Besides the well-touted (and frequently Instagrammed) benefit of adding tone and definition to your muscles, how does strength training help? Here are just a few of the many ways:
1. Strength Training Makes You Stronger and Fitter
This benefit is the obvious one, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. “Muscle strength is crucial in making it easier to do the things you need to do on a day-to-day basis,” Pire says — especially as we get older and naturally start to lose muscle.
Strength training is also called resistance training because it involves strengthening and toning your muscles by contracting them against a resisting force. According to the Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine, there are two types of resistance training:
- Isometric resistance involves contracting your muscles against a nonmoving object, such as against the floor in a pushup.
- Isotonic strength training involves contracting your muscles through a range of motion, as in weight lifting.
2. Strength Training Protects Bone Health and Muscle Mass
Likewise, the HHS physical activity guidelines note that, for everyone, muscle strengthening activities help preserve or increase muscle mass, strength, and power, which are essential for bone, joint, and muscle health as we age.
3. Strength Training Helps Your Body Burn Calories Efficiently
All exercise helps boost your metabolism (the rate your resting body burns calories throughout the day).
But when you do strength, weight, or resistance training, your body demands more energy based on how much energy you’re exerting (meaning the tougher you’re working, the more energy is demanded). So you can amplify this effect depending on the amount of energy you put into the workout. That means more calories burned during the workout, and more calories burned after the workout, too, while your body is recovering to a resting state.
4. Strength Training Helps Keep the Weight off for Good
Because strength training boosts excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, it can also help exercisers boost weight loss more than if you were to just do aerobic exercise alone, Pire says. “[Resistance or strengthening exercise] keeps your metabolism active after exercising, much longer than after an aerobic workout.”
5. Strength Training Helps You Develop Better Body Mechanics
“Balance is dependent on the strength of the muscles that keep you on your feet,” Pire notes. “The stronger those muscles, the better your balance.”
6. Strength Training Can Help With Chronic Disease Management
For the more than 30 million Americans with type 2 diabetes, strength training along with other healthy lifestyle changes can help improve glucose control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a study published in June 2017 in Diabetes Therapy.
7. Strength Training Boosts Energy Levels and Improves Your Mood
And we all know a better night’s sleep can go a long way in keeping mood up.
8. Strength Training Has Cardiovascular Health Benefits
Along with aerobic exercise, muscle-strengthening activities helps improve blood pressure and reduce risk of hypertension and heart disease, according to HHS.
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