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Is Something is Better Than Nothing?

RS2273 shutterstock 263097353When it comes to strength training, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Most of us are aware of the benefits of strength training in areas like everyday physical function, bone rebuilding, self-confidence, fat reduction, and elevated metabolism. But did you know that strength training can also help prevent diabetes, enhance your cognitive ability, reduce blood pressure, reverse the aging process associated with muscular decline, and help balance your cholesterol levels?

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends strength training exercises for all major muscle groups 2-3 times a week: upper body, lower body, core, chest, shoulders, and arms.

But let me be honest, I haven’t always practiced what I’ve preached about strength training. Running has consistently been a part of my life since high school, but it’s a struggle to maintain a regular strength routine. However, as I’ve dealt with knee, lower back, and hamstring injuries  in the past few years, I’ve learned that I need to incorporate some basic strength training if I want to continue to run.

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Weight lifting IS for Women!

12370705 10153724420488076 2605730730360459348 oI was at the gym a few weeks ago and a thought occurred to me, which I’ve always known, but never realized on a conscious level. Very rarely do I see another female lifting weights. I go up to the cardio room and there’s an even mixture of men and women on the various machines, running, biking, walking, or rowing, but the weight room is always dominated by men. Now, this is a smaller gym, the exercise facility is for company employees and their families only. But I have to wonder; where are all the women? Do females think that they aren’t supposed to lift weights? Or that they don’t need to?

As a high school athlete, I was taught proper form and expected to lift twice a week with my team when we were in season. How hard we actually worked in the weight room varied greatly, and we were never pushing ourselves to get stronger. We didn’t have a strength coach, our workouts were supervised by our volleyball coach, and she often didn’t show up until the end of our session.

However, at the high school where I now work as an athletic trainer, our boys and our girls get in the weight room everyday (in season and out of season) and work hard to get bigger, faster, and stronger with their sport coaches plus a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS). These girls don’t just go through the motions, either. They are breaking school records, winning championships, and challenging the notion that women shouldn’t lift.

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The signs of spring are making themselves known. The days are getting longer and the sun is shining a little brighter.  As temperatures rise, so does the number of people lacing up their shoes and running.  Many people are signing up for their favorite spring and summer races and setting their running goals for the upcoming year.  Whether you are a novice or a professional runner, the question remains the same: What is the best way to train for a race?  One key factor to successful running, but too often overlooked, is the importance of strength training.

Studies are showing more and more that running alone is not enough.  Strength training provides a great number of benefits that running alone cannot.  In an era when time is a precious commodity, many runners choose to place their efforts toward running and skip strengthening.  This is also because of the misconception of getting more “bang for your buck” in that cardiovascular exercises burn more calories.  However, coupling workouts with strength training increases weight loss as well the ability to burn more calories throughout the day.  Fat does not burn calories.  Muscle, on the other hand, uses between 4.5 and 7 calories per pound of muscle every day (Runners World, 2009).  The lower the body fat percentage one has, the more calories one will burn each day while at rest. 

Published in Blog