As we continue through our 7th week of the squat cycle, I think that it’s important to answer one of the main questions associated with squatting and strength training, why do we strength train? I know many of you love the metabolic conditioning workouts that we do at Raleigh CrossFit, however strength training is an extremely important part of our training.
Strength training is a major component in increasing muscle mass, decreasing body fat, and increasing the amount of calories that you burn on a daily basis. As we all get older we naturally lose muscle mass, in order to prevent this, we must continue to maintain and enhance our current muscle mass in our body, this is done through strength training.
Additionally, individuals who have more muscle mass have a higher metabolic rate. Muscle is active tissue and consumes more calories, conversely, stored fat, uses very little energy. Strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in metabolic rate (both resting and while active), which is helpful not only for weight loss, but long term weight control.
However, strength training has benefits that go well beyond gaining muscle mass and metabolic efficiency. Strength training helps you improve your balance and coordination, as well as improve your posture. In addition to safety, this is one of the reasons that the coaching staff at RCF makes sure that you have the correct form on all of your movements. While balance and coordination may not seem quite as important to you while you are younger, as you age, this becomes increasing important in reducing your risk of falling. It is one of the reasons that the strength training is increasingly important as you age.
Strength training has many benefits for women as they age. Women can lose as much as 1-2% of their bone mass annually as they age. However by stressing your bones, strength training increases bone density and greatly reduces the risk of osteoporosis.
So, how do we strength train? One of the most effective ways is to squat. It is one of the most natural movements our bodies can perform. Sadly, one of the biggest myths that is out there concerning strength training is that squatting is bad for your joints. Let me tell you now, this is incorrect! In order to help you understand more about this I’m going to give a short anatomy lesson about your joints and how they work.
Although there are various types of joints throughout the body, all joints have the same basic anatomy and function. Joints connect one bone to another and give us to ability to bend and twist. Within the joint there is the connective tissue (the ligament) which serves as a bridge from one bone to another via your muscles. Also within your joints is cartilage. Cartilage is an elastic tissue that is the cushioning material in your joints. Its purpose is to serve as the shock absorber, preventing bones from grinding on other bones. Osteoarthritis is what appears when we start to lose the cartilage and ligaments within our joints. One of the most important ways to maintain cartilage and ligament strength is through strength training. Strength training helps to strengthen the muscles and ligaments that surround the joints, thus protecting them from damage. The muscles in the upper and lower leg stabilize the knee joint and absorb some of the stress that otherwise go through cartilage. This allows the muscles to absorb the pounding of daily life rather than the joint itself, protecting cartilage and the ligaments within.
These are just a few of the benefits to continued strength training throughout one’s life. Although you may love how you feel after a particularly taxing metabolic conditioning workout, it is important to know and understand that the benefits that you are receiving through strength training are equally important. If you have any questions or would like to know more about the benefits please ask one of the Raleigh CrossFit coaches and we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Center for Disease Prevention and Control