Strength Training for the Busy Person

By: Kristina Maxwell

If you read last month’s column, you learned about how to incorporate cardiovascular training into an already busy life. However, any well-rounded exercise program should also include some strength training. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines for exercise state that a comprehensive exercise program should include strength training a minimum of two days per week.

Strength is defined as the ability of contractile tissue (muscles) to produce tension and resultant force based on demands. Building strength is accomplished through resistance training. Resistance training is any form of exercise in which the contraction of a muscle is resisted by an outside force. Resistance training can be accomplished through body weight training (the outside force is gravity) or by using external objects as resistance (weights, exercise bands, machines, other people, etc).

The keys for successful strength training are as follows:

·         Specificity

o   Specificity means that the exercises performed should be directly related to achieving a goal. If you only do leg extensions in the gym, you will develop stronger quadriceps. However, just doing leg extensions don’t automatically increase your jump height. It’s important to think about what your goals are and train to achieve them.


·         Overload

o   The body responds to the demands that are put on it. In order to achieve larger and stronger muscles, muscles must be progressively overloaded. This means that when lifting weights, you should be notably challenged from the first repetition. The body is very good at “getting used to” a specific load and then gains with either plateau or decrease. This concept is called accommodation.  If you are able to do more than 10 repetitions of an exercise easily, it’s probably time to increase your resistance.


·         Individualization

o   The fitness industry makes millions per year with “fad” workouts. However, different people respond differently to the same imposed demand. All successful programs have the same underlying basic principles. If you are training specifically and progressively overloading your muscles and not seeing results you want, it might be time to try a different activity or program.

To find out more about how to achieve your rehabilitation goals, contact a health care professional at Align Wellness Studio.

Eamon Wilson