Fitness trends come and go and most fall to the wayside for good reason. Most programs fail to produce consistent results. It’s a wonder why so many folks stray away from what is tried and true when it comes to exercise programs?
“The rule is: the basics are the basic, and you can’t beat the basics” -Charles Poliquin
Despite what your goals may be, every individual can benefit from physical resistance training. Not only that, but the health benefits extend far beyond your short term fitness goals. Regardless of why you train, let’s take a look at some of the reasons you should incorporate strength training into your fitness regimen.
1. Training for strength produces results.
Whatever your goals, muscle will help you get there. Some companies in the fitness industry have made a fortune around buzzwords like “tone”, “lift”, and “sculpt.” The problem is there’s no way to measure these loose terms. If you want to change your body composition, there is only the ability to gain or lose muscle while simultaneously gaining or losing fat. If you are looking for the most efficient way to do that and make a change, then strength training is your best option.
Strength training, or physical resistance training, can be defined as a type of physical exercise specializing in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction, which builds the strength, anaerobic endurance, and size of skeletal muscles. When you gain muscle you increase your bodies basal metabolism (the amount of calories you burn each day before factoring in physical activity). It’s kind of like putting a bigger engine in a car. The car is capable of moving faster or pulling a heavier load (more muscle), but it also uses more fuel (fat) whether it’s cruising down the freeway or idling in the driveway. Strength training helps us “tone” through this muscle gain/fat loss trade.
2. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” -Peter Drucker
Training for strength provides a clear path for success. You can set training goals that are specific, measurable, and produce desired outcomes. A good coach will help you design a plan towards these goals with checkpoints along the way. Your strength training program is a road map to success with clear directions. Sets, reps, and weights lifted safely through the full range of motion are the signals that you’re on track. Many people find that a more detailed plan helps them stay motivated as they experience progress.
3. Age gracefully with more muscle mass.
As we get older strength training is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Physical independence is a key factor in a great quality of life. A comprehensive study of strength training has been proven to:
- Improve motor function
- Lower resting heart rate
- Increase stamina
- Prevent sarcopenia (age related muscle loss)
- Improve bone mineral density
- Prevent and help rehab injuries
Functional strength training will be an asset in daily life too. From picking up grandchildren or bags of groceries to climbing stairs with confidence.
4. You’ll experience epic brain gains.
Did you know that lifting weights can strengthen your brain just as much as it does your body?
Dr. Yorgi Mavros from the University of Sydney has found that high‐intensity physical resistance training results in significant improvements in cognitive function, muscle strength, and aerobic capacity in older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Adults who followed a resistance training routine in addition to cognitive training performed significantly better than control groups on a series of mental tests. A couple key factors to note:
- The participants exercised 2x/ week working to at least 80% of their peak strength.
- The benefits lasted one year after the exercise prescription had ended.
What does that mean? According to Yorgi, “The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.” Let that sink in for a minute. You actually grow your brain by training to become stronger! It makes me wonder if Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity in between heavy sets of back squats…
5. Strong moms have healthy babies.
During pregnancy, the question always arises of what does fitness look like for this stage of life? With so much on the line, it’s important to consult with a doctor before beginning any fitness routine. However, there is a tremendous amount to be gained by incorporating a strength training routine under normal circumstances. Resistance training can help alleviate symptoms and improve health outcomes for the mother and child. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who follow a consistent strength training routine during pregnancy can experience:
- Reduce backaches, constipation, bloating and swelling
- Boosted mood and energy levels
- Better sleep
- Prevent excess weight gain
- Maintain levels of muscle strength and endurance
- Reduced incidence of gestational diabetes
Not only that but women who train during pregnancy report enhanced body image and better psychological well-being!