An introduction to Strength
Building strength is not necessarily the same thing as building massive muscles. You can be strong without bulging biceps and still feel the benefits of having power and stability. Being strong allows us to live our lives easily as when we need to lift, carry or just move efficiently and easily. We can improve our strength in different ways, by increasing our lean muscle tissue and also building our core stability.
Building muscle tissue is a wise idea for everyone, as it’s a fact of life that as we get older we lose muscle mass. The decline is estimated to start at 30 and by the age of 50 the average person loses 1 - 2% of their total muscle mass every year. This affects sports performance, leading to a decline in performance, and also daily problems, such as trouble carrying heavy bags.
Even if you don’t mind getting a little weaker, you may mind getting much fatter as it’s a fact that as muscle wastes away so body fat increases. This is partly because muscle burns calories even while you’re resting and fat doesn’t. Increases in body fat also mean increases in susceptibility to conditions like heart disease and diabetes. So building muscle can also mean dropping your fat levels.
Strength can increase the quality of performance in sport because we need power to sprint, lift weight and also in strength we find endurance as we are more able to push ourselves using the energy stores within our muscles. Our hearts also benefit as when your muscles are strong they can perform better with less oxygen, meaning the heart doesn't have to pump hard when you are active. You’ll also find your blood pressure is lower.
Increasing your core strength will increase your core stability. Your ‘core’ is the band of muscles which surround the middle of your body like a corset. They include stomach muscles and muscles in your back. They support and ‘hold up’ the centre of your body, including your spine.
This can have great health benefits as when these muscles are strong, posture is improved as your muscles, as well as your bones, are supporting and carrying your body. More muscle power means you put less strain on joints and connective tissue when lifting or exerting. Pilates is a particularly good way to build this strength and is helpful for anyone who’s injured or unable to lift weight or exercise because of injury or chronic problems. Building strength in this area can also help balance and control meaning you are less likely to be injured during exercise.
So whether you want to excel at your chosen sport or make the most out of your everyday life, building strength will certainly help.