A lot has been written about the benefits of cardiovascular aerobic training. Until recently, however, little attention has been given to strength training which is an important component of a balanced fitness program is. Part of the problem is that strength training has been equated with bodybuilding. However, you do not need to be a body builder to benefit from strength training. A well designed strength-training program can provide the following benefits:

* Strength of bones increases.
* Muscles and connective tissue strengthens (ie. the tendons and ligaments), decreasing the risk of injury.
* Increased muscle mass. Most adults lose about one-half pound of muscle per year after the age of 20 due to decreased activity. Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (the basal metabolic rate or BMR). As muscle mass increases, BMR increases. This makes it easier to maintain a healthy body weight.
* Enhanced quality of life. As general strength increases, the effort required to perform daily routines such as carrying groceries or working in the garden will be less demanding.

Here are exercises to work all the major muscle groups. If you neglect certain groups, it can lead to strength imbalances and poor posture. A fitness professional can help you to learn
safe techniques to do each of these exercises, so you should consult one before beginning a strength training program. One set of 8-12 repetitions, working the muscle to the point offatigue, is usually sufficient. Breathe normally throughout the exercise. Lower the resistancewith a slow, controlled cadence throughout the full range of motion. Lifting the weight to a
count of two and lowering it to a count of three or four is effective. When you are able to perform 12 repetitions of an exercise correctly (without cheating), increase the amount of resistance by 5 percent to 10 percent to continue safe progress.

* Leg Press – quadriceps, gluteals
* Leg Curl – hamstrings
* Chest Press – pectorals
* Lat Pull Down – latissimus dorsi
* Lateral Raise – deltoid
* Triceps Press – triceps
* Biceps Curl – biceps
* Curl-up – abdominals
* Back Extension – erector spinae

Staying Motivated

An encouraging aspect of strength training is the fact that you’ll likely experience rapid improvements in strength and muscle tone right from the start of your program. Don’t be discouraged, however, if visible improvements begin to taper off after a few weeks. It’s onlynatural that, as your fitness level improves, improvements in strength and appearance will
follow at a slightly slower pace. To help keep your motivation up, find a partner to train with you.

Aim to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, with a minimum of two days of rest between workouts. Training more frequently or adding more sets may lead to slightly greater gains, but the small added benefit may not be worth the extra time and effort or the added risk of injury.

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