This is a question I hear often. Strength training is necessary for functional strength in everyday living. Without strength training with weights or body resistance, the aging process will result in three degenerative conditions: loss of bone strength, reduced muscle mass and strength, and lower hormone production.
In contrast, with the inclusion of strength and resistance training, the aging process will be delayed. Here are some basic strength training principles when choosing your resistance level:
Overload: To build muscle, you need to challenge your muscles.
The more your body is capable of lifting; the more definition you will see in
your body composition. In plain language, this means you should be lifting enough weight that ONLY the desired number of reps can be performed.
Your last 2-3 reps should be challenging to complete with keeping proper
Progression: To avoid plateaus, you need to increase your intensity
regularly. There are a few ways to accomplish this goal: increase the weight lifted, change the numbers of sets and/or reps, and vary the order of the workout.
Rest and Recovery: Rest days are just as important as workout days. It is during these rest periods that your muscles grow and change. At least one day per week should incorporate a leisurely workout such as tai chi, yoga, or Pilates. With this in mind, if you perform a full body workout with weights, do not lift weights again for 48-72 hours. Alternate your weight training days with intense interval training days.
Here is an alternative way to estimate the weight needed for your workout. Consider these questions when picking up that dumbbell:
How heavy is the baby on my hip?
How heavy is my purse?
How heavy is my laptop?
How heavy is my grocery bag?
How heavy is my luggage?
In order to have functional strength to perform these activities, you need
to follow the principles listed above with weights or resistance that match
your daily activities. The resistance should be challenging with keeping proper
form. Taking preventative measures to minimize bone and hormonal loss along with overall functional health will promote longevity for many years to come.
Take the time to find out what motivates you to workout-- Start today!