the benefits of consistent strength training include an increase in muscle tone, increased muscular strength, and increases in tendon, bone, and ligament strength.

~Lifting weights has also been shown to improve psychological health as well, by increasing self-esteem, confidence, and self-worth.

~Increased energy: more endurance, power and strength which translate into more useable energy

~Improved digestion and elimination processes. Your body is built for and meant to be active in all ways

~Better sleep: exercise enables a better sleep pattern to develop

~Weight loss: muscle burns more calories than fat because of the higher rate of metabolism within the muscle tissues

~Strong bones: increased bone mineral density as a result of the imposed loads being placed upon the bone during the exercise sessions

~ Control of depression: you are active in a productive manner and the brain sends out endorphins signaling a happy pleasant state of mind during and after exercise

~Decreased stress: you are doing something for YOURSELF

~ Added protection from heart disease

~Increased endorphins

~ Increased self-confidence, self image, self-perception and outward self-projection.

~Preserves muscle mass
Muscle mass diminishes with age. You can counteract this loss through strength training. The percentage of fat on your body increases as you get older if you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose. Strength training helps preserve and enhance your muscle mass, regardless of your age.~Body fat percentage decreases

~Blood pressure readings decrease

~ Heart rate decreases

~ Cardiovascular circulation capacity increases

~ Prevents injuries: Our muscles also function as shock absorbers and serve as important balancing agents throughout our body. Well-conditioned muscles help to lessen the repetitive landing forces in weight-bearing activities.

~Empowerment : Watching your body transform as a result of strength training is a wonderful experience. You have the ability to change how your body looks and feels with confidence. You will feel overall more  powerful, and know you’re doing yourself a favor for years to come.

Tips for Strength Training:

~If you are unfamiliar with strength based exercise routine, research an experienced personal trainer. Interview a few before hiring he or she. Make a list of goals you have and be transparent with them as to what your goals are and notice if the chemistry feels good between the two of you.

~Download a fitness app that appeals to you and inspires and motivates you.

`~Create a schedule and write it down in a journal or organizer. Ideally 2-3 days of strength work is the amount you need to see consistent results. Try and fit these workouts into your week in places that feel convenient for you.

~Be mindful about nutrition and supplementing.  The most common mistake most people make is not eating after they train or not eating the right thing.

The post workout meal should have at least 20% of the athletes daily protein needs. 
To calculate your post workout protein needs take .20 times your body weight. This meal could be further enhanced by containing BCAA’S and Glutamine.

~ Rest Between Sets: The amount of time that you rest between sets is dependent upon the intensity at which you lift (how close to your maximum). If you are doing higher reps (12-15) then you rest periods will be shorter (45-75 seconds), but if you are doing only a few reps (1-5) then you will need longer periods (2-5minutes) between each set.

~Make it fun! Bring music if that creates more joy for you during your workout. Try and do exercises that feel fun for you too.

~Find a partner ..trying to find a workout buddy is always a good idea for making workouts more fun. You can always learn from eachother and keep eachother accountable


photos by Christian Caroll

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