Strength Training 101

Eat right and lift heavy.

If there’s one constant thing we say across Nerd Fitness, it’s that if you want to lose weight, gain muscle, or just look better than ever for an upcoming event, the two things you must do is eat right and lift heavy.

But what exactly does that mean?

How do you get started?

Why does this work so darn well?

And what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow!?

We’ve touched on most of these things a few times before, gone over your diet, and shown you some people it’s worked for, but we haven’t really gone into great detail.

Today that changes.

This is the first in a series of articles from NF Team Member Staci, covering all things strength training. As for her credentials, she went from this to this thanks to heavy strength training:

Oh, and she can probably lift more than you. Here she is easily deadlifting 400+ lbs at bodyweight of 150 lbs:

Staci has been part of Nerd Fitness for the past 7 years, and is now the lead female trainer in our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program!

You might be reading this article, or on the hunt for strength training basic, and you’re overwhelmed:

  • Am I doing my squats right?
  • What kind of workout should I follow?
  • How often should I train?
  • What if I’ve never worked out in a gym before?

If you are doing this on your own, but are overwhelmed and confused about strength training, I know how that feels. It can be scary enough to keep MOST people from starting, which is actually why we created our 1-on-1 Coaching Program. Our coach gets to know you, builds a program based on your experience and goals, will check your form on each movement (via video), and keep you accountable and on track!

You can learn more about our coaches and schedule a free call with us by clicking the image below:

With that out of the way, let’s jump into the amazing world of Strength Training!!!

Why strength training?

Strongman

First of all, lets face it: Putting everything else aside, life is EASIER when you’re strong.  Carrying groceries? One trip. Children to carry? No problem. Car stuck in the snow? Push it out with ease.

Plus, whether you’re 100 lbs overweight or just need to lose the last 15, strength training is one of the most effective ways to burn fat and build muscle.

Lifting has been shown to halt and even reverse sarcopenia – the reduction of skeletal muscle that occurs as we get older  – which helps us stay independent (and out of a nursing home) and live longer.

But in addition to making life easier, strength training has a lot of great benefits right now.  Here are just a few:

Look Good Naked: Strength training helps you lose weight (and body fat) in a few different ways.  First, it helps you retain the muscle you have while eating a calorie deficit and losing weight.

Second, strength training has a much greater level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption than aerobic exercise.  What does this mean?  When you finish a workout, your body needs to do a lot of work to replenish itself in order to bring itself back to a normal state (the way it was before you worked out).  This takes a lot of energy, and some studies have shown that it can boost your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you finish your workout.

Not only that, but strength training can help increase your metabolism by speeding up your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).  This is because it takes your body more calories to maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat.  Estimates are that for every 1 lb of muscle you gain, your RMR goes up 30-50 calories!

Makes You Healthier: If you’re looking for a workout in which you get the biggest bang for your buck, strength training is it. Strength training increases bone density, builds a stronger heart, reduces your resting blood pressure, improves blood flow, halts muscle loss, helps control blood sugar, improves cholesterol levels, and improves your balance and coordination (turning you from this, to this).

You’ll Feel Better: Not only will you find yourself with more energy and confidence, less stress and anxiety, and a better overall mood, but you’ll actually begin to think better (resistance training has been proven to help increase cognitive function). And while training too close to bedtime can be a bad idea, exercising earlier in the day has been proven to help prevent sleep apnea and insomnia. I even improved my posture – when I started lifting, I was 5’4”.  Now I’m 5’5.5”.

Prevents disease and degenerative conditions: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women; Strength training helps correct issues relating to cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and inactivity – all factors for heart disease. Cardiologists are even starting to recommend strength training for people who have suffered a heart attack as little as three weeks after the attack. Who knows, maybe one day your cardiologist will tell you to do some “cardio” and he’ll be referring to strength training!

Strength training has also been proven to help manage and improve the quality of life for people with ArthritisOsteoporosisParkinson’s DiseaseDown SyndromeLymphedemafibromyalgiawho have recently had a strokehave had a spinal cord injurycancer survivorsand clinical depression.

In addition to ALL of the above, strength training is fun! Whether you are looking for the most effective 20-30 minute workout (to stay fit and look great naked), or are looking for a competitive sport that you can really get into, strength training can help you meet your goals. It’s easy and fun to see progress as you strength train, almost like leveling up. And if you’re looking to improve in other areas (a sport, traditional cardio, or an activity like rock climbing), strength training is an easy choice!

Ok, ok.  Enough already.  Is there anyone who SHOULDN’T strength train?

Honestly, I did a lot of research on this one, because I wanted to find a single group of people who should not strength train.  I even found studies on how strength training can be beneficial for paraplegics.  Not to mention it can be safe for children, adolescents, and pregnant women.  Obviously, you should take a break from strength training if you’re injured, and always check with your doctor before you start any sort of strength training program, but it’s natural for us, as humans, to move around and carry things.