Author - Chris Tuttle, CSCS
NWS Coach & CEO
Strength training has found a sure footing in the workout regimes of people only quite recently. Until lately, the importance and benefits of it weren’t being realized, although that scenario has changed quite a bit now.
Let’s delve more into the details of how strength training works and what its benefits are.
Understanding strength training:
Strength training, as the name suggests, makes use of external resistance to drive your overall, total body strength. This concept differs from cardio exercise where you target your cardiovascular system and muscular endurance to enhance your overall conditioning or level; or in other words get in better “shape”.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, uses free weights, machines or your own body weight to help improve your ability to overcome an external force. This external force could be as simple as gravity, or a heavy object that needs to be moved. Training in this manner allows for the muscle fibers within the body to breakdown, and then be rebuilt in a stronger fashion. This may be a counterintuitive concept, but strength is built through the recovery process, rather than the actual training session. Let's take a simple example like the bicep curl. Holding a weight in your hand and curling the weight up, causes the bicep muscle to contract allowing the arm to flex and overcome the external resistance of the weight. If the weight, and the amount of time the muscle is under that stress (i.e. sets and reps) is high enough it will create small micro tears within the muscle fiber. The body will then adapt to that stimulus and repair the fibers in a stronger fashion to be able to repeat that specific task again. This, in its simplest form, is the effect of strength training. Now that we have a basic understanding of how resistance training works, let's look into its specific benefits.
What are the benefits of strength training?
- Prevents loss of lean muscle mass:
On average, men possess about 18-24% fat mass while women have close to 25-31% fat on their bodies. It doesn’t take any extra effort to put on fat mass. However, increasing your lean muscles mass takes up plenty of effort and commitment.
Also, lean muscle mass can decrease dramatically with increasing age, medications. lifestyle, and diet choices if not monitored. Strength training ensures that you can slow, or sometimes reverse that process over time. With resistance training, you can maintain or build that lean appearance and for much longer than your peers. Keeping your lean body mass in check will also improve your overall strength levels. A stronger human being can withstand the stressors of daily life that you may have struggled with before. Things like carrying groceries, moving objects, yard work, and tasks in your professional life will become easier. Furthermore a stronger person can reduce the amount of chronic pain or injuries. Following a correct strength training protocol can clear up nagging aches and pains as well as reduce the risk of future ailments. I am not saying it is a cure for all issues, but those with weaknesses in certain areas, can see tremendous improvements in overall movement quality and less pain.
- Boosts metabolic rate:
Strength training can have a significant effect on your metabolic rate. In fact, people who are trying to lose weight must incorporate a few resistance training exercises in their workout regime in order to speed up their metabolism.
In this way, you can prevent the accumulation of excess fat deposits in your body thereby giving you a leaner and fitter appearance. In addition to that, a recent study has proved that your metabolism is not just elevated while you’re working out, but also remains considerably high even after you’re done with exercising.
- Enhances cardiovascular health:
Resistance training increases blood flow all throughout your body thereby promoting a robust immunity. In fact, individuals who incorporate some form of strength training in their workout routine at least 4 times a week have 40-70% fewer chances of falling prey to cardiovascular disorders than the ones who don’t.
Also, having a quality ratio of lean body mass to body fat can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by 32% in the long run. Therefore, one can keep chronic disorders like diabetes and heart abnormalities at bay by being regular with strength training exercises.
Summing it up:
Strength training is one of the best ways to ensure that your health stays put while you channel your physical efforts in the right direction. The trick here is to be consistent and regular with your practice so that you witness the best results.