The Top 4 Benefits of Strength Trainingon
If you think HIIT or cardio workouts are the only way to improve your health and fitness, you’re not alone.
For years we’ve been taught that cardiovascular exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and bike riding were the keys to better health and weight loss.
But while they certainly are helpful, they’re not the only exercises you should be doing.
As you’ll see in this guide, there are plenty of reasons strength training benefits your physical and mental health.
But before you start adding strength training workouts to your weekly routine, let’s dive into the basics so you know exactly what you’re getting into.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training is a type of exercise where you use your own bodyweight or other tools (such as dumbbells, weights, and resistance bands) to increase your strength and overall fitness.
A few common strength training exercises using your bodyweight include push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, squats, and planks. But bicep curls, overhead presses, and kettlebell squats can all be done with weights, for example.
Most people think of strength training as a way to gain lots of muscle mass. However, that only happens when you lift very heavy weights for several hours per week over a long period of time.
In most cases, strength training simply makes you stronger, helps build muscle, and reshapes your body composition. If you use light weights or your own bodyweight, you’ll start to notice more definition without bulking up, and this may help you look more toned or slimmer as a result.
Strength training also packs a few other health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Strength Training
Now that you know more about what strength training is, let’s cover some of the biggest mental and physical health benefits this exercise style delivers:
1. Decrease Body Fat, Increase Lean Muscle, and Boost Your Metabolic Rate
One of the top reasons people turn to strength training is to lose body fat while increasing muscle mass.
In a 10-week trial, study participants added more lean mass, reduced their body fat, and improved their metabolic rate (i.e., how many calories you burn at rest) just by weaving strength training workouts into their weekly routine.
Researchers also noted that the individuals in the study also boosted their physical performance, movement control, cognitive ability, and their self-esteem.
Another body of research confirmed these findings and added even more good news. Scientists noticed that strength training workouts helped participants:
- Decrease their blood pressure
- Improve their blood sugar levels and blood lipid profiles
- Lower body fat
- Raise their basal metabolic rate (BMR)
And that’s just the beginning.
2. Improved Body Image
A different 10-week trial had study participants perform strength training workouts twice per week. Researchers noticed that participants reported a higher overall body image and better quality of life. They even admitted to enjoying exercise more when they added in strength training!
3. Improved Quality of Life and Healthy Aging
Researchers in another body of research learned that strength training helped participants enhance their quality of life in a number of different ways.
First, strength training makes your muscles stronger, as mentioned earlier. It also helps your body maintain its muscle mass (which can sometimes decrease during weight loss). And it even aids in building stronger bones.
Strength training also helps your body process excess glucose from the foods you eat. This is helpful for preventing diabetes, weight gain, obesity, and other serious chronic diseases.
And, similar to cardiovascular exercises such as running and walking, strength training even has the power to lower your risk of developing heart disease.
Researchers say all these benefits of strength training are crucial for sustaining a solid quality of life now and well into old age, which means the best time to start is now.
4. Better Moods, Decreased Anxiety, and Higher Self-Confidence
Strength training isn’t just about adding or maintaining muscle and protecting your physical health. It’s also been shown to provide stellar cognitive benefits too.
Researchers had healthy but sedentary adults start a strength training program in one study. They found that participants increased their muscle strength by close to 40% and reduced their body fat by 3%.
While these results are fantastic, researchers were most impressed by the mental benefits. Participants reported better moods, less anxiety, and improved confidence at the end of their trial.
Final Thoughts on Including More Strength Training Workouts Into Your Weekly Routine
With all these strength training benefits on the table, you’d be smart to include at least two to three sessions into your weekly routine.
Doing so will help you reap all the incredible benefits mentioned in this guide, and you may even find yourself looking and feeling better in no time.
One thing to note before we sign off: It’s important not to overdo your strength training workouts when you’re just starting out.
If you go too hard and lift more than you can handle, you may sacrifice proper form and become more prone to injuries. You may also feel more exhausted instead of energized after working out.
So find a happy balance by including one light-to-moderate strength training session each week and work your way up from there. Don’t get tempted to overdo it or compete with others at the gym lifting more than you. And give yourself rest days in between.
Staying in this sweet middle spot will ensure you reap all these benefits without putting yourself in harm’s way.