When you walk into your gym, do you find yourself wandering around the weight section not knowing what to do? Do you quickly make a b-line for the cardio machines where you feel more at home? Or do get scared by the extreme body builders grunting and slamming down their weights? Let’s change that mindset towards strength training and build your confidence the next time you enter the gym! Remember, strength training is for EVERYONE. Not only are the aesthetic benefits great (clothes fitting better, muscle tone peeking through) but there are so many more amazing benefits that will add to your overall quality of life. Here are the top 5 reasons you should make strength training a part of your life.
As we age, our muscles naturally start to atrophy, or reduce in size. Along with this, our bone mass decreases. This typically happens around age 30. However, I have some good news! We can reverse both of these processes with a regular strength training routine. Lifting weights can aid in the increase of bone density which can help slow or reverse the effects of osteoporosis. In a 2014 Journal of Family and Community Medicine study, just 12 weeks of strength training with squats increased lower spine and femur (thigh) bone mineral density by 2.9 and 4.9 percent, respectively. Think of it this way, strength training could give you a dose of that fountain of youth you’ve been searching for!
Muscle mass is a major determiner of our basal metabolic rate, or the number of calories the body burns at rest each day just to sustain your basic physiological functions. As your body becomes more efficient at burning fat, this contributes to maintaining a healthy body weight and body composition. When our body is at rest, our muscle mass burns more calories than our fat content does. Therefore, as we increase our muscle mass, we are increasing the amount of calories our body is burning at rest. Think of it this way, our muscle mass can be our own little personal fat burner!
Strength training will help to improve your form and mechanics of functional movements that are part of your daily life. These daily tasks include getting out of bed, going up stairs, lifting your kids or pets up, carrying the groceries in, or simply sitting down to go to the bathroom. Strength training benefits your balance, coordination, and posture. With better balance, we are less likely to fall and hurt ourselves. Our muscles also help to support our joints and tendons. If a muscle is too weak, it puts more stress on its connecting tendon and can result in tendonitis and other injuries. Another aspect to quality of life is mobility. By taking your joints through their full range of motion during strength exercises, you can increase that range of motion over time. You will avoid tearing or straining muscles with mobility backed by strength.
Remove that frustrating scale and replace those weight goals with strength goals! Goals such as how long you can hold a plank, or mastering your first pull up, can be so much more rewarding and fulfilling than a number on a scale. In fact, as our body composition changes from fat to muscle, the scale may not even budge, but in the meantime, you’re dropping 2 or 3 pant sizes! So, one of the benefits to strength training is not having to worry so much about that number on the scale and focusing more on all of the cool new things you can do, or the everyday movement you can do better, and how you feel doing them!
Along with all of these other wonderful benefits, you will start to notice an increase in confidence as you’re holding your body stronger and straighter, and you can lift things you’ve never been able to before. You know that “runner’s high” that people talk about? Well it’s a real thing, and it can come from strength training as well! Those endorphins are released inside your body and can instantly boost your mood. High-intensity strength training increases the flow of blood, oxygen and other nutrients to the brain. Recent studies have shown strength training also improves symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety. By providing an opportunity to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment, and increasing mental resiliency, strength training improves mental health for the young and old.
So, there you have it! If you weren’t strength training before today, hopefully you now see some of the many benefits that strength training has to offer. At Premier Fitness Camp, we coach our clients through Strength Training 101, help them navigate through the gym, correct them on their form throughout the week, and coach them through preparing their own strength training workout for their journey home. You don’t need much to get started! You can strength train with the simplicity of just your body weight or a full gym of equipment. You can start with 2-3 strength training sessions a week, 20-30 minutes each. You may not notice all of these benefits at once, but they will come! If you get stuck in a rut, change up your routine. You can do this by switching up the number of sets or reps, time between sets, choosing different exercises, and varying your speed are just a few suggestions. Use your resources here at PFC when you need any sort of help or support, we’re always here for you! Remember to set goals for yourself, have fun, and enjoy the improvements to your quality of life.