We all have a central motivation for strength training: to get in shape, look our best, or loose that extra bit of unwanted fat. These values have been the driving force of peoples’ fitness goals for years and years. But what else is strength training good for? For instance, resistance training has been heralded for its collection of workouts that are easy on the joints. Same goes for pool training as water weights are becoming a popular source of fitness.
Here are 10 benefits to strength training for you to focus on and help motivate you through your workout:
- Strong Muscles Equal Strong Bones
Routine weight lifting and strength training can help prevent osteoporosis. And the stronger your bones are, the stronger your musculoskeletal system, which means you can lift and move around more freely and further enjoy the activities you love.
- Muscle Conditioning Improves Posture
If you’re a sloucher and have been trying to improve your posture, ever consider weights? Conditioning your muscles helps them lift and support your body in its natural positioning. This will help you feel more confident, look more professional, and appear taller.
- Less Injuries With Stronger Muscles
When you train and exercise your muscles, it strengthens the connective tissue around them. In essence, you aren’t just training a specific muscle with any given workout, but bolstering an entire muscular system, improving ligament, tendon, and slow-twitch muscles strength and stability. All of these benefits equate to fewer and less severe injuries, because your muscles are the foundation to your moving body.
- Exercise Boosts Your Metabolism
Even at rest, your muscles burn a ton of calories in order to keep functioning. And if you’re trying to loose some of that extra weight, exercise kicks your metabolism into overdrive, and has you burning calories at an increased rate.
- Improves Your Sports Performance
This one is a no brainer if you’re an athlete. If you want to be a top performer in your sport of choice, you need to be bigger, faster, and stronger than your competition. Plus, certain sports put your joints and ligaments under a lot of stress. If your sport requires a body that can take a beating, than strength training and conditioning is a must have.
- Strong Muscles Rehabilitate Quickly
After you’ve suffered some sort of injury, there is always some sort of recuperation period that is followed by rehabilitation. And rehabilitation in its simplest understanding, is building muscle strength and range of motion back where the injury occurred. The stronger your muscles are, the quicker you will bounce back from an injury.
- Better Balance
If you’re lift weights and at the gym on a regular basis, you aren’t simply getting stronger, but improving your muscle control and balance as well. Whether you’re a dancer, soccer player, or gymnast, you need to maintain your balance and feel stabilized to perform confidently and at your highest level.
- Obesity Prevention
This is probably the greatest benefit to #4. When you build muscles you burn calories, and those calories come from fat. Cardiovascular conditioning is highly recommended to go along with your weight training. Regardless of how you choose to lose weight, shedding pounds and keeping your body fat percentage down adds years to your life.
- Higher Quality Of Life
When you feel strong, you feel better about yourself. Being able to enjoy the activities you want to do is important. If you’re hindered by your lack of fitness, it affects more than just your day-to-day routine. Exercise also releases the chemicals and hormones in your mind and body that improve your overall mood as well.
- Exercise And Anti Aging
Many people blame their lack of fitness on their age, when in fact, it is there lack of fitness that is making them age so quickly. Good exercise and nutrition are the two fundamental truths to feeling younger. You need to use your body and stay active in order to age gracefully. Solid aerobic conditioning mixed with strength training is a sure-fire way to looking and feeling your best.
Yoga, in its truest sense, is a practice that combines the mind and body. It can be your routine workout, or a meditative exercise. It requires very little to perform, and in some cases, simply requires you to sit in silence and concentrate on your breathing. But for some, taking a yoga class with a group is an enjoyable way to get some exercise. Many gyms offer classes in their dance studios and provide mats and other tools to enhance your yoga experience.
If you’re looking to really get into yoga, here are 7 essential tools you should look into that might heighten your experience:
There is a wide variety of yoga mats to choose from, some good and some bad. It really depends what you’re looking for out of a mat. For instance, Manduka mats come with a lifetime warranty. They are meant for those who practice yoga on a regular basis and want a mat that is going to last. There are lower grade mats that are sticky and tend to crumble into yoga mat confetti after a while. It is important to choose a mat that best fits your needs, especially for those just getting into yoga and require that extra bit of comfort.
