(NewsUSA) - When it comes to getting fit, many consider cardio exercise the best solution. But strength training is also an essential part of any comprehensive exercise routine. Strength training can boost cardio health, burn calories and fat and put you on the fasttrack for fitness success.
It's no surprise that strength training was listed as a top fitness trend for both men and women by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). It's also a key step towards improving quality of daily life -- whether that's countering long hours spent at a desk job or staying active with the family.
"Everyone can benefit enormously from strength training," says celebrity trainer and Bowflex Fitness Advisor Tom Holland. "Muscle helps our bodies work optimally, providing us with functional strength and the ability to perform daily activities with ease."
Here are some easy ways to add some strength training into your exercise routine:
* Commit to a regular routine, and build from there. If you are new to strength training, consider lighter weights and fewer repetitions to get started. You can challenge yourself with larger increments and higher repetitions as you progress. "Success in strength training is all about overloading the muscle with precise weight and progressing appropriately," Holland says.
* Use equipment, or keep it simple. Equipment such as kettle bells, dumbbells and medicine balls are all great options. For example, the Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells (www.bowflexselecttech.com) replace 15 sets of weights with a space-saving design -- adjustable from 5 to 52.5 pounds at the turn of a dial. If you don't have easy access to weights, or want to start off simple, everyday objects, such as a frozen water bottle or cans of soup, can be used as substitutes.
* Get back to the basics with functional fitness. Functional fitness focuses on strength and bodyweight training exercises to improve balance, develop muscle and condition our bodies. Basic exercises, such as squats or sit-ups, mimic movements used in daily life. Another option to keep your body tuned to daily activities is walking. You might not be ready for a 5k walk, but a machine like the Bowflex TreadClimber (www.treadclimber.com) can help you get started by combining the motions of a treadmill, a stair climber and an elliptical.
* Fuel your strength training with protein. "Protein is essential to building lean muscle," says Holland. One easy solution is a protein shake or smoothie. For example, the new Bowflex Body (www.bowflexbody.com) nutrition line includes fitness shakes that provide a 15-gram punch of protein and essential vitamins for only 125 calories.