Strength Training for Overall Health

Erik McMillin, personal trainer at the Riverside Health Fitness Center
Erik McMillin, personal trainer at the Riverside Health Fitness Center.

When it comes to “fitness,” there are so many different types of workouts in which one can participate. Cardio activities like walking, running, or cycling have extensive health benefits. Yet, strength training cannot be underestimated for its full-body effects.

Erik McMillin, personal trainer at the Riverside Health Fitness Center, says the best types of strength training include three key factors: safety, effectiveness, and enjoyment.

“Safety should always be the first priority. As a trainer, my goal is to reduce injuries and make sure my clients are properly performing each of the exercises with the right technique. The exercises must also be effective as well. There needs to be a muscle stimulation in order to gain muscle size, strength, and endurance,” he states.

Without that stimulation, you might technically be “working out” but still not achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself. Of course, the enjoyment factor is pretty important too. This makes it much easier for individuals to stick to their workouts.

“If every workout was dreadful, no one would ever want to work out. Keeping things fun leads to consistency, and overall consistency leads to healthier lives and helps you achieve your goals a bit faster,” adds McMillin.

Health Benefits of Strength Training

Aside from the physical transformation, strength training also works to boost the body’s metabolism. Simply having more muscle mass allows you to burn more calories throughout the day. It also improves heart health by lowering cholesterol and maximizing blood circulation. For aging adults, strength training is really important for improving mobility and flexibility—and thereby reducing risk of falls.

Finally, it can improve your overall self-confidence and boost your mood. “It’s the craziest thing, after a long workday, I know I still have to do my hour-long workout. But, most of the times after that hour-long workout, I feel I have more energy than when I was going into it,” shares McMillin.

What is strength training not going to do? Make you look big and “bulky.” Although this is a common myth, it takes years of training to achieve a bodybuilder physique. In the past, many bodybuilders also used performance-enhancing drugs to bulk up. The typical strength training workout really just helps individuals with the benefits mentioned above.

Getting Started

Many people who aren’t familiar with strength training—and even some who are—can get to their goals faster by enlisting the help of a personal trainer. This also helps with the safety and effectiveness components McMillin adheres to. You don’t want to start off too heavy and injure yourself. Or, alternatively, start out too light and limit progress.

“Personal trainers are going to be with you throughout the workout, one on one. They’ll provide you with the proper technique and go over little tips and tricks you might not know. They’re also going to make sure you’re not lifting too heavy, but also that you’re not lifting too light and that you’re pushing yourself. They’re a good accountability partner for you,” notes McMillin. “And, they’re going to program workouts that are specific to you and your goals.”

For anyone interested in learning more about strength training, the Riverside Fitness Center offers free exercise orientations to all its members. During the exercise orientation, a coach shows individuals how to properly work the exercise machines and how to use free weights. “From there, you can start with a personal trainer and start working towards your health and fitness goals.”