You’ve finally mastered the cardio machine tango. Treadmill. Elliptical. Bike. Repeat. After all, a good workout routine is all about variety, right?
One day, as you’re jogging on the ‘mill at the gym, you glance over at some folks lifting weights. Yikes, you think, those dumbbells look heavy. Meh, you’re not a bodybuilder, so you don’t have to worry about those … right?
Wrong. Strength training is often mistaken for a workout reserved only for those who want massive muscle gainz. But in fact, it’s actually an important component of a well-rounded fitness program and, according to Nike Master Holly Rilinger, a must—no matter what your fitness goals are.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, improves strength, endurance, and muscle tone, and helps you achieve that lean and toned look. Increasing muscle mass helps give your metabolism a boost too, which can help you lose weight.
Strength training is also important for maintaining bone strength, and may help reduce your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
And the great thing about strength training is it can be done anytime, anywhere, and in a variety of ways: From lifting weights to using resistance bands to using your own body weight.
So, How Often Should You Strength Train?
OK, so you know it’s wise to add some weight lifting to your cardio mix, but how often should you do it?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic, one-size-fits-all number. It comes down to individual goals, fitness level, and overall health. Riligner recommends most adults should aim for two to three days of strength training per week to start.
Two or three days a week may not sound like a lot, but that’s because it’s important to space out those resistance days to allow time for recovery, Rilinger says. Recovery time is *essential* to reap the most benefit from strength training. Here’s why: As you put resistance on the muscles, the muscle fibers break down. The days in between strength training is when the body rebuilds that broken down muscle tissue. (To help this process, it’s also important to eat the right foods before and after a workout.)
So whether you are looking to get massive gainz or slim down, remember: A good fitness routine includes cardio and strength training. You can still do your cardio machine tango, just aim to introduce a little strengthening training salsa, too.
Get more fitness advice from Holly Rilinger: