What is strength? Before we talk about all the benefits of strength training we should talk about what strength is. First, I want to say that it is not your 1 rep max on a lift. Strength is much more than just lifting weights. A great well known coach, Pavel, defines strength as the ability to generate force under given conditions. I like this definition because in life we are put in a variety of conditions that we should be able to manage. Strength is the foundation of other physical attributes such as endurance, power, speed, and agility. Without adequate strength then these other physical attributes suffer in performance.
I use the gym to train my body to be strong in multiple planes of motion. This will prepare me to be able to handle different conditions real life has to offer. Great example is playing with my kids in the backyard. We run around and jump, hop, climb, spin, carry, and throw balls around. This is putting my body in a lot of different positions. My body needs to have strength to handle these positions or it is at risk of experiencing some aches and pain and a lot of soreness the next day. I will say this again, strength is much more than how much weight you can lift in the gym. Strength in other terms, how well can my body move in different positions without breaking down?
Now that I defined strength and I hope I gave you a good picture on what strength can mean, let’s talk about benefits. The list of benefits of strength training is huge and I will list most of them but will only talk in detail for just a couple of them.
Benefits of Strength Training:
- Builds muscle
- Hormone optimization
- Strengthen bones
- Faster metabolism
- mood/mental health
- Fat loss
- Energy levels
- Brain health
- Lower risk of chronic disease
- Type 2 diabetes, control blood sugar levels
- Increase Insulin Sensitivity
- Sleep quality
- Better body image
- Immune system increases
- Lower injury risk
Wow, look at that list! Huge list of benefits and the majority of it is not about how you look. You are at a greater risk of health issues if you do not strength train. If you look at the risk to benefit ratio, the benefits of strength training far outweigh any risk of potential injury you might endure. Your quality of life can increase, especially the older you get the benefits become even greater! Athletes can see performance increases from strength training, that is well known, but your day to day life activities can see improvement as well. For the older population, walking can become easier, joint health increases with better mobility, and the ability to squat to the toilet without assistance is huge for the older population. They can also see a decreased risk of falling and getting hurt when they are stronger and able to move faster.
Let us continue with the health benefits of strength training. Multiple studies have shown that with proper strength training that you can manage your blood sugar levels better. Building muscle and getting stronger from resistance training can increase your sensitivity for insulin. Insulin is the hormone that your body uses to manage blood sugar levels, so it gives a signal to your muscles to absorb the sugar from the blood. After a hard bout of exercise your muscles depletes its stored glycogen levels, sugar, so the muscles are like a sponge and absorb the sugar from the blood to replenish its storage. This is a highly simplified way to explain this but the important message is that your body is more efficient with your blood sugar. Those who are type 2 diabetic can highly benefit from this efficiency. They would be able to use less insulin medication to have the same benefits. If you are pre-diabetic, with proper nutrition and strength training you will be able to avoid and prevent becoming full on diabetic.
I have given a couple examples on how beneficial strength training is for your health, and I gave a pretty long list of how it can benefit as well. If you are interested, there are many articles going into detail on how strength training is beneficial for your mental health, hormones, and etc.
Strength training might seem a little intimidating, but again the benefits are huge and no one is paying attention to you in the gym. Before you go to the gym, you will need a plan. Having a plan of action will greatly increase your benefits and you will not seem lost while there. When you go in with a plan, that feeling of feeling intimidated will dissipate and confidence will increase. If you need help figuring out a plan for the gym check out my site for Training Options. Guessing on what to do will lead to frustration and quitting and that’s the last thing you want to do. Sticking with a good program, being consistent and progressing will see great results in your health and physical appearance.