Strength Training Improves Body and Mind

2aaBy Ronnie Gonzalez

Strength and weight training improve fitness, physique and frame of mind.

Strength training is physical exercise that uses resistance, such as weights and bands, to induce muscular contractions to build strength, aerobic endurance and increase bone and muscle mass.

“Whether you yank on suspension bands, pull stretchy rubber tubes, heft a bulbous low-tech kettlebell or pump traditional free weights, you’re moving your muscles against resistance,” according to a 2011 report by the American College of Sports Medicine, an exercise science organization. “That’s what burns calories while building healthy and attractive lean muscle tissue. Both lead to weight loss, a firm physique and other benefits.”

Strength training is a growing trend according to the annual survey by the American College of Sports Medicine. It ranks No. 2 among the most popular trends for 2012, according to the poll of 2,620 fitness professionals including certified trainers and exercise physiologists. The trend is increasing; it’s up from No. 6 in 2007.

Former CSN student Gabriel Herrera started powerlifting recently. Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three types of lifts including squat, bench press and deadlift. The effects of Herrera’s hard work at his home gym have paid off. Once he was close to being anorexic; strength training helped him put on 60 pounds of solid muscle and get healthy.


“It’s kind of a euphoric state to be honest,” Herrera said. “Once you touch that bar it’s just you and that weight like nothing else exists. The music can be blasting 100 percent in your ears. People can be laughing and they all just disappear.”

There’s new evidence that strength and resistance training can have other benefits as well.

According to Mayo Clinic, a non-profit medical practice and research group, strength training has many positive effects: weight loss, weight management, improvement in chronic conditions, development of bone structure and improved cognitive functions.

Harvard Medical School’s report titled “Strength Training Builds More than Muscles” reiterated the point on bone strength. Those that lift tend to have stronger and denser bones and can ward off diseases like osteoporosis. An estimated 10 million people in the United States have osteoporosis and strength training might be an answer to that problem.

Additionally strength training can improve emotional health.

According to the American Council on Exercise, women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men. Strength training releases dopamine and serotonin. Those chemicals in the body can help people have a sense of well-being. Working out can do that.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 20 percent of college-aged women work out weekly as suggested by the CDC.

To improve this statistic many gyms including CSN Sports Center are offering classes to get women moving. Additionally the sports program at CSN requires athletes to improve conditioning and strength.

“Guys are closer to their potential strength-wise than women are,” said Dexter Irvin, CSN’s athletic director. “Generally speaking [women] don’t start off physically as strong as guys do. [When they strength train] you see the gains and they are just phenomenal.”

Melissa Velasquez, a physical therapist in a medical office, suggests some tips for strength training: squats, deadlifts, isolating muscles with certain exercises and resistance-band training. She encourages her patients to increase their abilities in every session. “Come on, give a little bit more. Give me five more, give me 20 more. You got this.”

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