Shape Up With Siobhan: Strength Training Will Get You The Body You Want

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Advanced Fitness

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siobhan_sentry_headshot_1Strength training…. it’s not just for bodybuilders!

That ideal physique we all pine after, the toned or ripped look? I’ll let you in on a little trade secret, the key to getting it isn’t power walking or cycling the streets. The key to a new you lies in the weights room at your local gym.

As you’ll know from my last article I’m a big advocate of cardio for its health and wellness benefits, but when it comes to training for aesthetic reasons you need to train hard and heavy.

Some common myths of strength training:

“If I stop the muscle will turn into fat”

Ok, so you have a bag of sugar, if you don’t use it does it turn into salt? No, absolutely not! It’s the same with muscle and fat, they are two completely different components, both incapable of morphing into each other. People gain weight because they stop training and calories in through food becomes higher than calories out through exercise.

This one’s for the ladies….

“I don’t want to be like Arnold Schwarzenegger”

You won’t! Women don’t have enough testosterone in their bodies to gain excessive muscle mass without an extremely strict diet and an extremely specific training plan, even then most often they will need to use supplements to bulk up to bodybuilding size.

So ladies put down those 1 and 2 kg dumbbells and get over to that squat rack to get that booty you’ve always dreamed of.

“My focus is on sport. If I bulk up I’ll be slow on the field”

Strength training has massive benefits for athletes, becoming quicker off the mark, stronger in defence and increased stability to name a few.

However strength training for athletes is very different to strength training for aesthetic reasons. Every pound of muscle an athlete gains needs to be utilised on the field. The key to this is training functionally, mimicking movements that the body goes through during play, adding resistance to build strength while also introducing powerful explosive movements.

Now that we’ve set the record straight with some of the common myths, let’s look at the scientific benefits of strength training….

Strength training increases metabolism.

I’ve seen countless clients who have destroyed their metabolism through yoyo dieting, what I label “starvation diets” the cabbage soup and Special K diet fads as well as general poor eating habits.

Withholding from food for long periods of time sends your body into “starvation mode”. Following this, when you do refuel your body with food, your body will store that food as a protective measure in case you decide to starve it again.

It doesn’t realise that you are dieting, it thinks there is famine! This over time results in your metabolism slowing and your body storing fat rather than burning it.

If you think you fall into this category then give strength training a go. The science behind it is that the body expends more calories maintaining muscle within the body, so the more muscle mass you have the more calories you burn even when doing nothing.

Strength training increases bone density

Being stronger makes life easier, opening that heavy door or lifting the shopping bags the stronger you are the easier every day tasks are. As well as this, studies have proven that strength training helps prevent bone loss as people age.

When we reach the age of 70 it is said we will only have retained 50 – 55% of our muscle mass, it’s no wonder we feel weak and tired as we age, strength training helps prevent this.

Osteoporosis is a common ailment associated with the ageing process, the stronger your bones and supporting muscles around the bones are, the less likely you are to suffer from osteoporosis related bone fractures.

The moral of the story is whether your male, female, younger or older always eat clean and train heavy. You will be guaranteed to see the results you’ve been aiming for as well as get your body working more efficiently.

• Siobhan Sentry is Course Director with Advanced Fitness Education at Tralee Sports And Leisure Centre. She has eight years diverse industry experience. She has worked worldwide as a personal trainer and group exercise instructor and a top level wellness specialist designing and implementing health and wellness initiatives for multinational corporate companies. Advanced Fitness Education will hold an open day at the Ballyroe Heights Hotel on July 31 at 6.30 and 8pm. For more visit their website by clicking here

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