Strength training should be at the top of your list if you could only make one change to your health. It entails employing a single muscle group—or many muscle groups—to carry out a particular action, such lifting a heavy object or squatting.
Strength training has been integrated into most workout routines on a fundamental level due to the rising body of research demonstrating its numerous advantages. You might be curious about the advantages of strength training if you’ve ever explored it.
What is strength training?
Weightlifting, resistance training, and muscular training are other names for strength training.
Any physical activity in which you use your own weight or tools (such as dumbbells and resistance bands) to increase your muscular growth, strength, and endurance is considered strength training.
The main types of strength training include
- Muscular hypertrophy. This style of strength training, also referred to as muscle building, promotes the growth of muscles by using moderate to heavy weights.
- Muscular endurance. This is the capacity of your muscles to continue working out for an extended amount of time. High repetitions with low weights or your own body weight are typically used in training to build muscle endurance.
- Circuit training. The exercises in this type of full-body training are cycled repeatedly with little to no rest in between.
- Maximum muscular strength. Low repetitions (often 2-6) and hefty weights are used in this kind of workout to increase your overall strength. It should only be used by seasoned exercisers who have perfected their form.
- Explosive power. Power and speed are combined throughout this exercise to increase your power output. It is typically used by skilled sportsmen to enhance their capacity for quick movements in competition.
The majority of individuals prioritize muscular endurance, circuit training, and muscle hypertrophy as part of their strength-training regimen, whereas experienced athletes often focus on strength and power training.
You can utilize a variety of equipment (or none at all) depending on the sort of strength training you want to achieve your goals, such as
- Body weight: using your own weight and the pull of gravity to execute a variety of motions.
- Free weights: Dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, and other non-machine or floor-attached exercise apparatus
- Resistance bands/loop bands: stretchable rubber bands that offer resistance Weight machines: equipment with hydraulics or adjustable weights attached to stress and resist the muscles.
- Suspension equipment: employs ropes or straps that are attached to a strong point so that a person may execute different exercises using only their body weight and gravity.
No matter what kind of strength training you do, the objective is to put your muscles under strain in order to facilitate neuromuscular responses and promote muscle growth. Your muscles will get stronger with consistent practice.
Strength training has 14 documented health benefits.
The various advantages of strength training can enhance your health.
1. Increases your strength
You get stronger when you do strength training. Gaining strength makes it much easier to carry out daily tasks like carrying heavy groceries or playing with your kids. Furthermore, by maintaining lean muscle mass, it may even support endurance athletes by enhancing athletic performance in sports that call for speed, power, and strength.
2. Burns calories efficiently
Your metabolism is increased by strength training in two different ways. First off, gaining muscle speeds up your metabolism. You can burn more calories when at rest since muscles have a higher metabolic efficiency than fat mass. Second, studies indicate that the metabolic benefits of strength training might last for up to 72 hours. This indicates that you continue to burn calories for hours or even days after your workout.
3. Reduces belly fat
An increased risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and several kinds of cancer, is linked to abdominal fat, particularly visceral fat.
Strength-training activities have been demonstrated to be effective in lowering body fat in general and in the abdomen in several studies.
4. Can help you appear leaner
You will look slimmer as you add more muscle and decrease fat.
This is because, pound for pound, muscle takes up less room on your body than fat does. As a result, even if the number on the scale doesn’t change, you might drop inches from your waist.
Additionally, a stronger and slimmer appearance is produced by reducing body fat and developing larger, stronger muscles that show off greater muscular definition.
5. Decreases your risk of falls
Strength training makes it easier for you to support your body, which reduces your chance of falling.
In fact, a study including 23,407 persons over the age of 60 found that those who engaged in a well-rounded fitness regimen that includes balance training, weight training, and functional training had a 34% decrease in falls.
Fortunately, several methods of strength training, including tai chi, weightlifting, resistance band exercises, and bodyweight exercises, have been proven to be useful.
6. Lowers your risk of injury
Your risk of injury may be lowered if you incorporate strength training into your workout regimen.
Your muscles, ligaments, and tendons become stronger, more mobile, and have a wider range of motion as a result of strength training. This can strengthen the muscles surrounding your knees, hips, and ankles to provide you more protection against injuries.
Strength training can also be used to treat muscle imbalances. For instance, if your core, hamstrings, and glutes are stronger, lifting will be easier and less likely to result in lower-back issues.
Finally, strength training reduces the risk of injury in adult and adolescent athletes.
In fact, a study with 7,738 athletes discovered that strength-training regimens cut the chance of injury by 33%. It was discovered to lessen the risk of injury in a dose-dependent way, meaning there was a 4% reduction in risk for every 10% increase in strength-training volume.
7. Improves heart health
Regular strength-training exercise has been demonstrated in several studies to lower blood pressure, lower total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and enhance blood circulation by fortifying the heart and blood vessels.
You can control your blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy body weight with the aid of strength exercise. A significant risk factor for heart disease is high blood sugar levels.
8. Aids in controlling your blood sugar levels
Strength exercise can assist persons with diabetes better control their condition and may reduce your chances of acquiring the disease.
Insulin sensitivity is increased in part by skeletal muscle. By directing glucose to muscle cells instead of the blood, it also lowers blood sugar levels. Therefore, having more muscle can aid in better blood sugar regulation.
