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Year-Round Strength Training Benefits

Q: Is strength training something that should be done year-round, or just seasonally?

A: I get this question fairly often, especially from climbing clients who want to spend most of their summer months outside in the mountains. We believe everyone can benefit from doing some strength training year round, particularly women with a family history of osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, or other brittle-bone problems. If you only train a few months out of every year, each time you resume strength training, you'll basically be starting from ground zero. What's the point of training if you never make progress from one year to the next? Why not train on an ongoing basis in some way so that you improve, year after year?

Instead of stopping for several months during the busier _____ (insert one: climbing, travel, school, work, illness, etc.) season, we'd suggest you try more of a maintenance training program that is specifically designed to mesh with your sport or activity objectives. Instead of an hour 4 times a week, you might shift to 3 20-minute sessions that include multiple muscle group or compound exercises such as squats, dips, pushups, cleans, pullups or deadlifts.

By doing strength training year-round, although you may not see much "progress" per se during certain months, you'll find that your general physical preparedness increases with effort, so that whenever you are able to return to training in earnest you'll have established a new baseline and can start exactly where you left off (say, at 12 pullups vs. 2 or 3) and build from there.

In addition, if you're participating in some activity in which bodyweight is important, or if one of your objectives is to look and feel the best that you can (after all, who DOESN'T have that as a goal?), then including strength training will be vitally important. Strength training helps you build lean muscle mass, thereby speeding up your metabolism and burning more energy during times that you enter into "maintenance mode."


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