Weight training. For some people, these two words conjure up images of ginormous, muscly blokes working on their biceps with oversized dumbbells in a stinky, chalk-dusted gym. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, but more and more, the broader population are starting to see past the stereotypical gym attendee and the misconception that weight training = bulkiness, and to understand the benefits of incorporating strength training into their workout routines.
As a general concept, strength training provides a huge range of health benefits; it works as an exceptional fat loss tool by increasing muscle mass (noting that muscle takes more calories to maintain at rest than fat does, meaning the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn doing nothing!) and increasing caloric burn post-work out. Resistance training also improves cardiovascular health and lung capacity and helps prevent the onset of osteoporosis in women by supporting the maintenance of bone density.
For runners, the benefits of adding 1-2 strength sessions into your schedule each week can have a profound impact on performance and longevity in the sport. Benefits include increased capability in muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments, meaning they will be better able to withstand the impact of running and therefore decrease your risk of injury.
If you’re new to the gym and don’t know where to start, do some sessions with a personal trainer in the first instance; learning how to train with correct form is essential for avoiding injury and getting the most out of the exercises. Focus on compound movements that you can do in the gym (weighted squats, deadlifts or weighted lunges) or at home (bodyweight squats, bodyweight lunges, plank or other core strength exercises) and be sure to include a decent stretch and/or foam roll session once a week.
Editorial by Rebecca Walker