Strength training is the perfect way to get a well-toned body. This training is not just for bodybuilders though. Everyone can benefit by adding some weight training into their routines, and it is still the best way to reach your health goals.
Strength Training Helps Your Whole Body And Mind
I always recommend starting slow with any new routine. If you try to do too much, you can put yourself at risk for an injury. Whether you are a novice or a pro, you will want to add more strength training into your workout. Here are a few ways that those weights can be beneficial to your physical and mental health.
Benefits of Strength Training
1. Gain More Confidence
When you graduate from 5-pound weights to 10-pound ones, you feel more confident about your workout. In that sense, you will have a boost in self-esteem and confidence.
One study compares the effects of resistance training on the psychological health of adults. With this study, those who participated in weight training experienced higher self-esteem over a four week period. The feeling of getting stronger did more to the psychological health of the participant.
James Whitworth, a doctoral research fellow in the Biobehavioral Resistance Training Lab at Columbia’s Teachers College in New York City, said, “Over time, you get better at something you’re doing, and you develop a sense of mastery and feeling that you’re getting stronger. It helps your confidence, and that gives you a boost in self-esteem.
2. Improve Your Brain Health
All that time you spend lifting weights can pay off in a positive way. The Journal of Age and Aging has found that building muscle can stop sarcopenia, which is a condition that causes people to lose muscle mass and strength.
In addition to that, exercise has been shown to improve your cognitive thinking, including reducing dementia by 30 percent in your later years.
Strength training works differently than those cardio workouts. Italian researchers found that a 12-week strength regimen improved the older participants’ practical and cognitive skills. Cardio only showed improvements with their analytic tasks in the same study.
3. Be More “In Tune” With Your Body
When you begin to strength train, you will notice soreness in your muscles. For the beginning strength trainers, you may consider the post-session soreness to be a setback for your workout. Whenever you feel some aches from a workout, just keep in mind that signifies that your muscles are getting stronger.
Soreness after a workout can give you a sense of added strength. Over time, you will come to recognize what is normal soreness, and what may be a potential injury.
According to John Spence, a professor of physical education and recreation at the University of Alberta in Canada, “You look forward to the fatigue and interpret it in a positive way.” His study showed a correlation between the boost of self-esteem and exercise.
Remember to take it slow and easy. If you experience excruciating pain, that may be a sign to ease up on your routine.
4. Visually See The Difference
When you start to strength train, you want to see improvements right away. This type of training is the perfect way to see your body progress after a grueling workout.
The first month of a strength training routine can be tough. Your body will begin to see an increase in muscle tone and strength while decreasing your body fat. This transformation can occur in as little as two to four weeks. These milestones are often called “newbie gains” as your body starts to adapt to the new routine.
Within a few weeks of your workouts, you should notice a definition of your muscles in the mirror, and you can begin to take workout selfies to improve your mood. You need to remember to stick to your workouts, as once in a while routines will not help you gain any muscles.
5. Fight Off Depression And Anxiety
According to JAMA Psychiatry, researchers have found that people with mild to moderate depression saw significant reductions in their symptoms with only two or more days of exercise. For those with severe depression symptoms, resistance exercises also were beneficial to improve their moods.
These exercises are designed to increase strength and improve mood, whether performed alone or in a combination of other strategies. Even if you don’t struggle with depression, you can forget about your problems with a tough workout. Your focus will be on the intensity of the strength training and away from mundane thoughts that can add stress to your life.
6. Stop Your Obsession With The Scale
Those numbers on the scale don’t tell the whole story of your weight training adventure. You might want to hide the scale for a few weeks, and you should focus on a training goal for your body. When you build muscle mass, you will see an increase in your weight.
Don’t stress about a little extra weight. Strength training should shift your perspective from the scale to a full body transformation. You want to get stronger and feel empowered when working out.
Remember that everything is a balance. You will add more muscle while developing a healthier lifestyle. If you constantly look at the scale, you can become discouraged on your journey. Keep your eyes on your goals, and you will confidently work towards your desired results.
7. Improve Cardiovascular Health
Your heart and vital organs have fat, known as visceral fat, that surrounds these issues. For a healthier heart, you do not want to carry a lot of fat in these areas. Strength training can help you to reduce or prevent the buildup of this fat.
