What's To Gain With Strength Training

 

All too often the attention on exercise tends to focus on weight loss, especially for people who are new to exercise. Weight loss is probably the most common motivator for someone to exercise in the first place, but what I want to encourage is an understanding of the benefits of exercise beyond the aesthetics. In particular, let’s talk about strength training and why it is important.

First let’s define lean mass. Lean mass is the body’s weight minus the fat. In other words, it is part of the body’s composition which factors out fat from the body’s overall weight. Too often, especially in women, there seems to be a great fear against muscles. This belief that muscle is something to run away from is probably why strength training is never important on a lot of female workout agendas. Most will really only ask about cardio because that’s what a lot of people think is the way to lose weight, but here’s the real truth: more muscle equals to an increase in metabolic rate or in other words, more muscle equals to more fat burn.  

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"...here’s the real truth: more muscle equals to an increase in metabolic rate or in other words, more muscle equals to more fat burn..."  

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Aesthetically I understand where the fear comes from because I used to have the same fear. Ironically, even though I’ve been athletic throughout my life, one of my biggest fear with strength training before was the fear of bulking up. (For those ladies who likes bigger muscles, more power to you! There’s no right or wrong to how we look but it does come down to personal preference and I prefer a leaner frame). In regards to bulk, what it comes down to is how strength training is administered, but that’s a whole other topic in itself. What I want everyone to understand now, is about what’s to gain with strength training?

#1 - Increase in metabolic rate

The truth to face is that as humans we are working against time. Aging is a real thing and the fact is each year, without training, the body loses its proportion of lean mass. “A woman who does not strength train loses about 0.5 pounds (0.23kg) of muscle each year” (329). More specifically, adults who lack resistance and or strength training “lose about 3 pounds (1.4kg) of muscle every six years” (343). One of the issues with loss of lean mass is a decrease in metabolic rate. Muscles are an active component of the body. Whether at rest, in sleep or in motion, muscle is what uses the energy we consume. Strength training results in increased lean mass (or more muscle), therefore an increase in metabolic rate.

#2 - Increase in bone mineral density 

The body works in such mysterious ways. Understanding the relationship between strength training and bone density was a revelation to my knowledge. Muscles act as shock absorbers and stabilizers in the body. When stresses are implicated to the body through strength training like lifting heavy weights, the body’s method to adapt is by increasing bone mineral density, where “studies have shown a 1% to 3% increase in BMD [bone mineral density] as a result of resistance-training program.”

 #3 - Helps to increase calorie burn at rest (when you’re not working out)

 What this means is even when you are not working out the body is burning and using the fat stored in the body for energy. Based on the research done by Hackney, Engles, and Gretebeck back in 2008, the increase in resting metabolism lasted for three days in their test group. Their research concluded that the “repair and muscle-remodeling process require increased energy for at least 72 hours following challenging strength-training session.”  

Here’s the best news of all, the benefits listed above doesn’t even factor in the added benefits during a strength training session. What’s listed above only touches on some of the post-strength training benefits, so what are you waiting for?

Source:

Bryant, Cedric X., and Daniel J. Green. ACE Personal Trainer Manual: The Ultimate Resource for Fitness Professionals. 5th ed. San Diego, CA: American Council on Exercise, n.d. Print.