Would you like to burn more calories while you sleep? Feel and look younger? Resist disease? Be happier? Live with less pain?
Strength training gives you all of these benefits and more. It obvious that regular strength training results in strong, toned muscles. But exercise that involves resistance is not just for bodybuilders with bulging biceps. Strength training is a crucial, often overlooked, component of anyone’s health and wellness plan. If you are nervous or unsure about how to begin strength training, rest assured, there are many forms of resistance exercise, such as functional bodyweight exercises, TRX Suspension Trainers, kettle bells, and barbells. There is truly something for everyone. If you are already strength training but feel you have reached a plateau, now may be the time to change up your routine and try a new modality.
By challenging your body through resistance training, you will reap many benefits, including:
Increased resting metabolic rate. Resting skeletal muscles are responsible for more than 25% of the body’s caloric expenditure. And muscles that are frequently challenged require extra energy to repair and grow stronger. Studies show that an individual’s resting metabolic rate increases by 8-9% for three whole days after an intense resistance workout (Hagerty, Engels, and Gretebeck, 2008). So yes, strength training really does help you burn more calories, even while you sleep!
Reduced body fat. Increasing your lean muscle mass through regular strength training improves your body’s ability to burn fat. By increasing lean muscle and lowering body fat, you reduce your risk factors for cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. And, of course, your favorite jeans will look and feel better!
Reversed signs of aging and reduced pain. A 2007 study (Melov) of older adults who performed 6 months of circuit strength training showed positive adaptations in 179 genes associated with age and exercise. Their muscles resembled those of younger individuals. In addition, those who strength train regularly report experiencing less back pain and reduced arthritis pain.
Increased bone mineral density. This lowers susceptibility to osteoporosis and fractures.
Happiness! Numerous studies have shown that exercise increases the body’s release of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good chemicals. Specifically, resistance training has been proven to decrease depression (Martins et al. 2011).
If you’re new to strength training, be sure to consult with a professional to learn how to exercise safely. A personal trainer can guide your workouts to ensure good posture and form, as well as implement a program that allows for well balanced muscle development, which will help you avoid injury and get great results.