Additionally, strength exercise may lower your risk of diabetes. According to one research that followed 35,754 women for an average of 10 years, those who conducted strength training had a 30% lower chance of acquiring type 2 diabetes than those who did not.
9. Promotes greater mobility and flexibility
Contrary to common opinion, flexibility may be improved by strength training.
Strength training extends the range of motion (ROM) of the joints, enhancing flexibility and mobility. Additionally, those with weaker muscles typically have fewer ranges of motion and flexibility.
In fact, a recent study contrasting strength training with stretching discovered that both were equally efficient in boosting range of motion.
To achieve the optimum effects, make sure you perform an exercise to its full range of motion (ROM), or, in other words, to the entire extent of your joint’s range of motion. Try lowering yourself into a squat as low as you can without losing form, for instance.
10. Increases your sense of self
Your confidence may be greatly increased by strength training.
You may appreciate your body’s strength and learn to conquer obstacles with its assistance. In particular, it can boost your self-efficacy, which is a key component of confidence and refers to your sense of ability to accomplish or succeed at a task.
In fact, a study of 7 research involving young people aged 10 to 16 found a substantial correlation between strength training and high levels of self-esteem, physical prowess, and physical self-worth.
Furthermore, a systematic study of 754 people revealed a strong connection between strength training and good body image, including body satisfaction, attractiveness, and social physique anxiety (the perception of judgment from others).
11. Bolsters bone density
Strength training is essential for the growth of bones.
Weight-bearing workouts temporarily stress your bones, which prompts bone-building cells to mobilize and strengthen your bones. Your risk of osteoporosis, fractures, and falls is decreased by having strong bones, especially as you become older.
Fortunately, strength exercise has been shown to strengthen bones at any age.
12. Boosts your mood
Regular weightlifting may elevate your mood and enhance your mental well-being.
Strength exercise may lower anxiety and improve your mood, according to several research.
Increased self-esteem and self-efficacy are only two of the many advantages that strength training has for mood management. Additionally, exercise encourages the release of endorphins, which have been shown to improve mood.
13. Improves brain health
Strength training may improve brain health and provide protection from age-related cognitive decline.
Numerous studies in older persons have shown a substantial increase in cognitive performance (such as processing speed, memory, and executive function) when compared to those who did not engage in strength training.
Resistance training is believed to provide a variety of neuroprotective benefits, including increased brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) production, decreased inflammation, and enhanced blood flow.
14. Promotes a better quality of life
Your quality of life may improve with strength training, especially as you get older.
Strength training has been associated with improved health-related quality of life, which is referred to as a person’s perception of their physical and mental health.
Resistance training really significantly correlates with improved mental health, physical functioning, pain management, overall health, and vitality, according to a study of 16 research including persons 50 years and older.
Strength training may also enhance the quality of life for those with arthritis. Strength training significantly raised ratings in pain and physical functioning, according to a study of 32 research.
How to maximize your strength training regimen
There are a few tactics you may use to maximize the benefits of your strength-training program.
Begin with the fundamentals
You should initially grasp fundamental movement patterns if you are new to strength training. You can be sure you’re exercising safely and successfully by doing this.
You might choose to start with bodyweight exercises that stress stability, balance, and fundamental movement patterns (e.g., bend-and-lift, single-leg, pushing, pulling, and rotation actions).
Exercises like bodyweight squats, single-leg stands, pushups, forearm planks, the bird dog move, and plank toe taps can be included in this.
Try incorporating external forces after you are at ease with fundamental movement patterns (e.g., weights, resistance bands, and machines). Ask a physical therapist or personal trainer for advice if you’re unclear how to utilize a piece of equipment appropriately.
Pick the right load and volume.
Depending on your fitness objectives, such as striving to gain muscle mass or improve muscular endurance, the workouts you select will vary.
You should choose a weight that enables you to accomplish 8–15 repetitions for 1-3 sets while keeping good technique in order to improve your overall muscle fitness. The weight is probably too heavy for you if you find it difficult to complete at least eight repetitions or to maintain proper technique (except in advanced lifters with strength goals). On the other hand, you should probably raise the weight if you can do 15 or more reps with ease. You must test your muscles if you want to increase your strength and muscular mass. Aiming to raise the weight, repetitions, or sets as you get stronger is referred to as progressive overload.
Avoid overdoing it
You should not be in discomfort or unable to carry out your usual activities even if some soreness the day or two following a strength-training activity is typical (this is known as delayed onset muscular soreness, or DOMS).
It’s a frequent misconception that you must feel painful after working out in order to see results. Muscular pain is not associated with increasing strength or muscle hypertrophy, either.
Instead, try to stop your sets just before you physically can no longer perform any more repetitions. This will lessen the possibility of DOMS while still providing the muscle with enough of a challenge.
Allow ample time for rest so that your muscles may recover and expand. Most people gain from two to three weekly strength-training sessions.
It’s time to start strength training if you haven’t already.
Numerous health advantages of strength training include a reduced chance of heart disease and diabetes, stronger bones, enhanced brain and mental health, and higher self-esteem.
Thankfully, strength training involves more than simply weightlifting in the gym. Your body weight, resistance bands, free weights, or even objects from around your home may all be used to complete an excellent strength-training program.
Strength training is for everyone, regardless of experience level.