Strength Training Doesn’t Make You Bulky!
Let’s mention that strength training isn’t about bulking up and becoming the next Mr. or Ms. Universe. You certainly can bulk up if you want to, but know that the ability to become bulky is largely due to your genetics, your diet and your dedication. If you want to become super big – and most people don’t – you’ll have to exercise several hours a day and you’ll probably need a professional trainer.
Strength training is using resistance to cause your muscles to contract. When those muscles contract, they get stronger, you lose weight, and you improve your systems on many levels.
Strength training is exercise:
- It uses resistance, which can be in the form of bodyweight, resistance bands, or weights.
- It induces or causes muscular contraction.
- It builds the strength, endurance, and size of skeletal muscles.
Before we dive into how to add strength training into your workout, let’s talk a bit about what strength training is. It’s important to know that there are differences in approaches, depending on your current fitness level and your exercise personality.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training, aka weight training, is a type of exercise that involves using resistance to build muscle strength and endurance. You can use body weight, resistance bands, and of course you can use dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls and on and on.
If you think that bodyweight isn’t enough to get a good workout, you’re going to be surprised just how effective it can be. You can get quite a good strength training workout right in your living room. Try performing 50 bodyweight squats right now. Yep, you’ll feel the burn. You’ll probably feel the burn tomorrow too. However, once your muscles have recovered they’ll be leaner and stronger.
Push-ups and pull-ups are two bodyweight strength training exercises that you can do in your living room as well. The good old fashioned plank position is a resistance exercise, and dips using your kitchen chair as a bench can help you build strength in your back and shoulders. In fact, there’s no muscle group you cannot work from your own living room. No excuses!
Do You Fear the Weight Room?
Many women, and plenty of men too, have a fear of the weight room. They hear the weights crashing to the floor and the grunts as the lifters go heavy. To be fair, this can be an intimidating environment. However, it can also be extremely empowering and also a whole lot of fun. The key is to learn proper form and function from an expert.
For example, do you know how to do a proper squat or how to deadlift with good form? This is important because you can hurt yourself if you don’t lift the bar the right way.
Remember that no one is born with weight room knowledge. Everyone has to learn from the beginning. You can learn from watching videos online. You can hire a personal trainer. You can also take a “foundations” type class at your local gym and learn about the weight room with a group of beginners.
Also keep in mind that no one starts lifting heavy right away. You might find that you start with the training barbell (15 pounds) plus a few small weight plates, or that you just lift an empty barbell for several months. That’s fine. You’re building muscle and burning fat. You’re getting stronger and improving your overall health and wellbeing, and that’s what it’s all about.
If the gym weight room isn’t for you there are other options. You can build your own home gym. Weights don’t actually cost much and they don’t break. You can start slowly and purchase a barbell, a few dumbbells, and some 5 and 10 pound weight plates.
That beginning setup should get you through just about any exercise you’d need. Or, if you prefer, you can invest in a set of kettle bells. There are some fantastic exercises that you can perform with kettle bells.
You can also invest in resistance bands and begin your entrance into strength training with bodyweight and resistance.
There are as many strength training options as there are different types of people. Consider how you want to begin and what you’re interested in. The next step is to dispel a few of the prevalent strength training myths and begin to build your own strength training program.