6 Reasons Why You Need to Strength Train

benefits-to-strength-trainingWeight lifting and strength training can get a bad rap. Some people think that strength training is reserved for “meat-heads” and jocks, others (mainly women) worry they will bulk up if they lift. The truth is you’re not going to get hulk-like unless you work really hard at it! Women simply do not have enough testosterone to build major muscle mass unless they lift very, very heavy. And, guys, need to work up to low repetition, high weight strength training for Arnold Schwarzenegger-like muscles.

We should all be strength training to look and feel our best. Strength training goes a long way towards improving physical fitness, self confidence and appearance.  Here are 6 reasons why everyone needs to strength train. Pass these on to your clients or staff to encourage them to add strength training into their routines.

1. The afterburn factor. After vigorous activity our bodies are still burning calories. Generally the more intense the exercise the greater the afterburn.  Studies show that lifting weights can jack up metabolism beyond an hour post-workout. Essentially you get more bang for your buck by adding strength training to your routine.

2. Strength training can change your shape.  If toning up is part of an individual’s goal then cardio alone will not achieve the ideal physique. Cardiovascular activities such as running, cycling,  and aerobics can prompt weight loss through calorie burn. However,  while cardio can help shrink the body it doesn’t change shape. So if an individual loses weight through cardio all their flaws will be the same, just smaller.  Strength training will help produce muscle mass that would otherwise be space taken up by fat.

3. Decreases chance of developing osteoporosis. Muscle mass declines as we age and the risk of developing osteoporosis ( a disease which occurs when you lose too much bone) increases. Weight training can help protect the bones and help decrease the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Post-menopausal women can lose 1-2% of their bone mass annually. Results from a study conducted at Tufts University published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that strength training increases bone density and reduces the risk for fractures among women aged 50-70. 

4. Lose inches. People often think in terms of weight loss when arguably it’s fat loss that should be the overarching goal. It’s healthier to lose inches/fat and gain muscle than to simply lose pounds. (Plus the physique will be less flabby!) According to the National Center for Health Statistics two sessions a week can reduce overall body fat by about 3 percentage points in just 10 weeks, even if you don’t cut a single calorie.

5.  Everyday activities become easier. It may sound obvious but strength training will make you stronger. Lifting heavy grocery bags, picking up your kids and even climbing the stairs will be easier. The reason for this is that when you ask the body to impose a difficult task (such as lifting a dumbbell) it responds. Muscles adapt to meet new requirements that are demanded of them and in turn you get stronger.

6. Improved mood and energy. Strength training provides similar improvements for depression as anti-depressant medications. It’s difficult to determine if this is because people feel better when they are stronger or if strength training produces a helpful biochemical change in the brain. It is most likely a combination of these factors.  Strength training also benefits the mood by helping to produce feel-good endorphins.

Beginners should consult a medical professional before starting a strength training or weight loss program.
Beth Funari is a Sports Performance and Personal Trainer with a passion for helping people meet their goals and feel their personal best. She enjoys creating delicious & healthy recipes, designing quick & effective workouts for her busy clients, reading in bed and traveling with her husband.