Sara asked, "So what is strength training? When I think of strength training I think of big guys with big barbells and they're (she makes a big sound like a person lifting something heavy) and then they come crashing to the floor and I can't do that."
In a recent podcast interview with Sara Hart, Ph. D., of Prime Spark, I was asked,“What is strength training from your perspective?" I responded that I advocate functional strength training which is using weights or other resistance to strengthen muscles to help you move well in your daily life. How you want to move determines the intensity…from people who want to be strong for rigorous activities like hiking up mountains or running marathons to people whose main goal is to function well and perform daily tasks with ease into their 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
How about just getting stronger to carry things? Or get up and down from the floor easily (without instructions).
We talked about functional fitness on the podcast, how it has a focus on basic exercises to strengthen muscles that are prime movers, those in your back, your chest, your core, your glutes (in your buttock) and thighs. These are muscles used for all major movements such as walking, sitting, standing, lifting, pushing, pulling. A good program also includes exercises for the entire body including range of motion to improve joint mobility. Traditional, heavy weight-lifting requires long rest periods between workout sets to allow muscles to recover before the next set. In functional fitness, where lighter weights are involved, the rest periods are shorter and strength exercises might be done in a timed set with little rest between so when combine with some high intensity cardio, like jumping jacks or mountain climbers, a set of exercises can make your heart rate go up during the workout building cardiovascular endurance, as well. Add agility and balance movements that require moving quickly and holding balance positions and you have an all-around fitness program that, in my opinion, can’t be beat!
Sara remarked, "For the first time I've actually understood what functional fitness means... so I do these functional (exercises) . . . not to get bulky and strong, I'm doing them so I can function … and live a happier, more independent, more fulfilled life." It was a great conversation.
Here's a great example of the benefits of functional fitness exercises, carrying nearly 20 pounds of groceries in each hand easily.
See the video below of a Farmer's Carry, here with 25 pound weights in each hand, an exercise that looks awfully similar! The exercise, according to Healthline, ". . .provides a full body workout, targeting the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, erectors, upper back, traps, lats, abs, biceps, triceps, forearms, and hand muscles." That's a functional exercise!
While lifting weights can help you get big and strong, it can also whittle away body fat as you build muscle. For inspiration, follow Joan MacDonald. Train with Joan on Instagram. She started at age 70, now she's 75. She might inspire you to pump some iron!