Whether we’re doing it or not, most of us recognize and understand the benefits of cardio exercises. They get our blood pumping, keep our heart strong, boost our immune system, energize us, and blast calories.
What about strength training? Do we really need it, or is it something just reserved for body builders?
The majority of people I know don’t want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. And, this is why people avoid strength training. They think that as soon as they touch a free weight or barbell they’re going to bulk up like the Incredible Hulk.
Actually, that’s far from the truth. It takes hours in the gym over a period of years in order to achieve those impressive guns. A few sets of resistance exercises two to three times per week isn’t going to turn anyone into one of the Avengers.
This raises an interesting question, though: do we really need to incorporate strength training into our weekly workouts? It may seem counterintuitive to some, particularly those who are training hard with HIIT workouts, but the fact is—we all need to add some resistance exercises into the mix.
7 Reasons Why Strength Training Is Vital To a Healthy Body
This is just touching the tip of the workout iceberg, but here are some of the top reasons why we all need to incorporate weights into our exercise routine.
1. Strong Muscles = Strong Bones
Stronger muscles mean you’ll typically have higher bone density. Some studies suggest that bone density can raise thirteen percent within six months of regular training. This means you’ll be less likely to break something if you fall, and you’ll be able to prevent or reduce the effects of osteoporosis.
2. Blast Fat for Good!
When you think of a fat-burning workout, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Cardio, right? Actually, we all need to combine our cardio with a weight training routine. Even those who promote HIIT training as the best workout ever created (by the way, HIIT pretty much rocks!) recommend incorporating some resistance exercises into the mix.
If you want to incinerate calories, you need to get those muscles burning. The stronger they are, the more they’ll burn fat and calories, and keep your metabolism revved up long after your workout.
3. Improve Athletic Performance
Whether you play sports or not, strength training is pivotal to performance. If you want to play a better game of basketball, run faster during a 5k, or want to be a more powerful cyclist you really need to include some weights.
Nearly every athlete includes strength exercises in their training routine. Doing this makes them faster and more powerful. What types of athletes utilize these exercises? Take your pick: swimmers, runners, gymnasts, ballet dancers—the list goes on and on.
4. Prevent Injury No Matter Your Age
According to an article on swimming and weight training on the US Masters Swimming website, the number one cause of injury is muscle weakness. No one wants to deal with an injury—it’s disruptive, painful, and seriously, just a pain in the butt. But, things get even more complicated as we get older. One simple fall and you could end up breaking a hip, arm, or leg. The healing process is much longer as we get older, too. Strengthening our muscles helps prevent injuries and helps us stay balanced.
5. Tone & Firm Your Body
Weight loss with cardio alone can often result in flabbiness, and no one wants that. Weight training will tone and firm your body, and it won’t bulk you up unless you start living at the gym. All you need is thirty minutes, three times per week and you’ll slowly but surely begin to notice your body getting firm and defined.
6. It Boosts Your Brain Power
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, strengthening the muscles also strengthens the brain. Apparently, resistance training can boost brain power, including memory, by approximately ten percent. In one study he references, analyzing a person’s lower body strength is “a better indicator of brain health than any other lifestyle factor.”
7. You’ll Age Slower
None of us want to get older, let alone look older, which is why there are so many anti-aging “remedies” on the market right now. Who knew that strength training can actually slow the aging process? Another article written by Dr. Mercola points to muscle strength as a great way to control aging, promote health, and prevent disease, like heart disease. Plus, you’ll look great!
Some Incredibly Effective Resistance Training Workouts You Need To Try
Choosing a workout can be kind of intimidating at first. So, here are some helpful resources to get your strength training journey started.
Strength Training plus Cardio: The Ultimate Health & Fat-Burning Fitness Combo
Weight training isn’t going to turn you into the Incredible Hulk. It will, however, help tone and firm your body, improve your health, prevent injury, and make you a more powerful athlete. For anyone looking to tone up and/or slim down, mixing three days of weight training with your regular cardio routine will help you burn fat faster than cardio alone. Combine that with eating more greens and you’ll start seeing amazing health, wellness, and fitness results!
What are your favorite strength training workouts? Let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page. I can’t wait to hear your ideas—I’m always up for trying something exciting and innovative!