Strength training can directly impact your cardiovascular health. The Journal of Applied Physiology studied a group of young men in 2013. Those who regularly used strength training had:
- Better-functioning HDL or good cholesterol
- Improved blood pressure
- Increased triglyceride levels
It should also be noted that grip strength, a test for total body muscle health, is a better predictor of death from health-related problems than the standard blood pressure tests.
8. Gain A Sense Of Accomplishment
Strength training can be intimidating for those starting out, or even those who have hit the gym in the past. When you walk towards the barbells and heavy plates, you may feel a little hesitant. These feelings are normal for anyone trying something new for the first time.
Fear can hold you back from accomplishing your goals. You may think you’re not strong enough or don’t have the right technique to weight training. You need to remember that everyone starts at the beginning, and you are no different.
You can transform that fear into confidence. When you start to train regularly, you can push aside the fear and gain control of your workouts. After you have finished, you will have a sense of accomplishment that you may not recognize before strength training.
9. Increase Your Flexibility And Mobility
Do you think that stretching is the only way to increase your flexibility? You might want to think about strength training. According to the Journal of Isokinetic and Exercise Science, they conducted a study that showed strength training improved the flexibility of both women and men. Strength training was proven to improve hamstring flexibility more than static stretching.
These exercises emphasized muscle lengthening. They are known as eccentric muscle action where the muscle develops tension and contracts to the motion performed with an outside force. Some of these exercises include:
• Downward motion of a squat
• Lat Pull Downs
• Lowering the body during a crunch
If you complete these particular exercises, you will not only build up muscle tone but increase your total body’s mobility as well.
10. Longer Lifespan
Everyone wants to live a long and healthy life. We all know that the right diet and exercise program can help you achieve this goal. Strength training is one way to improve your increase your lifespan.
A 2017 opinion from the Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care study showed that body mass index (also known as BMI) is an excellent indicator of lean muscle better. In turn, this type of muscle mass measures a person’s overall health. With less fat and leaner muscle, you will put less stress on vital organs in your body.
There is more evidence to back up this claim with a study from the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. They found people with lower muscle strength are 50 percent more likely to die earlier than their weight training peers. Strength training is shown to reduce the overall fat in your body, and that leads to a healthier and longer life.
11. Prevent Osteoporosis
You’ve heard the saying that “strong bodies lead to strong bones.” When you add strength training into your workout routine, you can see an increase in bone mineral density. These weight-bearing exercises strengthen your muscles and bones.
As the muscles contracts, it pulls on the bones. In turn, those bones cells are stimulated to move more protein and minerals into your bones. If you are looking for bone-building exercises, you should consider adding lunges and squats to your workouts.
12. Lower The Risk of Injuries
Many people are concerned about injuries as they work out. These injury fears can lead to people skipping the workout altogether, or not feeling they are capable of moderate strength training. The opposite is true for strength training as it can lower the risk of injuries.
Researchers in Copenhagen found that people who engage in strength training lowered their injuries by 68 percent. Those numbers were more significant than stretching (4 percent) and general exercise (37 percent) combined.
Strength training can help to increase the diameter and number of collagen fibrils in the tendons, and it can also increase their strength too. As you can see, strength training is the ultimate injury prevention for your joints and tendons.
13. Reduce The Risk of Cancer
Remember that unwanted visceral fat around your heart and organs? Well, it can pose another danger to your health. Visceral fat increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The journal Oncogene published a study in 2017 that showed the visceral fat cells produce higher levels of the cancer-causing proteins known as fibroblast growth factor-2 or FGF2.
In another study, the Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology also concluded that muscle mass is an indicator of how cancer treatments will respond. In some cancer cases, there is a complication known as muscle wasting. This disease comes with a higher risk of toxicity to chemotherapy, a quicker progression of tumors, and lower survival rates.
Daily strength training can help build up those muscles and lose the visceral fat that can cause problems down the road for you.
14. Control Your Blood Sugar Levels
If you are at risk for diabetes, or already have it, you know the importance of controlling those blood sugar levels. Strength training is something you need to consider to incorporate into your workout routine. The American Diabetes Association recommends those with Type 2 start a training program to help control their blood sugar.
Strength training is essential for everyone, especially for those with diabetes. It can help the body:
- Improve the use of blood sugar
- Lose weight
- Better response to insulin
- Lower the risk of heart diseases
The BioMed Research International journal showed that strength training also helped the muscles’ ability to use and take glucose in the blood. The muscle cells receive glucose from the blood. With strength training, extra glucose is absorbed into the muscle cells.
