The Benefits of Resistance Training: Why it Should be Incorporated into Almost Everyone’s Routine
Strength training has quite literally changed my life for the better, and now I’m here to share with you all some research-based as well as some anecdotal benefits I’ve found with lifting that supports my belief that it should be included into almost everyone’s exercise program. While heavy weightlifting tends to be the focus of my personal workout program, I’m here to explain to you that simply adopting a series of bodyweight exercises into your routine can be incredibly effective in improving a wide variety of health markers. There’s a lot of misconceptions out there about strength training which steers a lot of people away from the gym, but I truly believe that if those same people had practical knowledge about fitness to begin with, they’d be more far more likely to stick a program and see tremendous progress with themselves. Here’s just a few of many benefits well-associated with resistance training that I’m hopeful will help you guys understand the value of a strength training program.
Increased Mood and Sleeping Habits
This is one of the most notable benefits I experienced early on in my start to lifting. Before I started exercising regularly I was having pretty bad issues with mood swings and an inability to sleep through the night, but just a couple of weeks into going to the gym the majority of these problems went away entirely and haven’t persisted much since. This is also supported by various studies which have shown elevated endorphin levels as a result of strength training to increase energy and mood (Craft and Perna 2004), and improved sleep patterns with regular performance (Viana et al 2012). I cannot even tell you the number of people I’ve talked to that have told me regular exercise (and especially resistance training) has had an incredibly positive impact on both their sleep as well as overall attitude towards life. If you’re someone looking to build a habit to boost your own self-belief, I highly recommend trying out various forms of strength training.
Improved Coordination and Posture
The benefits of strength training on improved body mechanics has been well-documented for many years. One study documented strength training benefits on your balance, coordination, and posture, finding that it seems to be the best strategy for improved rate of falls and fair ability in older adults (Cadore et al 2013). And even if you’re not an older adult at-risk for falling injuries, these same improvements can be beneficial to improved longevity or simply athletic performance for many years to come. This is an area I personally have focused on a lot more in recent years. Just a couple of years ago, I found myself suffering from poor posture and coordination skills, but the combination of increased muscle mass in my upper and lower body and neuromuscular improvements has been incredibly impactful in the results I’ve seen with my own body mechanics.
Burns More Calories to Aid Fat Loss
To me this is the most underrated benefit of strength training that a lot of people lose sight of when approaching their own exercise routine. Many people stick solely to cardiovascular training in an effort to lose weight, whereas lifting weights has proven to be an effective tool for increasing calories burned. According to the American Council on Exercise, strength training allows your body to burn calories both during and after a training session, in a process known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC)(McCall 2014). These additional calories burned can be an effective tool in creating a caloric deficit and aiding fat loss. And while I’m still a big advocate of using cardiovascular exercise for various health benefits, why not also incorporate lifting weights for the benefits in body composition and others mentioned in this post?
Reduced Aging Factors and Joint Pain
It’s been well-documented that as we age, even as early as 30 years old, we start to lose muscle mass at a rate as high as 3-5% in many individuals (Keller and Engelhardt 2013). Resistance training is an incredibly tool in combatting that, with one study showing strength training to be effective in reversing specific age factors and maintaining skeletal muscle in older individuals (Westcott 2012). The same study found that resistance training may be effective for reducing lower back pain and discomfort associated with arthritis. This reason is why resistance training is so critical for the older population. A problem I notice with older adults is too much focus on simply losing weight, instead of prioritizing the individual protocols (such as lifting weights) that will aid them in their fat loss goals while preserving as much lean mass as possible as our bodies age. Please do not make the mistake of neglecting resistance training for those looking to improve their longevity, and live a life with reduced skeletal injuries and a highly functional neuromuscular system.
Improved Body Composition with Muscle and Strength Gains
This is the most obvious and typically well-associated benefit of lifting weights, and is probably the main reason most people use resistance training in the first place. To me, while I have definitely seen significant muscle and strength gains since the beginning of my journey, I have fallen much more in love with the plethora of other benefits and overall value it’s added to my life. My point is here is not to use lifting solely as a purpose of getting bigger and strong, because eventually you will not see the same fast improvements that you experienced as a beginner, and many people tend to get discouraged by the slow progress. Instead, try to shift your focus to the ways it’s helping you in other areas of health and wellness, with the physical improvements being a side result of the hard work and dedication you put into your exercise program. This is how you can build a fulfilling exercise habit that becomes sustainable for a lifetime.
Hope you guys enjoyed my list of the benefits of strength training! I wanted this to serve as one of the first posts I make for this blog, because I think it’s incredibly valuable for understanding the big-picture role of exercise, outside of just the aesthetic benefits it provides. What is one benefit I didn’t have on my list that has helped you improve your life in other ways? Let me know below!