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The A-Z of strength training

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By strength training we mean using your muscles in a moderate or hard intensity during a shorter period of time. If you do that on a regular basis, your muscles become stronger and grow. A bigger muscle mass has a clear connection to better health. From the foods we eat, it is to the greater part our muscles that convert it to energy.

 

A big muscle mass costs a lot of energy to maintain, even when you are not training, and therefore our metabolism increases when we train hard. During rest and low intensity periods of effort it is our fat deposits that stand for our biggest energy source. If you keep your energy intake on a reasonable level your strength training will lead to bigger muscles and less fat. Maybe that’s why you often hear, sometimes wrongly, that strength training converts fat to muscles.

Strength training is important for everyone, but it is particularly important the older you get. The greatest factor to decreased muscle mass with increased age is that you in general are less active the older you get. The best way to maintain your muscle mass is to continue with, or start, strength training. If you are not physically active there is no reason for your body to maintain your muscle mass and it will gradually diminish. It is the same if you reduce your amount of strength training. Your muscle fibers will not get as many or as intense signals stimulating growth or to maintain your muscle mass. There is no reason for your body to carry muscles that consume energy and are high in maintenance.

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From unfit to fit - what happens?
When you are unfit and start strength training you will pretty quickly notice that you get stronger, even though you might not see any physical changes. This early stage strength training is foremost connected to signals from our brain to our nervous system. In order for a muscle to contract it needs a signal from our brain via our nervous system. For example, regular strength training will in turn lead to our brain sending more signals to our muscles, which means you develop greater strength.

Strength training makes your brain and nervous system become better at handling movements and workloads effectively. Parallel to these improvements inside our muscles there are some important changes taking place inside our muscles like increased muscle protein that in turn will lead to you being able to lift even heavier things and becoming more explosive.

Tips if you want to become stronger:

  • Make sure to expose your body to more than it is used to when strength training. You don't have to go to a gym to become stronger, you can make great improvements using your own body weight and functional training with f.ex. rubber bands.

  • Have patience! It takes a long time to build a big and strong body.

  • The weights don't lie. You are becoming stringer even if you can't see it in your muscles. It's never too late to become stronger!

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About the authors Jessica & Maria

Challengize health tips are written for us by Jessica Norrbom and Maria Ahlsén, both with PHDs in medicine. Since 2013 they run their own business Fortasana working mainly with diet, training and health from a scientific perspective. Maria and Jessica have written several books and regularly lecture focusing mainly on popular health myths and explain what is actually true from a scientific perspective when it comes to diets, trends and newspaper headlines.

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