First of all, lets face it: Putting everything else aside, life is EASIER when you’re strong. Carrying groceries? One trip. Children to carry? No problem. Car stuck in the snow? Push it out with ease.
Plus, whether you’re 100 lbs overweight or just need to lose the last 15, strength training is one of the most effective ways to burn fat and build muscle.
Lifting has been shown to halt and even reverse sarcopenia – the reduction of skeletal muscle that occurs as we get older - which helps us stay independent (and out of a nursing home) and live longer.
But in addition to making life easier, strength training has a lot of great benefits right now. Here are just a few:
Look Good Naked: Strength training helps you lose weight (and body fat) in a few different ways. First, it helps you retain the muscle you have while eating a calorie deficit and losing weight.
Second, strength training has a much greater level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption than aerobic exercise. What does this mean? When you finish a workout, your body needs to do a lot of work to replenish itself in order to bring itself back to a normal state (the way it was before you worked out). This takes a lot of energy, and some studies have shown that it can boost your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you finish your workout.
Not only that, but strength training can help increase your metabolism by speeding up your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). This is because it takes your body more calories to maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat. Estimates are that for every 1 lb of muscle you gain, your RMR goes up 30-50 calories!
Makes You Healthier: If you’re looking for a workout in which you get the biggest bang for your buck, strength training is it. Strength training increases bone density, builds a stronger heart, reduces your resting blood pressure, improves blood flow, halts muscle loss, helps control blood sugar, improves cholesterol levels, and improves your balance and coordination.
You’ll Feel Better: Not only will you find yourself with more energy and confidence, less stress and anxiety, and a better overall mood, but you’ll actually begin to think better (resistance training has been proven to helpincreased cognitive function). And while training too close to bedtime can be a bad idea, exercising earlier in the day has been proven to help prevent sleep apnea and insomnia.
Prevents disease and degenerative conditions: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women; Strength training helps correct issues relating to cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and inactivity – all factors for heart disease. Cardiologists are even starting to recommend strength training for people who have suffered a heart attack as little as three weeks after the attack. Who knows, maybe one day your cardiologist will tell you to do some “cardio” and he’ll be referring to strength training!
Strength training has also been proven to help manage and improve the quality of life for people with Arthritis, Osteoperosis, Parkinson's disease, Down Syndrome, Lymphadema, Fibromialga, who have recently had a stroke,have had a spinal cord injury, cancer survivors and clinical depression.
In addition to ALL of the above, strength training is fun! Whether you are looking for the most effective 20-30 minute workout (to stay fit and look great naked), or are looking for a competitive sport that you can really get into, strength training can help you meet your goals. It’s easy and fun to see progress as you strength train, almost likje leveling up. And if you’re looking to improve in other areas (a sport, traditional cardio, or an activity like rock climbing), strength training is an easy choice!
Ok, ok. Enough already. Is there anyone who SHOULDN’T strength train?
Honestly, I did a lot of research on this one, because I wanted to find a single group of people who should not strength train. I even found studies on how strength training can be beneficial for paraplegics. Not to mention it can be safe for children, adolesents, and pregnant women. Obviously, you should take a break from strength training if you’re injured, and always check with your doctor before you start any sort of strength training program, but it’s natural for us, as humans, to move around and carry things.
We hear this from 30 year olds and 60 year olds alike…and, like "I don't have time,” it is a big fat lie! Even for the frail elderly, studies have shown that drastic results are possible in just 10 weeks of weightlifting (for both men and women in their 70s through their 90s). In fact, weight training has also been shown to delay Althsheimers and stave off Dementia. So, if you think you might be “too old,” you’re probably the exact type of person that SHOULD be strength training!
But my focus is on (running) (basketball) (soccer) and I need to stay slim!
Studies have shown that strength training actually increases the endurance of your muscles.
In fact, resistance exercises not only help to tune up an out of shape nervous system and increase the activation of motor units within your muscles, but also helps increase their overall endurance.
If you’re worried about overall size, remember: there are many types of strength training, and size and strength don’t always go hand in hand. We’ll get into more detail on this in a minute.
I don’t want to get bulky
Ladies! The images of “bulky” women that you are conjuring up are from bodybuilding magazines. This is one of the biggest myth surrounding strength training. When I started strength training, I didn’t get bulky,I got lean. And I’m no outlier, I’m just one example of the rule: Women who strength train get strong and lean, not bulky.
That “bulky” look in women does not happen by mistake or overnight – we simply do not have the hormones necessary to get there on our own. To achieve this look, women have to eat incredible amounts of food and consume incredible amounts of drugs. When we strength train normally, without these supplements, we end up looking like Athletes.
We’ll be talking more about strength training for women in a later article, but for now, just remember that everything in this article applies to both men and women.
I’m fat. I need to lose weight first.
Great! Start with strength training When you’re overweight, my guess is that you want to be preserving the muscle you have while losing the majority of your weight through fat. With strength training, your overall weight loss may seem slower, but you will lose inches faster. Strength training increases your metabolism; as long as you’re still eating in a deficit, you’ll lose weight.
We’ll be talking more about this later, but for now, just give it a shot! In strength training you can see your progress so clearly that as you can do more and more, you’ll also be rewarded by seeing your strength progress from level 1 to level 50! If you aren’t a fan of the downtime, put on a book on tape or throw on your favorite playlist while circuit training to ensure you’re always moving (instead of sitting and waiting in between sets).
Is that enough for us to convince you? Awesome. Lets get started.
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