Whether you’re aiming to lose weight or simply get into shape, you need to increase your level of physical activity. Although cardio is important, far too many individuals forget strength training — a critical aspect of anything effective workout plan. This is especially important for women, as they often avoid weight training.
It’s important to understand that strength training does not necessarily mean you’ll ‘bulk’ up. Of course, strength training helps reduce muscle loss, but it also improves bone mass, balance, and overall health — all while promoting fat loss. No matter your age or end goal, everyone should participate in some form of regular strength training.
Why Start Strength Training?
If you’re wondering what the benefits of strength training are — here are just a few reasons to start:
- Improve everyday functioning — When your muscles are naturally stronger, everything is easier on a day-to-day basis. Cleaning, carrying groceries, playing with your kids, and the list goes on. Remember, your muscles work hard to keep you upright and moving, so you need to protect them.
- Boost stability — As you would imagine, the stronger your muscles, the more stable you’ll be. This is also due to improved posture, helping you maintain balance — which also reduces your risk of injury. For those who suffer from back pain, strength training can also help alleviate symptoms.
- Build muscle and increase bone strength — Of course, you will increase lean muscle mass, which actually helps you burn more calories while at rest. The same is true for your bones, as you will reduce your risk of brittle bones — preventing osteoporosis later on in life.
From an increased metabolic rate to reduced blood pressure, strength training will not only enhance weight loss efforts, but promote optimal health. What does the research have to say?
Studies Show the True Effectiveness of Strength Training
A wide range of studies have been performed, which have all focused on the benefit of strength training. Although you may be keen on cardio, one study, published in Obesity, found that men who performed 20 minutes of weight training on a daily basis, experienced a smaller increase in belly fat, in comparison to men who focused on cardio for the same period of time.
This effect has been reported time and time again. Within another study, published in Current Sports Medicine Reports, it was reported that inactive adults lose around 3 to 8 percent muscle mass per decade. After ten weeks of strength training, lean muscle mass increases by 1.4 kg, fat is reduced by 1.8 kg, and one’s resting metabolic rate increases by 7 percent.
Begin strength training twice weekly, as this will not be such a shock to your system. It’s important to remember, regardless of your current fitness level, you need to allow your body to recover after training. If you’re strength training every day, you could actually break down muscle.
This is what’s known as post-workout recovery. You need rest in order to maximize results, all while reducing your risk of short and long-term injury. Before you begin training, warm up your muscles as well — as this will help relieve any tension. Then after you workout, ensure you eat clean sources of protein.
When you eat protein, you’re essentially feeding your muscles. So, the muscle mass you gained will be maintained, helping you stimulate beneficial muscle growth and fat loss. If your goal is to lose weight, you also need to eat well and explore your supplementation options.
This combination, will help you achieve results more rapidly and as you build new, healthier habits, you will be able to not only lose weight, but maintain a healthy weight long-term. It’s all about practicing sustainable methods, ensuring effective weight loss for years to come.
So, regardless of your end goal — strength training should be incorporated into all fitness routines. Supporting the development and growth of lean muscle mass will help you achieve positive health, especially in terms of your cardiovascular system. As you begin to lose fat and gain muscle, you’ll feel more confident — knowing that all your hard work has paid off.