Weight Training Facts – Good and not so Good. Check out any health or fitness related website, magazine, and TV infographics these days, and the experts who recommend you use strength training to be part of any fitness or weight loss program. There will be no doubt. And for good reason. The benefits of being fit and losing weight are many and the results are long-lasting.
More often than not exercise programs that include resistance training that would suggest using weight equipment such as dumbbells and barbells, but there are other equipment and methods for strength training such as resistance bands and Bodyweight training.
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What you may not be able to accomplish, however, is that there is often a potential risk of weight training. Injuries can occur in any activity that involves physical exertion. Let’s take a look at some of the good things about weight training, as well as some potential side effects, and when you really need some medical advice.
There are many reasons to use strength training as a method to improve your health and body conditioning. A few are:
- Increased body metabolism
- Improved bone strength and density
- Body toning
- Increased lean body mass
- Better balance and co-ordination
And, apart from the more obvious, visible results, such as weight loss and a toned body-shape, strength training has other important benefits that are more subtle.
A strong training core muscle improve your balance for better athletic performance and reduces the risk of common aches and pains such as bruises and lower back pain. Training the body to be ‘balance conditioned’ allows you to make better use of the strength you already have. Having this stability means you can move more efficiently, meaning you are at less risk of injury.
As mentioned previously, strength training using weights can cause injuries, especially when done incorrectly. Most common amongst these are strains, sprains, tears, pulls and fractures. These injuries can occur immediately during a particular exercise or over time, especially if an exercise or movement is performed repeatedly in poor shape.
Is it a Sprain, or a Strain?
Strains are more usually associated with muscles and tendons (fibrous cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones). A strain occurs when the muscle is stretched. Strains are more common in the lower back area or the hamstring muscle in the back of your thigh.
Strains can happen any time; they can either appear suddenly in the form of an acute strain, caused perhaps by a recent injury or incorrect posture when lifting a heavy object, or be more chronic in nature, caused by muscles and tendons being repetitively moved in the same way for a long period of time.
A sprain is when a ligament is overextended or torn while severely stressing a joint. If it’s bad enough, sometimes a ‘popping’ noise is heard when this happens. Almost any joint in the body can be damaged.
Some of the most common are the ankle, (stumbling over an uneven surface), the knee (when pivoting during exercise), the wrist (breaking a fall), and thumb.
There are many different reasons why injuries may occur, but the most common culprits are using poor form, incorrect technique, and overuse. Always taking the time to learn the correct form and technique prior to any exercise, and always remember to tailor it to your age and ability if needed.
Is it time to see my doctor?
Pain is definitely not something you should experience during training. Pain is the way your body is informing you that something’s wrong. Don’t ignore it. Take steps to address this by either reducing the amount of weight you are using or to reduce the frequency of the exercise. Better still, stop completely for a few days and see if your body recovers. Then gently ease back into training.
Always remember that getting fit, losing weight, and getting that physique you want is a process – and it takes time to reach those goals, safely and steadily.