What Are The Benefits Of Strength Training?
Are you a gym bunny who loves spending hours at the gym? Or are you just curious about finding the right exercise for you? Strength Training is a term often used in the fitness industry, but what exactly is strength training and how is it beneficial? Simply put, it is a type of training that uses resistance to increase muscle strength by making your muscles work against a weight or force.
According to the American Heart Association Strength training, also known as weight or resistance training, is a physical activity designed to improve muscular strength and fitness by exercising a specific muscle or muscle group against external resistance, including free weights, weight machines, or your body weight.
Did you know that strength does not necessarily have anything to do with muscle size? Of course, if your goal is to grow your muscles, then strength training is the main ingredient. But there is more to it than meets the eye. The phrase “use it or lose it” is applicable in this case. Lean muscle mass naturally, and unfortunately, diminishes with age.
Benefits Of Strength Training
Below of some of the amazing benefits of strength training:
- A Stronger You
Since resistance training is based on the principle that the muscles of the body will work to overcome a resistance force when required, training resistance often enough, your muscles will become stronger.
Strength training will leave you feeling strong and capable. Daily tasks become easier and you learn proper form, such as lifting from your legs and keeping your back straight… thank you deadlifts.
It’s a common misconception that you will get bulky if you lift heavy weights. It can take months of intense training and dedication to bulk up, and unless you are specifically trying to grow big muscles, it just won’t happen that easily. On the contrary, lifting heavy weights will make your body look fit and lean.
- Goodbye to Fat
Not only does strength training burn calories, but it also increases your muscle mass. More muscle mass means a higher metabolism for “extra” fat-burning, even while you sleep! Strength training also has a longer afterburn effect, which means you burn calories as your body returns to a normal state after the training is over.
- Brain Power
This one’s a biggie. Strength training has neuroprotective powers. It has been proven that strength training changes the cellular environment inside your brain, thus improving your ability to think. Strength training has been shown to improve your cognitive thinking, including reducing dementia by 30 percent in your later years.
In addition to that, strength training improves your mood and mental health. Exercise releases endorphins which drastically improve your mood. There have been studies that show that strength training is more effective than aerobic exercises in this regard. By adding more strength-based workouts to your training routine, you will be able to reduce anxiety and manage any mental health issues.
- Healthy Heart
Like many of your vital organs, your heart has fat known as visceral fat.
Less visceral fat= healthier heart!
Strength training is excellent to reduce and prevent the build-up of this fat. Strength training directly impacts your cardiovascular health with better-functioning HDL (the good cholesterol) and improves your blood pressure as well as triglyceride levels (type of fat in your blood).
By adding 1-hour of strength training into your workout routine, you will be able to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke by up to 70%, according to a recent study.
- Strong to the Bone
Strength training improves bone density, thus reducing the risk of fracture. You’ll have a strong body inside and out!
Strong bones are especially important for women, who lose a large portion of their bone density between the ages of 20 and 80. Because of this, women have a higher risk of breaking bones and developing osteoporosis. Fortunately, studies have shown that strength training can help prevent bone loss and may even help build new bone.
Kinds Of Strength Training
Of course, there are different kinds and techniques of strength training, depending on what your end goal is. Strength training is for everyone, and that doesn't mean that everyone can lift heavyweights.
Firstly, there is strength training for muscle power. This type of strength training is popular for athletes as it focuses on explosiveness. Fast-twitch muscle fibers are activated during this kind of training. The more muscle power strength training, the more you will be able to do a powerful movement in a short period – sprinting, jumping and agility are some activities to improve this kind of strength.
PRO – Builds lean muscle and helps athletic performance.
CON – You will fatigue father than other types of strength training and your muscles will need more time to recover.
Secondly, there is strength training for muscle strength. This one is for all the people who want to grow their muscles in size. This is done by lifting weights and making your muscle fibers bigger. This is the type of strength training powerlifters do.
PRO – You will become strong and be able to exert a lot of force.
CON – It is not for everyone and can be dangerous if the proper form and technique are not used.
Thirdly, there is strength training for muscle hypertrophy. This type of training increases the size of muscle cells and is perfect for getting an overall toned look.
PRO – Builds lean muscle as well as promotes weight loss.
CON – Watch out for stress fractures as it is easy to overtrain, especially after seeing results.
Lastly, there is strength training for muscular endurance. Unlike muscle power training, this training engages the slow-twitch fibers. This means this strength works on endurance. This is perfect for marathon runners or rowers.
PRO – This training promotes heart health and depending on how much demand you place on the muscles, you can activate the slow twitching muscles as well.
CON – Overtraining can deplete muscle stores and make you vulnerable to injury.
Strength training is such a valuable life tool. Not only will you reach your health goals and prevent illnesses, but it also equips you for life. You know what they say, happy body, happy life. Not only will you be healthier, but your mood and self-esteem will improve.
Still, wondering if you should add some strength training into your workout routine? You only need one hour of weight training a week to reap the heart health effects. How cool is that?
It can be overwhelming to begin strength training but remember to ease into it. Learn proper techniques and even speak to your medical practitioner if you have any concerns.
Bottom line: Mind, body, and soul will thank you for incorporating strength training into your life.