Yoga Mat Towels
If you are a sweaty individual or practicing hot yoga, investing in a yoga mat towel is a considerate way of keeping up appearances at the gym or yoga studio. Lots of people bring beach towels or smaller hand towels from home, but a nice microfiber towel such as the Gaiam yoga mat towel is designed specifically to wick up moisture. Gaiam towels can double as a mat, and fit perfectly over that not-so-appealing communal yoga mat.
These yoga pillows offer exceptional support that are great for beginners looking to settle in to various poses. Yoga bolsters help you stay in a pose longer, and keep your concentration better focused on your breath and posture.
Another great tool for beginners who aren’t very flexible. Yoga straps are great for stretching poses where you aren’t quite able to reach your feet or other body parts. Straps provide that extra bit of length necessary to reach limbs and help you reach your flexibility goals. Instructors use yoga straps to assist students looking to go deeper into poses. Straps and scarfs are typically the alternative, but yoga straps are specifically designed with added features that are more suitable and accommodating.
Yoga blocks are another useful support tool to help prop beginners as well as yoga vets looking to better understand appropriate yoga positions. The blocks can also be used as hand and feet rests for those unable to reach the floor during a certain pose. But for the most part, yoga blocks are meant to support limbs and your back through labor-some poses to improve flexibility and alignment.
Yoga Mat Bag
Not exactly an essential yoga exercise tool, but we have all dealt with yoga mats unrolling and becoming exposed to damage. Yoga mat bags are great for those who practice their yoga at home and want to keep their mat tucked away when it isn’t in use. It doesn’t take much for a mat to come unraveled, and some yoga mat bags come with storage pouches for your keys and other personal belongings while class is in session.
Shoes are nice especially if you’re attending yoga classes and using communal mats, or if you have smelly and/or sweaty feet. But low-profile sneakers or split-soled ballet shoes offer that extra bit of support and/or grip you need to nail the toughest of poses. Things can become especially slippery when you’re performing hot yoga, and a nice pair of dance shoes or yoga-inspired cross trainers might be the difference you’ve been looking for all along with your yoga routine.
Many people who do Pilates agree that it is more than just a workout. Yes, after a few months you’ll notice your figure being more defined, but Pilates also helps clear people’s minds, teach self-discipline and improve focus. It is also amazing for sports training because it compliments weight lifting and builds core and stabilizer muscle strength. Pilates is also great exercise for rehabilitation after surgery, and does wonders for chronic joint pain.
Here are 5 essential benefits you’ll begin to notice once you partake in some Pilates:
- Increased Balance
Pilates works a lot of your slow twitch and stabilizer muscles that weight training doesn’t really work out very well. These muscles not only improve your overall weight training performance, but they improve your balance as well. Powerful muscles are what every athlete works hard for, but what good are those if you’re a lumbering oaf? Improving your balance is a positive for any athletic pursuit.
- Body Awareness
Body awareness goes hand in hand with balance. Improving your balance and strengthening the slow twitch and stabilizer muscles that support your larger muscle groups effectively improves your posture as well. It keeps you from postural deviations that lead to injuries caused by over- and under-developed muscles that pull on each other. Enhanced body control and awareness allows you to focus on different aspects of your sport of choice, making you look more natural and feel at ease about your athletic abilities.
- Prevents Injury
As the saying goes, so is it true with your overall fitness: you’re only as strong as your weakest link. Pilates is an overall body workout that has you working muscles in unison. It doesn’t isolate individual muscles groups, but rather strengthens your entire physique while engaging the most important part of your body: your core.
- Core Strength
There aren’t very many exercises out there that work your core as hard as Pilates. Any athlete who has his fitness dialed in will tell you, it all starts with your core. No matter what your sport is or what muscle groups are used most often, your core is where all of your power is derived from. Plus, a strong core helps prevent injuries, especially lower-back ailments.
- Muscle Definition
So you want to get in better shape, but don’t want bulky muscles commonly associated with weight lifting? If this sounds like you, than Pilates is exactly the workout you’ve been looking for. Pilates doesn’t focus on singular muscle groups, or what I like to call mirror muscles, but rather works the entire body. It builds strong yet compact muscles that are just as toned as any body builders minus that awkward bulkiness. And though Pilates is popular amongst women, it is a great exercise for men who are looking for improved muscle definition.
