Growing up, the sports I played, like hockey and soccer, were more endurance and skill dependent, so coaches never really focused on weight training. On the field, or at the arena, practise time was devoted to either running drills, or sprinting/skating until you felt like puking. The mentality was that the more "fit" your cardiovascular system was, the better you would be able to play in the last minutes of a game. If you happened to get stronger doing it, so be it.
In University, I used to shake my head at the guys in the gym doing weights. I figured these were the fellows who didn't have enough skills to play a sport, and needed some other way to show their manhood. There were rarely any women there, and the weight machines (what ever happened to Nautilus?) were kept in horrible condition. I was focused more on long distance running, swimming, cycling at this point, and couldn't waste time adding weights.
Today, I have come full circle, and recommend weight training as part of any physical fitness regime.
The benefits are clear at this stage, and I've listed only a few below
- Fall Prevention in the Elderly (NEJM, Sept 1994)
- Improvement in Bone Density British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2000
- Improvement in Metabolic Rate (ie weight loss)
- Improvement in Strength
- Improvement in Arthritis Pain, Blood Pressure, Diabetes Control
What Should I Do?
If you aren't already, adding weight training to your workout is worth doing. Consulting with a trainer is worthwhile, and they should clearly explain what technique to follow. They should also be able to explain the specific muscles that an exercise will target, and how the exercise achieves this. If they can't, find someone who can.
Muscles are, for the most part, fairly straight forward. When they contract, they move a joint, flexing or extending it. The more you use it, the stronger, and more toned it gets.
- Breathe! When lifting/pushing/pulling the weight, remind yourself to exhale. People often hold their breath when they strain, and this is not a good thing for your body for a number of reasons.
- Aim to do 8-10 repetitions for a given exercise. Find a reasonable amount of weight that will allow you to get 8-10 reps before you are too fatigued to push more. Trying to impress people with a huge load will only get them laughing at you behind your back.
- Good Form. Maybe the most important. Understand the purpose of the exercise you are attempting. Know how the muscle you are focusing on moves, and try to use only that muscle to achieve the movement. Keep your core (trunk) as still as possible, and go through as full a range of motion as you can comfortably do. NEVER cheat through the exercise, just to get it done. If you can't isolate the movement, lighten the weight and try again.
Hopefully, this is useful. We'll keep expanding training, and advancing if the interest is there.
Let me know if you have any specific training questions.
I love the feedback!