Six Great Reasons to Strength Train
Working on muscular strength and endurance can help you to achieve many goals related to health, fitness and weight loss.
Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight or maintain your current body composition, strength training can help you to achieve your body-focused goals while improving the way you feel. Here are a few of my favorite strength training benefits:
Weight loss. When your overall body weight is made up of a lot of lean muscle, your body needs more calories to sustain that muscle. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat and can, therefore, help you to burn a few extra calories a day at rest. However, I believe that the excitement of having more lean muscle mass goes far beyond the calorie burn, including increased strength and reduced risk of injury.
Increased lean body mass: Strength training, when combined with protein-rich foods, can help to prevent or minimize the loss of lean body mass that is typically a by-product of dieting. Quite often when people cut their daily calories in order to lose weight, the weight lost is not always healthy or sustainable. When people are dieting without exercise, they can lose body fat in addition to healthy muscle tissue, which can play havoc with your body weight long term.
Appearance: Strength training can favorably affect your overall body composition, resulting in a greater proportion of lean tissue relative to fat tissue. This can greatly enhance your overall appearance and reduce your dress size. Muscle takes up less space in the body per pound than fat, so having lean muscle mass can make you both look and feel great.
Tighter skin: Although strength training itself does not actually tighten the skin, it can make your skin look tighter, especially if you have lost a lot of body fat and are suffering from loose skin as a result. When you lose fat and build muscle, the appearance of loose and sagging skin can be greatly improved.
Antiaging: Strength training can help to counteract natural age-related muscle loss, known as sarcopenia. Losing muscle mass as we age is just a part of the aging process in the same way that we naturally lose bone density. If you continue to strength train as you age, you can keep on top of this loss. The good news is that it’s never too late to get started. Even if you have lost muscle mass as part of the aging process, you can start to train and rebuild it at any age.
Strength: The training adaptations that happen in the body as a result of strength training can greatly enhance the activities of daily living, such as lifting, standing, walking and enjoying simple activities. If you love to play sports, strength training can also help you to improve your overall performance.
Training for strength does not have to mean lifting weights. You can improve your strength with body weight exercises, resistance bands or objects that you have around the house, such as water bottles. A lot of the time, women believe that strength training means getting heavier and looking bulky, but it’s not true, unless you want to specifically get that result.
Written by Samantha Clayton, AFAA, ISSA. Samantha is Sr. Director of Fitness Education at Herbalife.