Are You Strong Enough?

By: Dr. Uche Odiatu, Jun 22, 2016

Most Canadians who exercise don’t do any strength training. Here’s why you should.

Your body is an incredible machine that was built to last – but you’ve got to start strength training.

That’s right. Those dumbbells and barbells in the gym are not just for the bodybuilders on the beach! Researchers at Tufts University have shown that people in their 70s, 80s and 90s have benefited from safe and effective strength training in many ways, especially in improving their balance and motor skills. Does this sound exciting to you? I feel like shouting these facts with a megaphone in the street!

Ten benefits of regular strength training

Need a reason to start strength training today? Here’s a look at 10 of the many benefits that come with strength training:

1. Improved posture
2. Decreased risk of osteoporosis
3. Increased metabolism and fat loss
4. Reduced resting blood pressure
5. Improved self-image
6. Improved sense of self-efficacy
7. Increased functional and structural integrity of ligaments and tendons
8. Decreased risk of diabetes
9. Ability to live independently for longer
10. Improvements in blood lipid profiles

Sadly, most Canadian adults do not participate in any strength training programs. Inaccurate information and myths have resulted in many people never enjoying the benefits of resistance-training. The most popular activities are aerobic in nature: walking, running, cycling and dance classes. These are excellent activities for maintaining cardiovascular health and fitness, but they do not contribute in a significant way toward maintaining or building muscle mass. The best exercise program for you combines aerobic activity, flexibility and strength-training exercises.

Did you know there are 168 hours in the week and studies show that the average Canadian watches five hours of television per day? Participating in a resistance-training program does not have to take up a lot of time. Two or three weekly workouts of 20-30 minutes can bring you closer to your muscular strength and conditioning goals and help you slow down or even reverse the aging process.

A sample program

There are hundreds of different strength training exercises and combinations you can do. Choosing the right one can be very confusing. A certified trainer can assist you in getting the right prescription for you.

Here’s a sample of a good beginner program. Remember: always begin any resistance training workout with a ten-minute warm-up. That could include, for example, stationary biking and light stretching.

* Leg press machine: two sets of 10-12 repetitions
* Leg curl machine: two sets of 10-12 repetitions
* Bench press: two sets of 10-12 repetitions
* One-arm dumbbell rowing: two sets of 10-12 repetitions
* Seated dumbbell press: two sets of 10-12 repetitions
* Barbell curls: two sets of 10-12 repetitions
* Triceps pressdown (machine): two sets of 10-12 repetitions
* Crunches (abdominals): three sets to failure (when your muscles start to give out)

Follow this with a cool down and some light stretching.

Guidelines for strength training

Learning new strength exercises with one’s body weight may be enough to start. Over time you can progress to resistance bands and then free-weights and/or machines. Be sure to get your physician’s approval before starting any new program. Finally, follow these guidelines to get the most out of your workout:

1. Always do a warm-up
2. Use control when picking up or replacing weights
3. Never hold your breath while lifting
4. Use proper technique
5. Use controlled movements
6. Increase the training load progressively
7. Combine with sound nutrition for best results

Dr. Uche Odiatu, BA, DMD, is an NSCA and Can Fit Pro certified personal trainer and, along with his wife Kary Odiatu, a celebrated international speaker. Uche is also a lifelong athlete, a certified holistic lifestyle coach, a professional member of the American College of Sports Medicine and a practicing dentist. Uche and Kary are the authors of The Miracle of Health: Simple Solutions. Extraordinary Results. To learn more, visit