Weight training can be one of the most intimidating parts of a fitness journey; all that heavy iron spread out across the room, all those bodybuilders grunting and groaning, so many muscle groups to focus on. By comparison, cardio routines seem pretty simple; all you need is a good pair of shoes and somewhere to run!
But here’s the deal… weight training isn’t just for bodybuilders and athletes, it’s great way to start feeling and looking great. It offers many benefits; from muscle building and improving posture to even improving your mental health. If you’re actively working on getting healthier and stronger, consider consulting a personal trainer at your local gym. If you’re recovering from an injury, be sure to speak with your physical therapist or chiropractor about weight training programs that are right for you.
In this post, we’ll explain why it’s important to incorporate strength training into your exercise routine.
No matter what your individual goals are, weight training offers five key benefits for your overall health:
1. Gaining Strength
Let’s start with the most obvious one: Weight training helps you reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass which naturally diminishes with age. Be careful not to overdo it when you’re just getting started. Begin with the weight or resistance level that’s heavy enough to tire your muscles after about a dozen repetitions. According to the Mayo Clinic, a single set of 12-15 repetitions with the proper weight can build muscle efficiently and can even be as effective of three sets of the same exercise.
2. Increasing Endurance
Weight training can also help increase your endurance, or your ability to do something over an extended period-of-time without tiring. By improving cardiovascular function and the capacity of your muscles to generate energy, weight training builds muscle endurance, especially when combining lower weights or resistance with higher reps.
3. Preventing Future Injury
Strength training is key to preventing future injuries: Studies show that weight training promotes the growth and strength of ligaments, tendons, joint cartilage, and even bones. Injuries aren’t completely unavoidable, but adding a variety of weight training to your routine can help reduce the risk of occurrence and improve your ability to perform everyday activities.
4. Strengthen Bones
Speaking of bones, weight training can actually cause increased bone mineral content. Not only does this help prevent skeletal injuries, as mentioned above, but it can also play a role in slowing bone loss (osteoporosis) and building bone after injuries occur. Harvard Medical School notes that weight training has benefits beyond those offered by aerobic weight-bearing exercise because it targets bones of the hips, spine, and wrists—sites most likely to fracture.
5. Enhance Mental Health
Weight training is well known for its physical benefits, but it can also lift your mood. A review of dozens of studies found that resistance exercise has an antidepressant effect, and can even be an alternative therapy for treating depressive symptoms. Another study demonstrated that weight training helps decrease anxiety and improve brain cognition. Of course, there are the endorphins that flood your brain when you work out, but weight training may also help release stress, bring peace of mind, or increase overall-sense of self-confidence.