Strength exercises, which can be performed using special equipment or free weights, boost strength and muscle power. The activity should not be too vigorous or strenuous, unless you are working towards specific objectives. If you train in accordance with the guidelines provided by the American College of Sport Medicine, the advantages will become evident very quickly.
Strength exercises increase muscle efficiency, ensuring they are capable of supporting substantial loads. Plus, you may not be aware that increasing muscle mass – even slightly – helps to control body fat.
The ideal regime combines strength training with aerobic exercise sessions. Combining these two activities produces truly phenomenal results.
Besides its advantages in terms of body composition and fat control, strength also encourages joint mobility and – most importantly – makes everyday life easier. In fact, by training regularly, you would become capable of carrying more heavy loads, thereby reducing perceived effort during the most common activities.
In short, the things that seemed too ‘heavy’ before gaining strength would no longer pose such a problem.
A less visible – but nevertheless crucial – advantage of strength training occurs at bone tissue level.
As the years go by, a variety of changes (including hormonal) take place, slowing the deposit of minerals in the bones.
Strength exercises use structures that positively stimulate the synthesis of bone tissue, significantly improving the biomechanical properties of the bones, bones strength and bone health.
Although the effects of strength training have been studied less than those produced by aerobic exercise, a recent Phillips study (2005) has confirmed, in the last few years, it has been an area of increasing interest to researchers in the field. It has shown itself to be as effective as aerobic exercise in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Plus, compared to aerobic exercise, it promotes the building and maintenance of muscle mass, thereby reducing muscle wastage and the resulting loss of functional capacities which occurs in subjects with senile sarcopenia.
As already stated, the most significant benefits are obtained by combining the two training methods: aerobic and strength. So what are you waiting for? Grab some dumbbells!
Unica: strength training in a space of just one square metre.
An ideal strength training solution is Unica, the multi-functional bench that can be used to work all muscle groups in the body. Thanks to its exclusive leverage system, Unica can be used to perform over 25 different exercises, simply by selecting the desired load.
We have selected three different exercises to demonstrate the versatile and complete range of strength training activities offered by Unica.
Muscles used: deltoid, triceps, trapezius
- sit on the apparatus and hold on to the lower handles, as indicated in the figure
- move your torso forwards until your chest is resting on the padding
- extend your upper limbs while keeping your torso still.
Legs – Adduction
Muscles used: adductors
- fasten the ankle strap to one of your legs
- attach the ankle strap to the lower hook
- stand sideways on to Unica, the leg with the ankle strap nearest the apparatus,
- rest your hand (on the same side as the leg with the ankle strap) on the padded support
- begin the movement holding the leg with the ankle strap slightly to one side
- move your leg inwards, so that it passes in front of the leg you are standing on. Motion must be continuous, without any breaks
- the return movement must be slow and controlled.
This is a movement which strengthens the calf muscles, used widely by athletes preparing for jumping and sprinting disciplines. Performed with a minimal load and a platform underneath the front part of the foot, it improves calf mobility.
Muscles used: soleus and gastrocnemius
- join the lat bar to the lower hook while standing in front of the apparatus and hold the bar with your palms facing downwards;
- your hands should be aligned with your shoulders
- stand on tiptoes, only moving your calves; your lower and upper limbs should remain stretched.