Summer Strength Training

by Warren Leslie

With summer in full swing, more and more of us are leaving the treadmill and stationary bike behind and hitting the outdoors for exercise. There’s nothing like the wind in your hair and a breath of fresh air but don’t forget about the benefits that come from strength training in the gym!

Studies have shown that strength training changes not only the body composition, but is also very beneficial for improving hormone production and reducing inflammation. I typically dedicate a significant portion of my personal training sessions and strength training classes to free weight training to ensure my clients see and experience these benefits. Here are a couple key benefits you can expect from training with a properly designed and balanced strength training program:

1. Change Body Composition!
A common mindset when in the gym is to focus on ‘losing weight’. More accurately, this mindset should be to focus on ‘losing fat’.

When first starting a program that has a new strength training component, you will lose some initial weight/fat. After this first stage our weight will begin to plateau. Then as we build up strength and muscle we may even see an increase on the scale. Don’t worry about this! This is the composition of our body changing from a doughy puff ball into a hardened, toned, calorie burning machine!

As we lift weights we are breaking down muscle and as we rest we build it back up stronger and more efficient to be able to preform that task again.

So as we rest after a strength training program our body is burning more calories then it would after an aerobic exercise. This is often referred to as the ‘After Burn’ effect of strength training.

When resting our aerobic system uses calories between workouts to repair our muscle, so higher rates of muscle rebuilding = higher overall calories used.

2. Improve Appearance!
Yes this may seem a bit vein, but let’s be frank here, when we improve our body composition we look and feel better.
A concern I’ve heard many times about strength training is “I don’t want to get to big”. This needn’t be a concern! Building high levels of muscle is extremely difficult. Unless you treat training like a full time job, it’s very unlikely you will reach the levels of muscle mass that you’re afraid of.

It’s far more likely that you will tone muscles rather than bulk up.

You will also see improvements in posture with resistance training, which is hugely beneficial to longevity of healthy joints and a healthy back.

3. Improve endurance!
That’s right! Strength training can help you break through those running plateaus!

By making those muscles in your legs stronger, joggers will tend to see progress in their running. This added ability for your legs to move your body weight with less effort will allow you to perform the same strides with more efficiency.

These are just a three of the many benefits that strength training can provide if you’re willing to add them to your routine. It is important to have sound technique and progress safely. The help of a coach (like myself, enter shameless plug here) who understands fundamental movement patterns can keep you safe and in the gym for longer and have you progressing faster.

This July I will also be running the Foundations of Strength Training workshop every Sunday – FREE for Urban Athlete Members. This workshop covers (in detail) the mechanics and form of traditional weightlifting exercises in a work & learn format. Focus is on technique and safe use / implementation of some of the core strength training exercises such as the squat, deadlift and clean (to name a few).

So when striving for a better beach bod and a better you this summer, make sure to add regular strength training to your overall weekly activities. Or join one of our many strength classes (and my weekly workshop) and let us help you add strength training to your workouts!