Photo credit: Graham Mattock
"Strong is the new beautiful." Nike
Strength for optimal health
Physical strength is one of the most important metrics of a healthy body. Robust muscles, tendons and ligaments provide support for your bones and joints which reduces your susceptibility to injury. Unfortunately, muscle mass diminishes as we get older but effective strength training can build it back up at any age. Muscular strength increases bone density, improves posture, enhances balance, boosts stamina and increases the efficiency of the cardiovascular system. It's essential for optimal health.
Strength for confidence and happiness
If you're not physically strong, you limit what you're capable of. Imagine how incredible it would feel if you could jump fearlessly into every experience that presented itself to you. If you had no physical limitations, aches or pains holding you back. Think what you could accomplish. Being physically strong is incredibly empowering. Training strength is also proven to improve your mood and reduce stress by increasing levels of the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
Strength for a beautiful body
A strong body is a beautiful thing. We're biologically programmed to be attracted to people who look healthy, athletic and fertile as this signals that you are likely to be a great partner and parent. The most obvious external signs are strong muscles, high energy and good stamina. Also when you're strong, you feel powerful and you exude confidence and assertiveness.
Yoga for strength training
Yoga, as a form of bodyweight strength training, has some unique benefits:
- Yoga recruits muscle groups as opposed to focussing on isolated body parts.
- Yoga involves multiple planes of motion.
- Yoga is not demanding on the joints.
- Yoga incorporates isometric, eccentric and concentric movements.
- Yoga improves body awareness.
- Yoga trains breath efficiency.
- Practicing barefoot strengthens the muscles in the feet, arches, ankles and lower legs.
- Yoga strengthens the core stabiliser muscles.
- Yoga can be done anywhere with minimal equipment.
- Yoga is fun and varied which means you are more likely to stick with it.
Strength training tips
- Consistency. Train for strength at least 3 times a week, giving yourself a day to recover in between.
- Intensity. Muscles only grow if you continue to add intensity to your training.
- Variety. Go to a gymnastics class, learn parkour, take up kickboxing or jujitsu, sign up for an obstacle race or volunteer to help your friend move house. Mix it up for a more well-rounded strength.
Yoga for Strength routine
This is the first video in the Strength series. It focuses on foundational yoga poses that strengthen the arms, shoulders, chest and upper back.