The Importance of Exercise Recovery: Step 1 Strength Training

 

Last week I wrote an article on exercise recovery and mentioned that within the body there is a constant play of stability and mobility. Certain areas in our body function best when strong and stable and other areas of the body function best with more range of motion. I also briefly explored how six practices can help your body recover from exercise. Each week I will explore the six in more detail. 

The first practice I list is strength training, which at first may seem like a funny activity to put in a list about ways to recover from exercise. And while strength training doesn’t directly help our bodies recover from bouts of exercise, what it does do is far more important. Strength training lays the foundation to building a highly functional body. In the end this helps your body perform optimally so that it eases the demands on the body when you exercise, so less recovery is needed.

Strength training develops better force-couple relationships, which in turn creates a healthy balance within the body. Force-couple refers to the dynamic play of two opposing muscle groups, especially around a joint. For an example: say your quadriceps (front of thigh muscles) are super tight and strong, and yet your hamstrings (back of thigh muscles) are really weak and deactivated. The quads pull on your knee joint, but your hamstrings don’t, which creates an incorrect torquing on that joint, leading to dysfunction and eventually pain. All muscles need to work in unison to produce desired movement so our bodies can work optimally.

Other Amazing Strength Training Benefits:

  • Increases in muscle mass increase metabolism, meaning our bodies are able to burn more calories at rest. Studies show that those who strength train 2-3 times a week burn more body fat than people who don’t. As your lean muscle increases, your body has a better chance of reducing its fat stores.
  • Increases bone density and enhances bone modelling which decreases the risk of osteoporosis. This, coupled with an adequate amount of dietary calcium, can be the best defence against osteoporosis.
  • Increases your ability to function throughout the day. Strength training makes you stronger, which helps you function better when performing chores and carrying kids. It makes routine tasks much easier and far less fatiguing. So it increases energy!
  • Decreases chance of injury and pain. Strength training builds stronger connective tissues (the tissues around joints), and in turn increases joint stability. This acts as reinforcement for the joints and helps prevent injury. In addition, increasing strength in the glutes (butt check muscles), abdominals, and spinal erectors can help eliminate or alleviate low-back and knee pain.
  • Weight training improves cardiovascular health, including lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Because strength training increases lean muscle mass, it gives your cardiovascular system (your heart, lungs, and the transport system of blood: the arteries and veins) places to send the blood being pumped. This results in less pressure on your arteries, which helps reduce the chances of heart-related problems. When cardiovascular exercise is added, these benefits are maximized.
  • Reduces the risk of diabetes, because weight training can improve the way the body processes sugar.

There are many different methods to strength train, and each one has great science and skill to it.

To keep it simple for this article: you can lift heavy for low reps to gain more overall strength or lift lighter for more reps to induce hypertrophy (build muscle).

I love all methods of strength training and all can be beneficial. 

  • Pilates Reformer sessions provide constant spring loaded resistance, which works the "negative contraction". Helpful to work the small, stabilizing muscles in the body, as well as the powerhouse core muscles. Reformer exercises help to re-balance the body by lengthening and strengthening at the same time. 
  • My system of barre is different than regular barre. I add functional strength training into my programs to create long, lean, and balanced bodies from the inside out. My Barre Bursts and Strong classes combine strength training, standing Pilates-inspired movements, plus traditional barre and Pilates movements to create a system that eases joint pain, builds muscle and strength, and creates balance between mobility and stability in the correct areas in your bodies.
  • A solid strength training program that is intelligently designed is also a great option. Try the small group training Strength Circuit classes for get instructed on proper technique and form and to build every single muscle in your body. 
  • IST Bands and Gliders classes are a fun way to boost metabolism focusing on getting your heart rate up as well as using resistance bands and bodyweight to challenge your muscles. 

Strength training and building a strong foundation is the first step to making sure you recover from your workouts safely and functionally.

As a bonus, I have attached the first week workout from my streamed online 8-week Functional Barre HIIT program. Try it out and let me know what you think! Enjoy!

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