6 Reasons To Incorporate Strength Training Into Your Workout
News flash: your whole workout does not at all need to revolve solely around cardio! If you want to add some spice to your workout routine, while improving your overall health, kiss your treadmill goodbye and say hello to those intimidating dumbbells. Strength training has proven to have numerous benefits for your body, and can even make your workout more fun!
- Strength training incorporates different types of resistance in order to build muscle mass, increase endurance, and keep your whole body in great shape.
- There are numerous benefits such as improving mental health, burning more calories, and reducing your risk of obtaining any cardiovascular issues.
- Low-impact training is great for people who have joint issues or are just new to exercising this way.
What is strength training?
Strength training is a type of workout that incorporates resistance in order to build muscle mass and increase endurance. You can do this by either using body weight or tools to create resistance. How you go about strength training really just depends on your personal goals, and the level of impact you want to create for yourself, which we will discuss later.
Whether it’s going to the gym, taking a strength class, or just using some dumbbells at home, there are many ways you can incorporate strength training into your workout ritual. It may be intimidating when you first pick up those weights, but once you do it a few times, it’ll definitely feel more natural.
Here are a few tips for when you start your strength training journey:
- Always stretch before and after you start an activity
- Focus on form, not the weight number
- Focus on breath; exhale as you work against resisting and inhale as you release
- Challenge muscles by slowly increasing weight when it starts to feel easy (don’t push yourself too fast)
- Give muscles time off - two to three days is the ideal number of strength training sessions per week
Benefits of strength training
Don’t let the idea of strength training scare you. Strength training has a lot of benefits beyond just building muscle. Here are 8 benefits strength training can provide:
- Burns calories efficiently
Burning calories is a given when you do any type of exercise, but did you know that with certain types of exercises you can burn more calories after you finish the workout? This is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC, which refers to the amount of oxygen the body requires to turn back to its pre-exercise state. It requires a lot of energy to cool the body down, so a higher level of EPOC helps you burn more calories to bring your oxygen back to its normal level.
That being said, numerous studies have shown that resistance training has been found to actually create a higher level of EPOC than aerobic training, which can help burn calories more efficiently.
- Boosts energy levels and improves your mood
Any type of exercise increases the body’s endorphins, leading to a happier state of being. However, The National Library of Medicine reports that participating in more strength training-based workouts can actually have a greater anxiolytic effect than other types of workouts. This means that including more resistance training in your routine can aid in your body producing a higher amount of endorphins, thus lessening anxiety, stress, and other mental health issues.
Resistance training can also contribute to mood boosts since they provide the act of committing to a goal, building habits, and creating a routine. One of the great things about strength training is that there is always a new level you can work to attain, in terms of weight or resistance.
- Helps you develop better body mechanics
Having strong muscles in every part of your body is essential in maintaining coordination and balance. This is especially important because as you age, you start to lose bodily functions, so incorporating weight training at least once a week helps to reverse the natural weakening of bones and muscle mass throughout the body.
Strength training also increases the connection between the body and its nerves, which increases the effectiveness of the movement pattern (ORIGYM). This increase in connection leads to faster reflexes, increased strength, and even flexibility.
- Improves cardiovascular health
Pumping up your workout benefits your cardiovascular health, too. Lifting weights and doing any type of strength training really gets the blood flowing, which contributes to better overall circulation throughout your whole body. Strength training also increases lean muscle mass which provides a place for your cardiovascular system to send the blood being pumped. This creates a stronger cardiovascular system that significantly reduces your risk of strokes, high blood pressure, or heart attacks.
- Aids in managing blood sugar levels
If you struggle with managing your blood sugar levels, or have Type two Diabetes, then you need to try strength training. Your muscles are the main place where sugar and carbohydrates are stored.
According to a source from “everyday health,” they state that trained muscles have the capacity to store blood glucose in the form of glycogen, aiding in lowering blood glucose (Everyday Health). This means that people that incorporate resistance training into their weekly routine have been shown to have lower blood sugar and have an easier time managing their levels.
- Builds overall confidence
People work out for a multitude of reasons, such as becoming physically and mentally healthier. Working out can have an effect on both the body and mind and overall increase your own level of confidence.
I’m sure you have all heard the saying “look good, feel good.” Even though strength training has many other benefits, one of its main ones is that it can help you lose weight while also helping tone. The difference between aerobic and resistance workouts is that when you use weight, you’re actually replacing fat with lean muscle instead of just getting rid of it.
Another way that strength training can build overall confidence is by improving your mental health. Incorporating this training makes you feel more mentally engaged and boosts your serotonin levels. This is found to be directly correlated to having higher self-esteem and overall confidence.
Low-impact strength training
Once again, strength training does not mean you need to go to the gym and lift the heaviest weight you can find. There’s a difference between low-impact and high-impact strength training, and either is great.
Many people can benefit from low-impact strength training, especially those with joint issues, or injuries. Or it can simply benefit anyone who is new to working out and wants to take things slow.
Low-impact strength training has been proven to help develop kinesthetic awareness, improve bone density, improve cognition, and boost well-being. To incorporate this into your workout routine, start by performing some standard beginner-friendly exercises and just add some form of light resistance. It can be as light as two-and-a-half pound dumbbells, or even just your body weight.
Wherever you are in your workout journey, or even if you are just getting started, keep going! I know it can be difficult to stay consistent and not give up, but I promise you that the benefits of exercise are so great for your overall health and well-being. Incorporating strength training into your routine will add some variation into your day, as well as provide you with all the amazing benefits.
Written by Emma Carlson
- Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash