It’s that time of year again, where we take the New Year by the proverbial horns and start discussing our resolutions.
Some of us will reflect on the year that was, while others will be looking to the future. We will set projects, talk about mantras, and one or two of us may even think about whipping our bodies back into shape.
For those who are committed to shredding, Surgical, Treatment and Rehabilitation Service (STARS) Senior Physiotherapist Cheryl Costello said a strength training regime was the key to overall health and performance.
“If your New Year’s Resolution is to increase or improve your fitness, strength training is a great place to start,” Ms Costello said.
“Regular strength or resistance training is very low risk, especially if guided by a health or fitness industry professional.
“Increasing your strength improves your health at a cellular, metabolic, cardiovascular and neurological level by increasing your energy levels and improving your sleep, as well as reducing inflammation, stress and illness.
“Increased strength also gives you greater power, balance, agility, speed, endurance, and flexibility.”
Ms Costello said strength training relied on the principle of progressive overload, which was a steady increase in training stress.
“To continue to get stronger, we must continue to increase the exertion of the exercises we do,” she said.
“Increasing exertion could mean you increase the weight, but it could also mean you maintain the weight and up the number of repetitions or sets during the workout.
“At the end of the day, it is about finding what works for you, but also what challenges you. Listen to what your body is telling you on the day and adjust accordingly.”
Ms Costello said it was common for people to experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after strength training, particularly if they were new to the exercise.
“DOMS is a type of muscle strain injury resulting from applying too much training stress,” she said.
“DOMS usually has a pain-free period of 12 to 24 hours and then the muscle soreness peaks between 24 to 72 hours. The delay is due to an increase in inflammation at that time.
“When you are not used to strength training, it might not take much to cause DOMS. You will probably feel pain in places you didn’t think you could!
“DOMS will get better on its own after a few days – sometimes a week. But there are a number of ways you can help in the recovery during this uncomfortable period.”
Check out this list of scientifically supported ways to reduce DOMS:
- Massage (early after exercise)
- Contrast Bathing (hot/cold bathing)
- Gentle Exercise
- Vibration Platform
- Compression garments
- Anti-inflammatories (speak to your pharmacist)
Anyone with a medical condition should always speak to their trusted GP or health professional prior to starting strength training.