The Benefits of Strength Train­ing

In­tro­duc­ing Ja­clyn Delacroix! And why you should be strength train­ing...

Mountain Bike for Her - - Contents - Words by Ja­clyn Delacroix

Get­ting started is al­ways the hard­est part of any writ­ten form for me. Once you know who I am, and my gen­er­ally bad sense of hu­mour and unique writ­ing style, we are both good, so let’s try and start from the be­gin­ning. I’m an ex­pat Aussie who moved to Canada at the end of 2007 as the fi­nal por­tion of my “change of life” plan. You may now won­der why this is so im­por­tant. Well, put sim­ply, this is the point in time I be­came a Per­sonal Trainer, and hope­fully in the up­com­ing ar­ti­cles I will be able to help you out with a whole bunch of use­ful tips and ad­vice to help you achieve your goals.

The next im­por­tant ques­tion you will prob­a­bly have is “why lis­ten to me?” My an­swer: chances are any in­for­ma­tion I am im­part­ing is com­ing not just from the knowl­edge and ed­u­ca­tion that I’ve re­ceived, but from my own per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of what does and doesn’t work. I am an In­ter­na­tional Cer­ti­fied Per­sonal Trainer, a Pro­fes­sional Moun­tain Bike Coach, and my own per­sonal suc­cess story! Yes, re­ally, and what I mean by that is that at the start of 2007 - over a 12-month pe­riod - I lost half my body weight, changed my ca­reer, and I moved half way around the world. I went from the girl who could barely run a sin­gle block to the girl who has run half marathons, hiked to re­mote lo­ca­tions, and com­peted in some pretty gru­elling moun­tain bike races.

Now that we’ve got­ten the in­tro­duc­tions out of the way, let’s start at the be­gin­ning. Ev­ery­one should do strength train­ing. Pe­riod. It doesn’t mat­ter how young or old you are - or how much you ride your bike - if you don’t have some sort of strength train­ing pro­gram in that busy sched­ule of yours then you need to make time. Why? Let me list what I think are three of the most im­por­tant rea­sons:

Pos­ture: Be­tween mod­ern day life (yes, I mean sit­ting at a desk all day) and rid­ing a bike means we spend too much time round­ing our shoul­ders and hunch­ing for­ward. Sit­ting at a desk, then sit­ting on a bike all help to cre­ate weird im­bal­ances in our bod­ies that a lit­tle time lift­ing weights can help cor­rect. A good train­ing regime can undo all th­ese im­bal­ances, for ex­am­ple: help bring those shoul­ders back and open up the chest, help with back pain, and strengthen your whole pos­te­rior chain.

Strength: You would think this one is ob­vi­ous. Spend some time build­ing up­per body strength and then be suit­ably im­pressed at how much eas­ier you find han­dling your moun­tain bike while hurtling down a hill. Leg strength as well, both up and down hav­ing in­creased leg strength en­ables you to both hit more of those punchy climbs while not fa­tigu­ing out as easy on those long de­scents. Which brings me to an­other ad­van­tage of be­ing stronger, you will have bet­ter en­durance. Be­ing stronger also has a num­ber of other benefits that we will dis­cuss later, but for now we’ll keep it sim­ple.

Bone Den­sity & Mus­cle Mass: An­other no brainer, con­sid­er­ing that women are more prone to os­teo­poro­sis than men, we should do ev­ery­thing we can to keep those bones as strong as pos­si­ble. From pu­berty, you lose around 1% of mus­cle and bone strength ev­ery year.

So now you know why you should start strength train­ing the next ques­tion you are go­ing to ask me is “So how do I start?” My an­swer re­ally de­pends on a num­ber of fac­tors. For ex­am­ple, if you are new to strength train­ing, then I would sug­gest be­fore throw­ing the weights around that you con­sult with a pro­fes­sional. The one thing I can’t stress enough is good tech­nique or form when do­ing your work­outs, af­ter all, you are do­ing them to make im­prove­ments to your­self and the last thing you want is a set­back from in­cor­rectly do­ing a move and hurt­ing your­self.

Once you have your tech­nique di­alled, there are any num­ber of op­tions for train­ing. You can con­tinue to work with a pro­fes­sion in a stu­dio, gym, or have them de­sign a pro­gram for you. If you don’t want to pay for one-on-one at­ten­tion but like the more so­cial as­pect of train­ing, then there are a num­ber of group fit­ness op­tions out there. The two that come to mind are boot camp or cir­cuit train­ing. If you have ex­pe­ri­ence and feel com­fort­able work­ing out on your own, then you can al­ways train in your own home, at a com­mu­nity gym, or even out­doors, there re­ally are end­less op­tions. Just get out there and get train­ing!

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