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The Alaska Club

TAC Board: The Alaska Club Blog

Discover Your Strength

Posted by Tracy Dumas. | Jul 20, 2023 10:45:53 AM

I remember the first time I tried Group Power. I walked into the West club’s group fitness room full of people who seemed to know exactly which weights to grab off the racks, how many, and how to set up their bar and bench just right. My head filled with thoughts like what if I lift too heavy or not enough? What if I drop my weighty bar on myself or even worse, someone else? How sore will I be tomorrow? Fast forward more than 10 years, Group Power is one of my favorite classes and I now consider strength training a must in my regular fitness rotation. Whether you enjoy the camaraderie of a Group Power class, prefer to strength train solo or with a personal trainer, chances are you too, were once unsure how to add weights to your workouts. TAC Director of Personal Training, Cameron Allen has some tips on how to get started.

Cameron says everyone can train with weights, but proper training should start even before you get to the gym. “Get a good night’s sleep, wear supportive shoes and comfortable clothes, and be sure you have enough hydration and fuel in your body,” says Cameron, adding that you can do a little cardio warm up to get your muscles primed. Then, once you get started with weights, Cameron suggests that you take breaks, start slow and light, then build. Also, consider the amount of weights you use depending on your goals, fitness level, and endurance. For muscular strength he suggests using higher weight and lower reps. To focus on endurance, try more reps with lower weight.

According to the American Cancer Society, just two to three 20 or 30-minute strength training sessions a week can produce major benefits including:

1. Increased muscle mass: Muscle mass naturally decreases with age, but strength training can help reverse the trend.

2. Stronger bones: Strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk of fractures.

3. Joint health: Strength training helps maintain joint mobility and can reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

4. Weight control: Strength training creates more lean muscle tissue which burns more calories.

5. Balance: Strengthening exercises increase flexibility and balance as people age, reducing falls and injuries. Source: The American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org

“Strength training is a great opportunity to get to know yourself and learn how much patience you have with yourself,” says Cameron, who notes that adding strength training to your regular routine should be done by considering your goals, prior workout history, availability to do it regularly, your mood, and where you are in life. Are you pregnant? Recovering from an injury? Haven’t worked out in a while? Those are all things to consider before you take on a strength training routine. Cameron notes no matter your fitness level, you can add some degree of strength training to your gym routine. “We have a good variety at the club with group fitness classes that have instructors who can help, and you can also learn by watching your classmates,” he says, “We have machines to help take the balance portion out of using a bar or free weights. Or you can just use free weights if you want to focus on balance exercises with strength training. These are all tools you can use to work your muscles differently. Both have their place and are vital depending on what you’re trying to accomplish.”

Not sure how to use a weight machine? Cameron says most of the machines you’ll find at the clubs have a QR code to scan for directions on how to use it or you can ask a trainer on the floor, and they’ll be happy to help you. You can also try using the TRX system where Cameron says you can do a lot of the same movements but with added stability. “For instance, if you’re new at lunges, it feels safer to have a crutch until you get it down. Or you might have limited mobility due to an injury, so using the support of TRX straps is a good way to go.” Body weight exercises, like pushups or planks are another way to start incorporating strength training into your routine.

Cameron says you can expect a bit of soreness when you start strength training because the lactic acid you produce when training is a byproduct of stressing your muscles. He says to reduce soreness, move your body after a strength workout by walking, stretching, or swimming rather than just sitting. And remember to hydrate and eat after and in between sessions. “If you can spend an hour in the gym, then you can spend an hour a week doing some meal prep to ensure that you’re eating good food – that’s part of recovery,” he says adding that rest is also important in preventing injury and coming back ready for your next session. “On your off days you can walk, jog, stretch, use a foam roller or percussion therapy gun, get a massage, use the sauna, or even take a cold plunge,” says Cameron.

Once you get into a regular strength training routine, Cameron says you’ll notice positive changes not only in how you look with more lean muscle tissue that strength training helps to create, but more importantly, how you feel. “Your quality of life will go way up with a stronger body.” He says, “You’ll maintain independence with your everyday activities, and leisure activities will also be easier and more fun.” This is especially true as you age, as weight training strengthens your bones to help support an active lifestyle.

Remember, says Cameron, when it comes to muscle, “Use it or lose it! Find something that’s fun to stay engaged. The best workout you can do is the one you keep doing.” The Alaska Club has a team of dedicated personal trainers available to its members. You can also schedule a fitness consultation, where a trainer will evaluate your unique needs and wants. Ready to get started? Visit www.thealaskaclub.com/request-fitness-consultant

Assistant Personal Training Manager at The Alaska Club East, Yvonne Jeschke, also contributed information for this article.

Written by Tracy Dumas.

Director of Marketing & PR

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