Many of us are aware that strength training is an important part of a complete workout. What is the best way to begin?
Beginning exercisers should start with foundational strength training performed on well-designed resistance machines. This will provide proper movement patterns, body support and highly stable performance conditions. Examples of this would be a leg extension machine or a lat pull down machine at the gym. A seat provides correct support and the machine positions the body for correct movement.
The next step can be fundamental strength training. The exerciser performs similar movements to work the same body parts but uses free weights instead of machines. This will provide more movement freedom, less body support, and moderately stable performance conditions. The core is required to provide more spinal stabilization for each movement. Multiple muscle groups work together to support the movement. For example, a standing bicep curl not only works the bicep and supporting arm muscles but requires the core and legs to be part of the movement as stabilizers.
The exerciser can then move to functional strength training. A variety of resistance equipment, including medicine balls and stability balls, will facilitate movement freedom as well as unsupported and unstable performance conditions. Integrated body movements will require upper and lower body muscle groups to work together and call on the core to maintain stabilization during the entire movement pattern. This strength training style mimics real-life situations like lifting a sleeping child from an interior car seat or carrying big Costco boxes from the cart to the trunk.
This progression has been found to provide relatively high rates of strength development, as well as, relatively low rates of physical injury and mental burnout. The exerciser should plan to perform 8 - 10 exercises that address each major muscle group using resistance that fatigues the muscle in 8 - 12 repetitions. This should be repeated two to three non-consective days per week.
Include strength training in your weekly workouts and enjoy feeling strong and healthy!