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Is Strength Training Important?
By Dr. Michael Bilof

Is Strength training important? In a word—yes! By the way, strength training is important for everyone, regardless of gender… in other words it’s not just for guys. At Garden State Bariatrics in New Jersey, we often advise patients to add strength training to their weight loss and wellness plan.

Why is Strength Training Important?

Imagine for a moment you are fortunate enough to live to 90 years of age. Here is something you will NEVER say “I wish I had less muscle mass”. Think of people you know in their 70’s and 80’s, and chances are that most of them have too little muscle mass. Unfortunately, a lack of muscle mass can contribute to a shorter and lower quality life.

Strength Train for a Longer and Better Life

Your muscle mass affects how long you live and also how well you live. If you want to be vital and healthy into your 70’s or 80’s you will need more muscle mass and that comes primarily from strength training. While it is certainly possible to begin a program of strength training in your 70’s and 80’s and see some benefit, it’s much better and more effective to start earlier.

How to Start Strength Training

Hopefully you are feeling inspired to add strength training to your life. Here are a few key words of advice when starting strength training:

  • Start Slow.
  • Work Hard.

Now I realize those two things sound contradictory, so let me explain:

Why start slow with strength training?
Because of all the things folks do to improve their fitness, the one that is the most likely to result in injury is weight and strength training. I often joke with patients, there is no downside to exercise …as long as you don’t hurt yourself! If you are not currently doing any strength training, a couple of sessions with a qualified and experienced trainer is a worthwhile investment. A trainer can show you effective exercises for building muscle mass and—most importantly—how to do the exercises properly to avoid injury.

Work hard to get the most out of your strength training.
Hopefully this one is a little more self-explanatory. Most people have heard “no pain/no gain”. There is some truth to this.. now I don’t want patients so sore after a workout that they can’t move for a week! On the other hand, if you don’t have any soreness you may not be working hard enough to truly build muscle mass. Again, working with a trainer can help you differentiate between regular post-exercise soreness and the type of pain that leads to injury.

How Much Muscle Mass Do I Have and How Much Do I Need?

One question patients may have is “how much muscle mass do I have?” This is a good question and again, and one worth exploring more. There are several tests that can be done to calculate body composition, which is your percent of muscle mass and percent of body fat. Stay tuned as we dive into this topic in next month’s blog post!