15. Develop Better Body Mechanics
Everyone wants to have perfect posture. It keeps your body in alignment and takes the stress off the back and spine. Strength training will help you improve your coordination, balance, and posture.
For those at a higher risk of falls, one study showed that strength training reduced falls by 40 percent compared with those who did not participate in any strength training exercises.
You want to remain coordinated and reduce your risk of falls in your older years. Your muscle strength keeps you on your feet with excellent balance. Stronger muscles mean better balance. By avoiding strength training exercises, you could be putting yourself at risk for a severe fall.
16. Keep The Weight Off For Good
We all know that aerobic exercise helps you burn calories throughout the day, and it is a great way to lose those extra pounds. You can boost your resting metabolism with a little strength training during the day.
Resistance training increases the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which means you will burn more calories after your workout. Your metabolism continues to remain active after the exercise, and in many cases, longer than an aerobic workout.
A 2017 study in the journal Obesity showed the dieters that completed strength training lost more fat (18 pounds) compared to those who only worked out with aerobic exercises (10 pounds).
Whether you are actively working out or resting after a routine, strength training can turn your body into a fat-burning machine.
17. Get a Better Night’s Sleep
A tough workout can boost your mental health, and get you ready to start the day. But did you know it can help you improve your sleep patterns as well? Regular exercise helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer than medications.
There is a misconception that working out at night will prevent you from falling asleep. It doesn’t matter if your workout in the morning, afternoon, or night. Studies have shown that vigorous exercise may be best to improve your mood and sleep.
By reducing your stress level and boosting your glucose metabolism, you can have a restful sleep after a hard routine of strength training.
18. Reduce Back Pain
There are many reasons for back pain, but one of the most common causes is an imbalance in the muscles. If you have a weak core, you may feel this type of faulty biomechanics.
The muscles in your body work in a kinetic chain. When one link is out of balance, it can also cause problems in other parts of your body, including back pain. You can help reduce the severity of back pain by adding strength training into your normal workouts.
For example, if you have weak glutes, you may feel pain in your hip flexor area. Your muscles don’t weaken evenly in the body. Any weakness can cause your joints and muscles to feel out of whack, and that is when you will start to feel pain in your back.
19. Improve Your Body’s Composition
If you have a muffin top or a beer belly, you want them to go away immediately. While there is no magic bullet to make it disappear, strength training can get you on the right track.
Strength training changes the way your body uses calories and how your metabolism works. Testosterone and growth hormone productions are stimulated during a resistance workout. In turn, you can:
- Improve your carbohydrate storage
- Displace fat
- Lower chronic cortisol levels
Over time, you will notice those flabby legs and arms replaced with toned muscles. You get more bang for your buck when you add strength training. No, it will not drop pounds immediately, but it helps you safely lose that unwanted fat.
Your body will also be more contoured and toned, so you do not have to worry about rapid weight loss that leaves you with loose skin.
20. Add Strength Without The Bulk
The number one concern of people starting a weight training routine is getting bulky. While bulging muscles are great for bodybuilding competitions, it just doesn’t work for the average Joe or Jane. So many people avoid strength training because of this preconceived notion.
You need to remember that weight lifters and bodybuilders are often on strict plans to achieve that type of muscle mass. Your regular barbell will not have you looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
When you add a healthy diet with strength training, you will get that lean and fit body without the bulk. Once you start on a strength program, you will feel stronger and healthier. You can be assured that you are providing your body with the best benefits with resistance workouts.
Strength training provides many benefits for those of all age groups and activity levels. You don’t have to be a gym rat to add some resistance workouts to your routine. With even a few minutes a day, you can start to see a difference in your appearance and health.
We all want to have healthier bodies. One way to achieve that is by adding strength training to your workouts. As you have read, there are more benefits than toned muscles.
The body relies on all the muscles to work in harmony, and when you start your strength training, you will begin to feel balance in your body. I always recommend strength training when you want to start working out.
Strength training boosts your mood, increases your cognitive abilities, and tones up those muscles. With a few exercises a day, you will start to see an improvement in the shape of your body. From improved sleep to better balance, strength training is one workout regimen that benefits everyone.