Strength training is physical training with the express goal of changing the structural or mechanical properties of the human body. It is a fairly broad term that can encompass improving muscle size, force output, the rate of force development and efficiency of contraction. To differentiate it from other forms of resistance training (whether with your own body or weights ) its primary goal is to build improved force production capability of the muscular system.
Strength training has benefits across a wide range of exercise modalities, and much like aerobic fitness has wide-reaching implications for general health. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) highlights that strength training should be performed at least twice per week for all to support a normal healthy lifestyle.
Increasing force production of the musculoskeletal system is key to improving function in daily tasks and maintaining the ability to do so in later life. Being able to carry a heavy object or stand up from a chair are tasks we all have to complete regardless of age and are facilitated by muscle strength.
Exercise requires putting the body through force far in excess of bodyweight, notably due to gravity and velocity multiplying force acting on the body. Greater muscular strength raises the capacity of each muscle to perform and thereby requires less effort to absorb these forces. Joints and bones are likewise supported by the muscular system and greater strength reduces the forces being transmitted to these structures, protecting them from overuse and injury.
Improving mobility is an important part of physical health. Increasingly the length of muscle or improving the range of motion about a joint without subsequently strengthening the increased length is often putting that structure at risk of injury. If the muscles have a certain force output then increasing the range they operate over will inevitably dilute this capacity and a structured plan to work on strength and stability alongside mobility is essential.
Muscle is an active tissue, unlike adipose (fat), and increasing the proportion of muscle to fat will raise our metabolic capacity. This is vital for increasing resting and exercising calorie expenditure and blood flow throughout the body, forming a key part of weight loss.
Speed, agility and endurance are all underpinned by fundamental muscle strength. All activities require force production as a key component and often strength increases are the easiest way to improve their qualities quickly.
Strength training need not be seen as something that’s only for elite athletes and instead can be gradually integrated into anyone’s weekly exercise routine and working life. Throwing yourself in at the deep end without proper instruction and guidance is not advised, so always seek advice from one of our Strength and Conditioning Coaches to find out where best to start
Ideally, strength training should be introduced in a graded and progressive manner taking into account your current exercise habits and injury history. ACSM guidelines recommend at least twice per week and doing multi-joint exercises that focus on lower body, upper body and trunk strength. The workouts need not be long and boring with session length ideally no more than 45 minutes with appropriate rest in-between sets and exercises of between 2 and 4 minutes, depending on load lifted. Sets and reps vary considerably but 2 – 5 sets or between 4 to 12 repetitions can be appropriate depending on load lifted, muscles worked and training history.
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1:1 sessions with a Strength & Conditioning Coach are £96 for 60 minutes. We offer discounted packs of 6, 10 or 20 sessions and the option of paying in installments via direct debit.