When one thinks about getting a fit, toned body what comes to mind may be spending countless hours on the treadmill or track, since it’s said that cardio is the most effective way to burn fat and calories. But what one may not know is strength training is equally important.
“Strength training reduces body fat, increases lean muscle mass, helps develop strong bones and boosts stamina,” said Simeon Maxwell, 56th Force Support Squadron Fitness Center personal trainer.
As well as making the body stronger, strength training also helps one with accomplishing daily tasks, said Pernell Stoney, 56th FSS Fitness Center sports and fitness manager.
“Once you begin getting stronger, strength training helps with daily movements such as lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling,” he said. “That is why strength training is essential. It also prevents injury while lifting or walking.”
While strength training carries many benefits, there may be some people, generally women, who are afraid that lifting weights could result in a ‘bulkier’ figure, but according to Maxwell that is a myth.
“If one wants to bulk up, lift heavy weights doing four to six repetitions per set, this is known as power lifting,” he said. “On the other hand, using weight that can be lifted at 15 to 20 repetitions per set will help tone and sculpt the body. Women shouldn’t be afraid to lift since they do not have enough testosterone to bulk up.”
Strength training may be intimidating, but for beginners, Maxwell recommends starting on fixed weight equipment such as the Nautilus to develop strength and coordination before moving on to free weights.
For beginners, it may seem like strength training is just a matter of lifting, but there are some frequent errors that can be made while lifting.
“A few common mistakes made are lifting too much weight, not using the full range of motion, using weight that is too light, not working all the muscle groups, doing too many isolated exercises, using improper form and lastly not adding a slight pause in between reps,” he said.
As it’s important to make sure proper form is used while lifting, it’s just as essential to change up your workout, Maxwell said.
“Set goals, change your routine every four weeks, make the routines challenging, don’t rush through repetitions, and every now and then give your muscles time to heal,” he said. “Exercise is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, promoting fitness and staying in shape. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.”
For those who want to improve their strength there are classes available at Luke Air Force Base.
“We have a class called Warrior Fitness Training, which happens five days a week,” Stoney said. “There are six classes ranging from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information or to sign up call the Combat PT Center at (623) 856-2291.”