Coach Chelsea Aguiar knows a thing or two about strength training. Our Costa Rica fitcation leader has almost 7 years of experience with kettlebells, powerlifting, competitive weightlifting and coaching, which was all kicked off with an impressive transformation of her own body in 2010.
Read on for her take on why strength training is crucial to any workout program. Plus, check out Chelsea's favorite moves, as well as tips to get started on your own strength journey!
Why are you so passionate about strength training?
I was first introduced to strength training in 2010 when I started working out at kettlebell fitness studio in Santa Fe, NM. When I joined, I was 3 months post op from a hip surgery, 30lbs overweight, and motivated to make a change. This began my love affair with kettlebells. I took class 3x a week and watched as my body and confidence grew stronger.
25lbs down and 3 months later I moved to New York and landed my first personal training job at Equinox. It was during my time there that I competed in an NPC bikini competition, studied power-lifting, and received my USAW & USATF Coaching Certifications (USA Weightlifting, USA Track and Field).
In 2013 I founded Athaya Fitness, a health and fitness company dedicated to helping clients improve their health, confidence and overall wellbeing in a sustainable fashion. It is my belief that physical strength is key in maintaining a healthy, injury free level of fitness, and should be the foundation of any weight loss or training program.
Why should strength training be the foundation for any workout program, and what are the biggest benefits?
1) Faster Metabolism: The stronger you are, the more muscle you have on your body. Individuals with higher percentages of muscle in turn have higher metabolisms because the body has to fuel those hungry muscles. This is the whole reason that men tend to lose weight quicker than women. They have higher percentages of muscle mass which require a greater caloric expenditure. It is estimated that with each new pound of muscle gained, your body burns an additional 30-50 calories a day!
2) Increased confidence and happiness: Studies have shown that regular exercise and strength training can improve self-esteem, sleep habits and overall happiness levels. This is why it is essential to weight-loss and maintaining lasting health. You’re changing how you feel about yourself and the world around you, sculpting a rocking bod, and building physical and mental resilience.
3) Health benefits: Strength, or resistance training also has a long list of health benefits! It plays a role in disease prevention of arthritis, and diabetes. It is one of the best ways to prevent bone and muscle loss due to aging, and can help individuals maintain a healthy weight.
4) Physical benefits: There are also performance and aesthetic benefits; being faster, stronger, more coordinated, more toned, tight, and all around fit!
5) In a nutshell: Strength training is basically the fountain of youth!
What are your top 3 strength training moves, and why?
This exercise is a core component of strength training. It is a total body exercise, which gives you a whole lot of bang for your buck. If you’re a runner, a squat every day type, or a desk jockey, adding deadlifts to your workout routine can help keep knees, and backs stay happy by balancing out the muscles of the leg and strengthening your booty and back. How well can you “pick things up and put them down?”
Personally I believe that everyone should be able to push themselves up from the floor, both figuratively and literally. Push-ups work the upper body and help build those toned arms we all dream of! You also get the added benefit of core work from maintaining a solid plank position while lowering and raising yourself from the floor. Who said that good exercises need to be complicated?
A squat is hands down the most functional exercise you will ever do. How many times a day do you sit down and stand up? Walk up stairs? Crouch down to pick something up? We squat all day long and yet the majority of new clients come to me with sleepy glutes, poor squat mechanics and low back pain. Squatting is a great way to prevent back pain, develop athletic performance, and build buns of steel.
If someone is new to strength training, how do you recommend they get started?
1. Work slowly, methodically, and NEVER sacrifice form or technique. When we strength train we put our bodies under tremendous stress. It is important that we target that stress into our larger muscle groups and use the body as a cohesive system instead of in pieces. How you move is more important than what you move. It doesn’t matter how strong you are if every time you’re in the gym people fear for your safety. You know that guy… Don’t be that guy.
2. Educate yourself or speak with a fitness professional. The internet (and library) are saturated with fitness and workout books. Amazon currently has 8,458 books about strength training, 52,808 about workouts and 358,397 about fitness. YouTube is the largest free library of tutorials in the world. They currently have 2,320,000 videos about deadlifts.
Still apprehensive to weight train on your own? Hiring a personal trainer, or attending group fitness classes can provide structure to your program, and the invaluable bonus of a watchful eye. They will know what weights will be safe for you to start with, when to go heavier, and frequency of training. You would never ask your mechanic for beauty advice. Stop getting your workout advice from your coworkers, and talk to a professional.
Want more from Chelsea? Join us in Costa Rica this Feb 10-14 for her Strive for Strength retreat. You can expect high intensity workouts, mobility & strength sessions, meditation, surfing, zip lining, beach time and fun in the pool.
And follow Chelsea on Instagram @Chelsea_AthayaFit for more #fitspo.