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. 

Top Five Ways to Avoid Cold Weather Weight Gain

It’s no secret that people tend to fall into less than healthy eating and fitness habits as the weather turns colder. Motivation to hit the gym wanes and tempting treats seem to be everywhere. Between halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and all the social events that surround these there are plenty of excuses to indulge.

The truth is it’s much easier to prevent weight gain than to be in a position where you have a few extra pounds to lose. Plus, who doesn’t want to look good and feel confidant in their halloween costume and during the holidays while catching up with family and friends?

Studies show that adults tend to gain one or two pounds between November and January. This doesn’t sound like much but the issue is that many people don’t lose that weight and it accumulates over time.

Whether you’re a professional who’s job is to help others stay healthy, or you’re trying to manage your own weight here are the top five ways to avoid cold weather weight gain:

1. Treat exercise like an appointment. Leaving work after sunset is a reality for most people after day light savings time rolls around, and we turn the clocks back. The shorter days combined with lack of sunlight can be demotivating. It’s tempting to skip the gym and head home to the couch but do that enough and it’ll certainly add up. Treat your planned workouts like any other can’t-miss meeting or appointment and you’re more likely to stick with a routine. Write them in your day planner, iPhone calendar or whatever is most likely to help you commit.

2. Sleep more.  It make seem counterintuitive to rest when your to-do list is mounting, but sleep is a key component to maintaining a healthy weight. Research shows that sleep deprived people are more likely to indulge in high calorie and fattening foods. In fact in one study when subjects were lacking quality shut-eye potato chips and sweets stimulated stronger responses in a part of the brain that helps govern the motivation to eat.  Food is that much more tempting when we’e overtired and lacking willpower.

3. Be Picky. Decide which indulgences are worth it and what you can do without. Enjoy the special treats but avoid developing a decadent dessert every night habit just because it’s cold out. At parties skip the stuff that you can have anytime, and choose the special once-a-season treats. For me, I enjoy my mother in law’s rich chocolate, caramel covered pretzels once or twice a year around the holidays and enjoy every bite. The candy bars and packaged stuff that’s available all year just isn’t worth the extra calories.

4. Weigh yourself regularly. Unwanted weight is less likely to sneak up on you if you’re tracking it. You don’t need to be obsessive but a weekly weigh in is a good idea. 

5. Wear fitted clothes. Oversized sweaters, roomy pants and changing into your sweats after work can leave you feeling… well, relaxed. Sure, it’s nice to unwind and get cozy but your comfortable clothes make it easier to overeat, and gain weight without realizing it. Ladies, this isn’t the time to put away the skinny jeans. And guys should keep tabs on that belt buckle. Assessing how your more form fitting clothes feel is a good strategy to make sure you aren’t gaining unwanted weight.

These small efforts can add up to big results and help prevent cold weather weight gain.


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.