How strong are you?

How strong are you?

Beneficial for both men and women, strength training has several avatars today. Neeraj Mehta explains how various forms of workout can be adapted to strength training

 

The more you increase the tension on your muscles, the stronger you become. Therefore, the use of muscles is equal to strengthening of muscles. 

There are two ways to see strength in human body: muscular endurance and muscular strength. Muscular endurance is the ability to hold a particular position for a sustained period of time or repeat a movement many times.

This could be the capability required to hold a two-pound weight above your head for five minutes or the effort required to lift that weight, twenty consecutive times. 

Muscular strength, on the other hand, is the ability to exert maximum force, such as lifting the heaviest weight you can budge, at one time.

It is possible to have muscular strength in one area, say your arms, while lacking strength in your legs.

Strength training is an important part of most fitness programmes. During strength training, tension is applied on a particular muscle, or a group of muscles, against weighted loads.

This results in muscular contraction, which builds strength and endurance in the muscle. Strength training is generally done to reduce body fat, increase lean muscle mass and burn calories more efficiently.

It has been proven beneficial for both, men as well as women. One can do different forms of strength training exercises, with little or no equipment, like pushups, pullups, abdominal crunches and leg squats. 

Benefits of such training include increased bone, muscle, tendon and ligament strength and toughness. 

It also improves joint function, reduces potential for injury, increases bone density, ups metabolism, improves cardiac function and elevates HDL ("good") cholesterol.

During strength training, the muscles are known to contract in four ways

* Eccentric Contraction – muscle contracts as its fibres lengthen
*  Concentric Contraction – muscle contracts as its fibres shorten
*  Plyometric Contraction – muscle contracts following a quick pre-stretch
*Isometric Contraction – muscle contracts maintaining a constant length
Most people implement strength training as a part of their workout regime, but certain workouts lend themselves especially well for strength training:

Bodyweight training If one aims to increase strength and coordination in functional movements - and become fit - they should be doing exercises against the body weight, like push-ups, chin-ups, squats, planks, squats, lunges, sit-ups and the like.
High-intensity training

High-intensity training is one of the ways to increase strength. For example, simply increasing the intensity of a cardiovascular workout could strengthen the core muscles of your body. 
Other workouts, wherein high-intensity training can be used to increase strength are kick-boxing, MMA, hit ‘n’ fit, cross fit, interval training, and the like.

SteelFlexx

SteelFlexx is an extreme stretching routine that can notch-up your flexibility. It is an incorporation of yoga dynamic and static stretching with the use of dumbbells and other props, to stretch the specific area to an extreme level.

It is a flexibility training, with an emphasis on biomechanics (movements friendly with the joints and connective tissues of the body), body postures and breathing. SteelFlexx gives benefits of all four types of muscle contraction, so one can isolate muscle from different angles, leading to fast results.

Pilates

Pilates is a body conditioning routine that helps in building flexibility, endurance in the legs, abdominals, hips, muscle strength, arms and back. It concentrates on breathing, core strength, coordination, balance, as well as spinal and pelvic alignment. Pilates' system allows for diverse workouts to be modified. Intensity can be increased, over time, as the body conditions and adapts itself to the exercises.
Power Yoga

People are generally under the impression that yoga is a slow process, but power yoga, as its name suggests, is powerful in terms of resulting in the required strength and flexibility. 
Power yoga consists of extreme level of stretches for your muscles. It’s a combination of functional and flexibility training, with an emphasis on strength, flexibility and body balance.

Weight-lifting

Strength training does not need to have weight-lifting as a compulsory part of it. However, one can increase their muscle strength by adding weights to exercise, and do as many repetitions as possible. 

Bodybuilders use weight training to develop their muscles for size, shape, and symmetry regardless of any increase in strength. They train to maximise their muscular size and develop extremely low levels of body fat. 

In contrast, manyweight-trainers train in weight-lifting to improve their strength and anaerobic endurance while not giving special attention to reducing body fat to below normal levels.
(The writer is a fitness professional, nutritionist and director, GFFI Fitness Academy, New Delhi)

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