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Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 05:42 pm

The importance of strength training

Don’t wait. Make time for weights.

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Personal trainer Cole Endres demonstrates for Stephanie Templeton proper technique for the lunge, an important bodyweight exercise.
PHOTO BY JOSEPH COPLEY

Move. It’s one of the simplest things that humans innately do on a day-to-day basis. So how come more than 70 percent of Americans are sedentary?

We were made to be constantly moving, but there are many distractions that keep us from doing this. TV, video games, Facebook, cars and fast food joints have all limited us and our physical activity level.

Strength training is one of the most important things that everyone – men and women – need to fit into their workout. By working out with weights, you are helping to protect your bones and muscles. Both of these naturally deteriorate as we age and they need to be preserved in order to steer clear of diseases, bad posture and poor overall health.

About 1 in 10 people over 50 have osteoporosis, or weak and brittle bones. This greatly increases the risk for broken bones and hospitalization. With weak bones and a weak body, it’s easy to lose your functional independence. This can all be avoided by adding weight-bearing exercises to build and protect your bone mass.

A common misconception is that women will “bulk up” or look muscular like a guy if they lift weights. This is far from the truth. Girls can never grow muscles the same way guys do because of their hormones. Women naturally have low testosterone, which is a main component to building muscle.

Do you like the look of lean, toned arms and legs that is so often highlighted on your favorite celebrity? They don’t get that way by doing endless hours of cardio. Lifting weights is the only way to build muscle and give you that sleek and sculpted look. Unless artificial substances are pumped into the body, females cannot get “big and bulky” like men.

Weight training also will make you stronger. Why wouldn’t you want to be strong? It makes everyday tasks easier and can also build your confidence. How do you plan on picking up your kids or grandkids if you can’t lift a 30-pound dumbbell? Strength training is not limited to just dumbbells and barbells, it also includes bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups and lunges.

As the director of personal training at Gold’s Gym, I have overseen many different people training. The best way to start using weights is to slowly and correctly get introduced to them. If you weight-train with poor or incorrect form, you are more likely to injure yourself and cause serious damage to your body. With proper instruction and appropriate resistance, weight training is highly beneficial throughout the entire lifespan.

Unfortunately, two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. This is not new news; over the past several decades, more shortcuts have become available for people making them lazy, sedentary and lethargic. Years ago, fast food chains, cars, computers and TVs were not around to make us lazy. People had to do physical labor and cook every meal. Although there are many factors for why America is so fat, most of them are excuses and can be avoided for a healthier and more vibrant life.

The number one excuse I hear from people who don’t exercise is that they do not have enough time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strength training should be performed on “two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms).” Exercise needs to become a top priority in everyone’s schedule; if we don’t take care of our body, we cannot live a long and disease-free life. Would you rather spend one hour exercising or 24 hours dead?

Working your body and staying fit is a journey. I have been a part of many physical transformations and have watched people work hard day-in and day-out. It is possible for everyone and anyone to exercise, whether you want to lose 5 pounds or 100 pounds, gain muscle or lower your blood pressure.

Weight training should be a main component in your daily routine. The benefits are unrivaled. You will look better, feel better and make your doctor happier. No matter your age, weight, fitness level or experience in the gym, it is never too late to pick up some weight and get moving!

Cole Endres is the director of personal training at Gold’s Gym in Springfield. He has a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and a master’s degree from Illinois State University. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), certified Sports Performance Coach (USAW), as well as a certified personal trainer. Contact him at 789-4653.

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