Strength Training

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Maximise those muscles. Strength training, (also known as resistance training), isn’t just useful for those who want to build a fearsome physique – it’s also a great way to stay fit, toned and healthy. Time to pump some iron...

How does it work?

Easily bored? Working with weights may not be for you. Resistance training makes use of repetitive exercises to condition the muscles – strengthening them and improving their efficiency. A typical strength training session lasts from half an hour to an hour, and will work different groups of muscles, depending on your fitness goals.

Beginners may find it helpful to enlist the help of a personal trainer or join a dedicated gym class to help them learn the ropes. Your instructor will teach you the basics, such as:

*'''Using a weight machine''' – A good place for novices to begin, weight machines will help you to develop good technique and prevent you from doing yourself a nasty injury

*'''Free weights''' – these can help you to work a variety of different muscle groups. Choose from barbells, dumbbells or kettle bells to get you in to shape.

*'''Hydraulic/elastic resistance''' – a cross trainer or exercise band helps you build strength without using weights. These involve working against an increasing force, meaning that your muscles are exercised in a very different way.

*'''Body weight exercises''' – sit-ups, push-ups, leg raises and triceps dips can be performed anywhere, so are great if you are pushed for time to get to the gym.

Even if you’re feeling incredibly enthusiastic about your resistance training, it’s a good idea to take it easy sometimes. Your muscles need 48 hours to recover been sessions, so make sure you don’t work the same group twice in a row.

Is it for me?

Women – don’t be fooled into thinking that strength training is just for men. Boosting the metabolism and helping muscles to work more efficiently, strength exercises can aid posture and firm up those wobbly bits. They can also help you to protect your body against injury, increase your bone density and keep your heart in good health. And you thought it was just about the guns...

Resistance training can have many health benefits, but it’s not necessarily the right choice for everyone. If you are pregnant or suffer from a medical condition that you think may make you an unsuitable candidate for strength training, then it’s probably best to find a different way to work out.

Good to know

Want to improve your strength and stamina, but don’t fancy looking like a professional bodybuilder? Don’t worry – plenty of people regularly practise resistance training without winding up like Popeye.

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