May 24 2018
Swimming can be a valuable cross-training tool—but there are some elements to which you'll need to pay very close attention.
Excerpted from Get Strong for Women, reprinted by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Silver-Fagan.
Getting strong doesn’t happen overnight. It is a gradual process that requires commitment to routine, dedication to form and drive to continually push yourself every day. Each time you pick up a weight, you are training your muscles to become stronger and more adept at functional movement.
Your body adapts to the type of work you demand of it. If you habitually lift heavy weights, your body responds by building the muscular strength and power to support the activity. That’s how strength training works—you overload your muscles, allow them to adapt, then overload again.
An effective training program is one that keeps your body guessing by varying the movements and challenging your body with greater resistance. This way, your body never gets comfortable, and your progress never halts.
On a microscopic level, resistance training builds your skeletal muscle mass—the muscles attached to bones and tendons that are responsible for the force behind all your movement. These muscles are composed of individual muscle fibers. When your muscles work against external resistance, such as when lifting weights, you cause microscopic tears in your muscle fibers.
After your workout, your body repairs these damaged fibers, making them stronger and thicker than before. As you continue to train, your muscles grow in size and definition. Gradually increasing the amount of weight you lift ensures that your muscles continue to build.
Building strength should not mean that you become muscle-bound or lose flexibility. A strong body is one that is able to move fluidly. For this reason, the movements in these exercises are functional, meaning they challenge your body to move as it is naturally designed to: in multiple planes of motion and in fluid, compound movements.
Effective functional strength training employs the seven foundational movement patterns: squat, lunge, push, pull, hinge, twist and walk. Together, these patterns of movement occupy all planes of motion and keep your body healthy and injury-free.