Strength is fundamental to movement. Without strength we wouldn’t be standing at all – or dancing, walking, jumping or swimming for that matter.
It’s integral for every body. As cardio vascular fitness keeps your heart healthy, so does strength ensure not only ensure good muscle tone, but also improved bone density (especially important for women who are at a higher risk of osteoporosis).
Who doesn’t want to feel like they can lift heavy things, easily carry out tasks (need some wood chopped anyone?) and basically take on the world. But there are many other benefits too…Did you know that strength training boosts your metabolism (great if you’re trying to lose weight)? It can also lessen injuries, help prevent falls and even improves your posture.
For people who spend longer periods of time in sedentary and seated poses, it is typical for the posterior chain – basically the back of the body – to be weaker. Weak upper backs mean the shoulders slump forward more and can often be connected with forward head posture too, all with the potential to lead to upper back, shoulder and neck pain. It is also common for the glutes to be underactive. This basically means they’re not firing effectively… aka lazy butt syndrome (posh name is Dormant Bottom Syndrome). Basically, getting a stronger bum and back is not only going to feel and look great, but it will help your posture and prevent injury and pain elsewhere.
In classes such as barre and Pilates there is a real focus on strengthening the smaller, stabilising muscles in a balanced way looking equally at the front and back of the body, and the deeper ‘core’ muscles as well as the balance between left and right (we’ve all got a strong side!). The more balanced your body is, the better it will work, and the better it will feel.
Strength is also key in our yoga classes. Many people think of yoga as being more focussed on flexibility but it’s equally about strength – as you develop more flexible muscles, it’s imperative to build strength and stability at the same rate to support the more mobile joints.
Weights are great! We often add weights, resistance bands and other small props (Magic circle anyone? IYKYK!) to classes but you can also work on strength just using body weight. Squats, lunges, push ups an and planks all build strength. You can start without weights and add them later, increasing the load as you progress. It’s great to vary the moves, the challenge and the resistance.
In short, adding strength is of value for everyone – for muscle strength, tank tops, cute butts but also for stronger bones, reduced chance of osteoporoses, better balance, better posture, fewer falls, improved confidence (especially in aforementioned tank top), fewer injuries, less pain and more quality of life. So what are you waiting for?