The list of exercises continues to grow as people find new and improved ways to stay fit. Some enjoy lifting weights, others like to run; then of course you have your swimmers and cyclists; and let’s not forget about the age old practices of yoga. But the newest workout craze goes by the name of Zumba®, an aerobic fitness program inspired by Latin music and dance.
Here are some fitness advantages to Zumba worthy of your consideration:
1. Full Body Workout
There is a bevy of Zumba routines that seems to be growing as we speak. Participants are constantly making new routines once their bodies become accustomed to their old one. Zumba draws from many different types of dance that lend themselves to different areas of the body. Because of this your workouts stay fresh and calories are always being burned as best as possible by shocking different areas of the body.
2. Customized Calorie Burning
Even Zumba routines with a strong emphasis on strength training have their foundations set in calorie and fat burning. But not everyone’s metabolism is the same, and some burn calories at different rates than others. The beauty of Zumba is that dance moves can be modified to fit your fitness, coordination, and skill.
3. Confidence Boosting
Many participants find their inhibitions are lowered substantially once they’ve started Zumba. The dance routines improve your flexibility, posture, and overall confidence as you continue to grow and see improvements.
4. Coordination Boosting
Some people a born with two left feet and find it difficult to walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. The dance routines practices with Zumba are great opportunities to improve your foot work and coordination. You’ll notice that as you continue with your Zumba exercises your awareness, rhythm and coordination are slowly but surely becoming second nature.
5. The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have Exercising
Those who have switched over from their regular workout regimen to Zumba all say the same thing: that was so much more fun. If you like to dance, than this is the least troublesome exercise you’ll ever get. You’ll no longer have to motivate yourself to go to the gym. It isn’t painstaking like lifting weights, and most people who finish a Zumba routine leave feeling more energized than when they arrived.
6. Make your Own Workout
When you’re lifting weights, there is only a handful of exercises you can really do, and a lot of the time, people find themselves struggling to think of something new. With Cycling, you’re stuck on a stationary staring at a wall. Zumba isn’t as strict of a workout plan. It is meant for creativity and allows you to improvise on the go, focus your mind, burn some calories, and let it all hang out.
No it is not technically a word…yet. But as yoga pants and fashionable sweats are being sported in places other than just the gym, it was only a matter of time before a new style of classification was born. Like it or not, athleisure is in, and it looks like it is here to stay.
Designers and retailers noticed a trend on the upward rise and are looking to capitalize on it in every way, shape and form. Ladies have taken leggings and their traditional use to whole new heights and dawned a new fashion trend that fits a substantial and broadening array of athletic and leisure applications. But this is more than just a trend. Yoga pants and leggings are everywhere today. Under skirts, shorts, pants, and sometimes just by themselves. You can’t turn a street corner without seeing somebody in a pair of skin tight yoga pants.
With more and more ladies dawning their athleisure apparel, there is a demand for stylish and fashionable designs as the number of appropriate applications continues to expand. At one point in time there was a clear line drawn between athletic wear and leisure wear, between gym clothes and an office suit. But as the hustle-and-bustle lifestyle continued to gobble up everyone’s day, it was only a matter of time before the demand for functional hybrid clothing was needed. Now people have the freedom to go from the gym to the office without having to deal with the hassle of changing.
The taglines are more inspirational than ever: “Clothing for a comfortably confident life,” says Lou and Grey. But make no mistake, athleisure is here to stay. You can quote a number of different possible reasons, but it is probably safe to say that there has been a cultural shift towards a healthier lifestyle. And because of this, people are requiring flexible wardrobes that fit their more active, on-the-go routines. This fashion craze isn’t just affecting pants and tops. Low-profile cross trainers and fitness sneakers that are both athletic and fashionable are wildly popular today as well.
Shoes that you can jazzercise in and then wear to the boardroom are becoming increasingly popular. Lots of designs are inspired by light-weight dance shoes with thin yet supportive in- and outsoles. As athleisure apparel continues to gain traction in the fashion and clothing industry, it’s not a question of how long will it last, but rather what is next. And that it would seem, remains to be seen.