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Workout Smart: Muscle and Strength

September 10, 2015 by Normand Richard, Certified Exercise Physiologist

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There is a lot of information available online and on social media regarding resistance training (activities that help strengthen your muscle) which is sometimes called weight lifting. But how do you know what is smart/true and what is silly/false? We’ve compiled some tried-and-true tips to make the most of your next training session:

  • According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, resistance training should be practiced by everyone. Two sessions per week will maintain strength, while more may be needed to get stronger. The saying “use or lose it” applies here as decreases in muscle mass and strength occur with advancing age.
  • If you’re new to resistance training, consult with a Qualified Exercise Professional to learn how to perform resistance exercises correctly so as to decrease your risk of injury.
  • Warm-up with 5-10 minutes of aerobic (cardio) exercise, begin with exercises that target large muscle groups (i.e., a squat) then progress to smaller muscle group exercises (i.e., a biceps curl) and your core!
  • You might have heard that there should be a rest day between sessions. The reason being that exercises may create mini tears in your muscles thus a ‘rest’ day in between allows the muscle tissue to rebuild and become stronger. This doesn’t mean you can’t lift on back-to-back days, simply alternate muscle groups (i.e., legs and back on one day and chest and arms on the other).
  • To step up your resistance training, or if you’re getting ready for a sporting season (i.e., soccer) consider periodization. Periodization is when you vary how much time you spend training (the volume) and how hard you train (the intensity) while working towards a goal/competition. A good analogy of periodization is preparing for an exam. You start by covering the basic principles of the subject (volume) then dive into the specific details (intensity).
  • There are many different types of resistances, such as:
    • Your own body weight (allows you to workout anywhere and anytime; think sit-ups and push-ups!)
    • Weight machines (provide more control making them good for beginners)
    • Free weights such as dumbbells, barbells and kettle bells (require more coordination making them good for advanced lifters)
    • Elastic exercise bands (travel well and offer resistance on both the contraction/relaxation phases)
    • Suspension training using ropes and webbing (provide the ultimate challenge!)
    • Your job (if do you do physical labour such as heavy lifting!)
    • Gardening and yard work (pulling out weeds makes for ultimate productivity)

Resistance training can be done by everyone, no matter age or ability level. Live long be strong!


Related blogs

Weight Lifting and Strengthening Advice for Men
Workout Smart: Core Strength

Recommended resources

HealthLinkBC: Healthy Muscles
SportsMedBC: Different Strength For Different Seasons

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