When you hear the phrase “strength training,” you may think of bodybuilders or cross-fitters—in other words, people trying to gain muscle and lift really heavy things (which is super cool).
But there are other, more important reasons to lift weights: to be able to perform daily activities with ease and without injury, which is especially important as you age (anyone over 30!). Think of the heaviest thing you’ll lift in a day. For some it may be a 25-30-pound toddler; for others it’s a bag of mulch or a gallon of milk. As we age, after about 30-40 years (it’s different person to person), we start to lose muscle, earlier for women than men. It’s important to incorporate strength training into your exercise routine sooner than later, to maintain the muscles we do have or to regain muscle lost due to in-activity and the absence of regular strength training.
Strength training exercises are simply those that build muscle. There are a variety of strength training exercises, including resistance training, weight training, and body weight exercises.
Strength training can improve your overall health and wellness. It can also aid weight loss, boost your heart health, strengthen your bones, and more!
Build Healthy Bones
Strength training does more than build muscular strength; it is also crucial for bone development.
As we age, our bones become more fragile. Along with losing muscle mass, this part of aging makes strength training for women and men more important by the day.
Strength training increases bone density, which makes your bones healthier and helps them carry more weight. So, whether it’s your legs, hips, or wrists, this training gives your bones the strength and stability that lead to better wellness and overall health.
Burn Calories More Efficiently
All exercise helps boost your metabolism, but strength training is particularly effective.
Building muscle increases your metabolic rate, meaning that you will burn calories more efficiently. In fact, if you build muscle mass, you can continue to burn additional calories hours and even days after your workout while you’re recovering (aka sore) or even while you’re sleeping!
See Results in Your Appearance
Many women fear strength training because they don’t want to be “bulky.” I’m here to tell you that doing the right kinds of strength workouts will not turn you into the incredible Hulk—or She-Hulk. You’re only going to get bulky if it’s your overall goal and, in my opinion, you must intentionally lift very heavy (not hand weights or body weight) and eat an incredible amount of protein to bulk up.
Strength training is the most effective way to burn fat and gain muscle. Rather than appearing “bulky,” building lean muscle mass and burning fat will make you appear toned. Even if you don’t see results on the scale, muscle takes less space on your body pound for pound, allowing you to lose inches off your waist.
When combined with the proper diet, you can lose fat and see real results in your appearance.
Experience Benefits Beyond the Physical
When you begin your strength training workout routine, you’ll reap more benefits than just the physical. In other words, you won’t just look better—you’ll feel better, too.
The fact that exercise produces endorphins is not new information. However, strength training has been known to have an especially positive effect on the brain.
Studies show that strength training may boost your mood, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and mental health. So, you’ll find yourself with more energy and confidence, less stress and anxiety, an overall positive vibe, and a better thought life.
Develop Better Body Mechanics
Strength training also benefits your balance, coordination, and posture.
As you strengthen your core, you improve your balance and coordination. Balance and coordination are crucial for lowering your risk of falling or injury.
Chances are, if you’re an iPhone user or spend your day hunched over working on a computer at work, then you may have developed poor posture. However, if you want to stand a little taller and prevent neck or back pain, strength training also improves posture!
Strength training does not mean you have to lift heavy weights! There are plenty of other workout programs out there that can get you lean and toned, allowing you to reap the many benefits of strength training.
My best advice is simply to START! Aim for two strength workouts a week if you’re a beginner, then add a third the next month. Our goal is to exercise for (at least) 150 minutes every week, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s just 30 minutes, five times a week. Slowly build up to that weekly exercise goal as you are training for the life you want to live, one that is healthy and strong!