If your goals are sport-specific, general health and wellness, or rehabilitation and recovery, Strength and Conditioning training will be a familiar term for you. The phrase “strength and conditioning” may seem simple and straight forward but is more complex in theory and practicality. The primary reason for every strength and conditioning component is stability, balance and ultimately injury prevention while the benefits and focus of strength and conditioning in a sports program is improved sport-specific performance.
Specificity is a choice of exercise that correlates directly to a desired movement for improved performance. Where typically applied to sports training, we can also apply this into everyday life as it pertains to the ability for the body to perform a function with improved efficiency. In other words, the ability for an older individual who has a history of needing assistance to get out of the bath tub can train for that specific task. After training, the individual will no longer need assistance as the functional work of their goal has become more efficient and therefore easier to accomplish.
Overloading a muscle requires taking the muscle group through increasing workloads to maintain adaptation. Without the increased workload the body will adapt to its current work volume, plateau, and potentially even regress. Regardless of the function being performed, increasing resistance, intensity or volume is required to maintain the consistent overload needed to improve performance.
It has long been known that everyone will benefit from strength training. Strength Training is so essential that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) along with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) have listed it as a part of their recommendations on quantity and quality of exercise to prevent chronic disease. Men and women both need strength training, but, how we train and how our bodies respond to training are slightly different.
According to ACSMs physical activity recommendations for healthy adults, men and women need no less than 150 hours a week (roughly 30 minutes a day, 5 days/week) of vigorous activity to remain healthy and prevent disease, with 2-3 days a week consisting of resistance training with 8 to 12 repetitions per exercise. Strength Training, also known as Resistance Training, Weight Training or Strength & Conditioning, is a form of physical activity that is designed to improve overall muscular fitness by exercising a muscle or a muscle group against external resistance.
When I recommend that women participate in strength training, I always hear the same comment; “I don’t want to gain too much muscle and get bulky.” This is understandable, but there is a difference between Hypertrophic Body Building and a solid strength and conditioning program. Men have higher levels of the anabolic testosterone than women, the human growth hormone responsible for muscular hypertrophy. Regardless, pound for pound of lean tissue, women can see linear improvements in muscular strength than their male counterparts.
It is hard for my young female athletes and clients to envision themselves as their elder counterparts, let alone the need to plan for potential future age-related issues. Sarcopenia, which is defined as a loss in muscle mass due to aging, and osteoporosis, which is a loss in bone mineral density over time can both be reduced or reversed by lifting heavy weights. Hypertension, which is an persistent elevation in blood pressure can also be remedied by consistent strength training. Weight loss is also possible and more probable with resistance training.
I have heard women say that they “will lift weights after they have burned the fat off.” Lean tissue increase facilitates a loss in body fat by boosting metabolic tissue in the body. As muscle size and density increases, it uses more energy, therefore resting metabolism is higher. A higher metabolism also means a lower risk for diabetes and metabolic disease. This makes strength training an essential part of weight management.
Overall functional capacity improves, which means the ability to do daily tasks increases with less effort. This is specific and beneficial to everyone, from children to elderly to elite athletes. Simple tasks that most people take for granted such as getting off of the floor or washing dishes becomes more possible as strength and flexibility are improved. Athletic performance and sport specific abilities can improve as power output, agility and endurance are all increased. Reduced risk of injury, back pain & arthritis, along with improved energy, circulation, coordination, balance, bone and ligament strength are also seen throughout all ages as proper muscle strength and conditioning is maintained.
Improving muscular fitness is essential for women in all stages of life. Strength training programs should be simple and focused to be effective and enjoyable. For the safest, most effective program, you should contact our certified fitness professionals. At Carolina Gold Fitness, we create custom, safe and effective strength and conditioning programs to help improve health, fitness and performance. We offer free fitness and wellness consultations to help you find the best fit for you individual needs. Contact us at 828.209.8776 and we can set you up for long term success.