I told a guy I work with about my intensions to start strength training this week… and he asked me why. Why strength train? I’ve not really thought about this much this time around, as strength training has just become a part of my training in recent years. I guess it’s become a form of cross training to compliment my running and to give me a goal other than running distances or times.
It’s helped me to lose weight and maintain my weight and it’s given me something else to focus on. Lifting weights, and heavy ones at that, gives me a great workout, makes me strong and makes me feel great.
Anyway, I came across this on the Greatist: 20 reasons to start strength training, and thought I’d share it with you:
Want a life with less stress, better sleep, a toned body, and an extra dose of optimism? Then don’t live another day without strength training! The benefits of routinely pumping iron can go above and beyond getting buff n’ tough.
1. Rev metabolism. After a few dates with some dumbbells, both guys and gals will notice an increase in resting metabolic rate. And with the right diet, routine lifting may even help shed a few pesky pounds more effectively than cardio alone. More muscle = more calorie burn at rest, so get pumping iron to aid weight loss and improve strength.
2. Tone up. Whether the goal is bulking up or leaning out, there’s a lifting regimen that will deliver optimal results. Remember that muscle mass also declines as we age, and while weight training can be effective for virtually all ages, consider picking up those dumbbells in your body’s prime.
3. Bulletproof the body. Lifting weights is key to staying injury-free. A little weighted action works out the tendons and ligaments that support our muscles— making sports and other daily movin’ and groovin’ worry-free! It also helps in everyday activities like carrying shopping, babies and other heavy things!
4. Fight the blues. Need a new happy pill? Research suggests resistance training can release happiness-helping endorphins and help keep anxiety at bay.
6. Beat out boredom. Muscles need time to recover, so switching up that strength training routine is a must. Give the legs some love on one day, and follow with upper-body action the next. Working out will never get repetitive!
7. Boost self-esteem. Exercise the ego: Lifting can help improve a person’s body image. Plus, it feels great to track progress and see gains in weight and reps.
8. Up that I.Q. Hitting the books isn’t the only way to pass that exam— strength training can also sharpen the mind (no pencil sharpener necessary).
9. Strengthen bones. Grab some weights to avoid getting stuck in a sling. Those bones will toughen up, which will lower the risk for fractures. After all, not everyone’s up for chugging three glasses of milk a day.
10. Lose the limitations. Drop down and give me 20— anywhere. Resistance training doesn’t require a gym membership, let alone a set of dumbbells or fancy machines. There are plenty of ways to strength train right at home with little to no equipment.
Bodyweight exercises such as the following done in circuit format are good too: Stadium Sprints, Long Jumps, Track Sprints, Box Jumps, Burpees, Power Jumps, Bear Crawl, Hurdle Jumps, Squat Thrusts, Heismans.
Or see here for my Crazy Intense Workouts ( a bit like Metafit, but a bit crazier).
11. Perk up that ‘tude. Unhappy at work? Studies show lifting can have psychological benefits, including feeling more positive at the office. No need to call in “sick” ever again!
12. Increase flexibility. There are other ways to get limber besides yoga (although we do love a little downward dog). Over time, resistance training can help improve flexibility; lifting every other day for eight weeks is all it takes.
13. Cut down cancer risk. One study found strength training three times a week for six months led to reduced oxidative stress, which can lessen our cancer risk. So get lifting and fuel up with antioxidants to double-team disease.
14. Amp up productivity. Losing focus at work? Squeezing in some desk-side reps can help make deadlines a breeze while fine-tuning those time management skills.
16. Catch those zzz’s with ease. There are many well-known remedies to help us fall asleep— like sipping herbal tea and taking a hot shower. And while exercise in general has been shown to help make snoozing a breeze, studies suggest weight lifting in particular can lead to a better night’s sleep.
17. Build trust and relate to others. We often need spotters, especially at the bench press (a bar to the face or neck is never good). Naturally, relying on others for our own safety in the gym can instill trust in a kick-butt kind of way.
18. Jump-start power. Eager to improve performance in the gym and on the track? An extra dose of dumbbells can really work fast-twitch muscles, the speedy muscle fibers responsible for generating power.
19. Sneak in some cardio. Hate the dreadmill? A fast-paced resistance workout can keep the heart rate up and can even count as cardio (provided those sets move along at a quick enough clip). Body weight workouts like Metafit and Functional Training can help improve running times too.
20. See results… fast. Need one final incentive to hit the weights? Strength training can offer speedy results. It takes two to three weekly sessions (for less than a month!) to see muscles shape up. Can’t bench press 200lbs? Not to worry: Lifting lighter weights can also be effective at building muscle, as long as those lifts are tough enough to cause muscle fatigue.
Time for you to weigh in and get strong!
What are your favourite strength training exercises? And which ones do you dread the most?
Here are mine: My new Strength workout