There are more benefits of strength training than just looking good. Firm abs, well-defined deltoids, and sculpted biceps are the body ideals that most people aspire to have. All of these are signs that a person is healthy with less fat and more lean muscles. One way to achieve this physique is through regular strength training at home, outside or at the gym. However, there are more benefits of strength training than simply vanity benefits.
Strength training is a necessity because less fat equates to a healthier heart and an overall stronger physique. As a result, you reduce your risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and thyroid issues.
Strength training is the perfect complement to cardio. It lives up to its name by making you stronger with just a few sessions each week. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends that you include a strength training workout at least two times per week to boost your holistic health. Learn about strength training below to keep you inspired to pump iron or use your body weight to build your muscles.
What is Strength Training?
Strength training aims to build muscle mass using weighted resistance by contracting the muscles and applying stress. As a result, you beef up your muscular strength and muscular endurance using equipment or body weight.
Other terms for strength training are weightlifting, weight training, resistance training, circuit training, and muscular training.
An activity involving weight training entails the contraction of different major muscle groups such as your core, shoulders, arms, or legs. Unlike popular belief, lifting dumbbells is not the only way to build muscles. You can engage in strength training through:
- Bodyweight Exercises (Calisthenics): Using the force of gravity and your own body’s weight to perform various moves like burpees, push-ups, planks, lunges, squats, and pull-ups. This is often referred to as calisthenics.
- Free weight: This uses equipment not bound on the floor or a machine like kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells, or weighted balls.
- Resistance Bands: These are elastic bands that provide a lot of resistance when stretched.
- Weight Training Machines: Use big machines with adjustable weights or hydraulics, typically found in gyms.
- Suspension equipment: Using ropes like a TRX strap anchored to a holding station while the individual performs activities.
No matter what activity you perform, the primary objective of each exercise is to make your muscles tense up and contract. Studies say this paves the way for neuromuscular adaptations that stimulate muscle growth. With regular and consistent practice, your muscles will become more defined and a lot stronger than ever.
How is Strength Training Different From Cardio?
If strength training uses resistance exercises to build muscle, the goal of cardio is to increase your heart rate and burn more calories (burn more fat) during the workout. This spike in cardio happens as you engage in heart-pumping exercises. In contrast, strength training results in a metabolic spike that occurs after your workout. Because the muscles are tired and working hard to recover, you continue to burn calories even after your strength training workout is completed.
Typically, cardio is recommended for certain durations only, such as 30 minutes to an hour. It is effective for burning stubborn fat cells. Meanwhile, strength training doesn’t come with this kind of set time frame. You can take your time completing your weight training session. The goal is to work the muscles to build more lean muscle mass.
The number on the scale shouldn’t be paid much mind. With regular strength training, your weight may increase slightly, but you will still look more svelte. That’s because muscles are much denser and weigh more than fat, but muscles also take up less space making you look leaner. Finally, it’s not about picking one or the other. Strength and cardio are both essential to a holistic exercise program, so make time for both.
What are the Benefits of Strength Training?
Men and women of any age will definitely benefit from strength training. Even 2 to 3 weight training sessions for half an hour each week provides tremendous results. Take a look at some of the benefits of strength training below:
You’ll Be Stronger (and You’ll Look Stronger)
Just as its name says, strength training is built to help you become stronger. It increases your muscle mass, allowing you to easily perform daily activities, from lifting groceries to carrying your kids. Furthermore, building muscles means improving your athletic performance because it provides you with power and strength.
Research shows that strength training supports endurance athletes like marathoners because it preserves lean muscle mass. Remember, it is natural for muscle mass to decrease as people age. However, if you incorporate strength training in your life, you can reverse this.
Helps with Effective Weight Control
As you gain more muscles, you become more efficient in burning calories, making it easier to control your weight. In addition, training with resistance boosts your metabolism. Bulking up on muscles increases your metabolic rate because muscles are more efficient than fat cells. As a result, you burn more calories even at rest.
More importantly, studies assert that your metabolic rate increases up to 72% after strength training. This is great news because it indicates that you still continue to burn calories days after your strength training, making your body an efficient energy-burning machine.
Strength Training Decreases Body Fat and Tones the Body
Weight training will help you reduce overall fat, especially visceral fat that is the culprit of heart disease, diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and hypertension. Complementing your cardio workouts with strength training exercises allow you to lose fat and burn muscle faster.
With more muscles, you appear leaner because muscle is denser than fat and takes up less space. As a result, you will lose inches faster, even if the weight on the scale doesn’t change in number. On top of that, losing fat means you will have more muscle definition, creating a stronger appearance. Your body will look more toned with regular strength training.
Improves Balance and Joint Flexibility
More muscles supporting your body means you have better balance and structure in your body. In addition, strength training helps your joints stay flexible, which is important, especially in old age, where most people lose their mobility. Staying more flexible means you can respond better to stimuli, reducing your risk of falls and injuries. After all, strength training improves more than just stress but also helps with the following:
- Improves range of motion
- Ensures better muscle mobility
- Boosts functionality of ligaments and tendons
- Reinforces strength in joints
- Corrects muscular imbalances
- Improves muscular endurance
For instance, when you strengthen your core, glutes, and hamstrings, you take a load off your lower back every time you lift something. This improves your posture and decreases your risk of lower back pain.
Helps Build Stronger Bones
Studies assert that it is necessary to engage in strength training to develop stronger bones. With weight-bearing exercises, you put temporary stress on your musculoskeletal system. As a result, your body sends a message to your bone-building cells to adapt. These cells take action by assuring your body fortifies your bones.
With strong bones, you can reduce your risk of osteoporosis or bone density loss, leading to bone brittleness and fractures, especially with ageing. Similarly, improving your skeletal musculature increases insulin sensitivity, reducing blood sugar levels to help lower the risk for developing diabetes or helping those with chronic conditions manage it. Thus, you must reap the bone-strengthening advantages of resistance training to improve your overall quality of life.
Are You Ready to Begin Your Strength Training Journey?
Adding strength training to your routine provides many health benefits. Besides improving your physical health and physical appearance, it can also improve your mood and amplify your self-esteem. When you train, you challenge your body and work towards a goal, whether it’s to lift heavier, perform deeper squats, or endure a longer plank.
Meeting your objectives makes you feel good because you appreciate how your body improves and develops strength. And in the end, it helps you feel satisfied with your appearance and performance. If you are thinking of embarking on a weight training program, consult your doctor, kinesiologist or physio, especially if you haven’t exercised in a long time.
You may want to consult a fitness professional to learn the proper form and the right way to execute each strength exercise. A trainer can create a suitable plan that fits your fitness level, helping prevent frustration and injuries.
You can also find out the optimal exercise routine for you, based on your DNA by taking a CircleDNA test. Results of this comprehensive DNA test indicate health risks, the most suitable diet plans, and the best exercises for you, based on your genetics.
You’ll learn your genetic strengths and weaknesses, such as your genetic tendency to have higher or lower strength, endurance and physical power. As a result, you design a workout routine that suits you.