What is strength fitness?
Why strength fitness should form a big part of your planned movement workouts.
Being physically fit comes in different forms. For example, someone who can run a marathon is no doubt physically fit, but they might not be able to lift heavy weights. Someone who might be able to lift heavy weights on the other hand, might not be able to run a marathon, but they too are still physically fit. Broadly speaking, fitness can be divided into different categories – endurance fitness, flexibility fitness and strength fitness.
What is strength fitness?
Strength fitness focuses specifically on one of the four pillars of fitness – strength. How strong your muscles are will directly impact your ability to move and lift objects. As strength training makes you stronger and builds muscle endurance, it’s an important part of any movement workout routine.
Strength training involves moving your body against some type of resistance. This could range from a machine found in a gym, to free weights, dumbbells and kettlebells, and can also be done without any equipment at all, using just your own bodyweight.
Why is strength fitness important?
Research has highlighted that there are many health benefits of physical exercise in relation to strength training, with findings suggesting that the greater your muscular strength is, the better your overall health and athletic performance will be.1 Other benefits include:
• A greater ability to enjoy your movement workout before getting tired
• Easier maintenance of a healthy body weight and enhanced body composition (the ratio between fat and muscle.)
• Boosted mood and energy levels, along with healthier sleep patterns
• Better posture and relief from back pain due to stronger muscles
• Greater stability, balance and flexibility, making it less likely that you will experience as many injuries and falls
• A greater ability to burn calories, even after you stop exercising
• Better bone health and bone density
• Improved brain health and better cognitive function
• Improved mood, confidence and sense of wellbeing
Can strength fitness help with illnesses and chronic conditions?
There have been studies that suggest2 that the symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as back pain, arthritis, diabetes and even heart disease can be reduced by taking part in regular physical exercise that includes strength training.
Different types of strength fitness
Strength fitness can be done at home, in a gym or even when you are out and about. If you prefer the structure of a gym, there are resistance machines that work various muscles groups and fitness classes that incorporate weights or other strength-bearing exercise, like circuit training or body pump. Activities that you might have considered more endurance based can also be great for strength training though – running, hill climbing and cycling all put pressure on your leg muscles to propel you forward, for example.
Greater physical and muscular strength comes by regularly challenging your muscles to work harder than they do usually. Along with the targeted strength fitness workouts you do, there are opportunities to get in some additional strength training that you may not even have considered. Next time you have a choice of taking a lift or walking up the stairs – take the stairs. When you go food shopping park a little further away and carry your bags to the car rather than pushing them in a trolley. Incorporating strength training into your everyday tasks will help you experience the health benefits of physical exercise without even realizing you are doing any!