WASHINGTON — From dance cardio classes, to trampoline jumping, to cycling in the dark — there have never been so many ways to break a sweat.
Spicing up your fitness routine with a new workout is a great way to stay engaged and active, but Sarah Walls, president of Strength and Performance Training in Fairfax, Virginia, warns not to ignore the “tried-and-true components of your health and fitness” — especially strength training.
Walls has been in the fitness industry for more than a decade, and over the years she has seen people skip out on strength training for a number of reasons. Some worry lifting weights will cause them to look more like a bodybuilder and less like a leaner version of themselves. Others fear pumping iron will make them more prone to injury.
Walls said neither holds true. In fact, the benefits of improved muscular strength are too good to ignore.
“You’re going to live your day-to-day easier. That can be just carrying your bags to and from the office, getting up and down off the floor. It’s little things like that strength training solves for people,” Walls said.
The benefits of cardiovascular exercise have long been associated with decreased risk of heart disease, an improved immune system, and lower levels of anxiety and depression. Now, new research shows muscular health carries the same weight. Recent studies even show it chips away at cognitive decline and delays the development of Alzheimer’s.
Strength training also protects bone health and fights osteoporosis, while helping to manage chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes.
“And this is simply through doing something that’s incredibly positive for yourself, which is keeping your body strong,” Walls said.
It doesn’t require a huge investment, either. Walls said two to three days a week for 30 to 45 minutes is all you need to reap the benefits. In that time, she recommends doing a squat pattern, a hinge pattern, and a push and a pull. (See videos below for demonstrations.)
Another piece of advice? Focus less on superficial goals and more on long-term health. It’s easy to fixate on the numbers on the scale or the size of a dress, but instead, think of strength training more like a continuing plan for wellness.
“We have to all start learning to understand our health and wellness as being a really paramount thing in our lives that we need to start in our teens and our 20s and carry on through old age,” Walls said.
“The research that’s coming out about physical fitness and health, it’s tied to everything. It’s tied to all of our performance in every aspect of our lives … So just taking that time, wherever you fit it in, it’s really, really important.”
Videos to help you strength train
Tips for the squat:
The bowler squat:
The goblet squat:
Hinge pattern: Trap bar deadlift
Hinge pattern: Single leg RDL
Push: Tiger crawl into push ups
How to fix common push-up problems:
Pull: Rib position in rows
Pull: Renegade row
Pull: Inverted row