Afraid of strength training? Think you're going to get the body of Arnold Schwarzenegger during his tour as Mr. Universe? You're not alone.
Many women fear that strength training will make them "bulk up." But, the fear of building more muscle is entirely misguided.
In reality, most people don't have enough muscle. Adults who don't strength train lose about one-half pound of lean muscle tissue every year. The loss of this muscle tissue, known as sarcopenia, can begin as early as age 25, then increases around age 40, and increases drastically after age 70.
Why It's a Big Deal to Lose Muscle Mass
First off, losing muscle means sacrificing your strength and postural
support. If that's not enough to convince you that muscle mass is important, then consider this fact: muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue. The more muscle that you have, the higher your metabolism. If you lose muscle with age, then your metabolism slows down, and you inevitably gain weight.
The good news is that regular strength training not only wards off future muscle loss, but it can actually reverse sarcopenia, revving up your metabolism in the process. Research from the Department of Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh shows that sarcopenia is accelerated with a lack of physical activity, specifically a lack of resistance exercise.
However, resistance training has a positive result on reversing sarcopenia. In fact, one report indicates that individuals who participated in three months of resistance training increased their rate of muscle protein synthesis by 50 percent.
Follow these guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine for adding strength training to your regular workout regimen.
Complete at least eight to 10 repetitions of any given exercise for each of your major muscle groups, including pectorals, latissimus dorsi, deltoids, gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and abdominals.
Use Combination Moves
Exercises that use multiple muscles at one time are preferred over exercises that utilize only a single muscle group.
Intensity is not only reserved for cardiovascular workouts. You want your rate of perceived exertion to be somewhat hard while performing strength training exercises.
Strength training should be part of your workout regimen at least two times per week, with some time in between these workouts for recovery.
Build muscle at a fitness class