"Strength Training!?...are you crazy??"

Here is a snippet of a conversation I have quite a lot, especially with women:

Client/random: “Weight training?! But I don’t want to look like Arnie (Schwarzenegger)”

Me: “Don’t worry it’s impossible. I promise you will never look anything like him” J

Client/Random: “Don’t I just need to do more Cardio”

Me: NO!

Over the years we’ve been led to believe that lots of cardio is the only way to lose weight and stay fit. It’s important, of course, but whether your passion is Zumba, running, yoga, or tennis you cannot afford to neglect the strength-training element of your weekly workout routine.

No form of cardio exercise is going to be able to replace the unique benefits of strength training,

Here’s why:

Strength Training And Muscle Mass

The very first reason to work on your strength a few times a week is to ensure you aren’t losing muscle tissue.

As we age, muscle mass loss is inevitable without regular strength training workouts. Muscle tissue is not easy tissue to gain back. This is especially true for women who naturally have low amounts of testosterone compared to men. Protecting the muscle you have already worked so hard to build is one of the most important considerations of any well-rounded fitness program.

“Why is having more muscle so important?”

If you begin losing muscle mass, your strength will decrease, meaning everyday activities will become harder and harder.

Plus, muscle plays a major role in fat burning…

While exercise does burn calories, you only workout a few hours per week. To increase fat burning you need to increase your metabolism, specifically your Resting Metabolic Rate. Those who have a higher degree of muscle mass burn more calories even when they’re at rest.1 As a person ages, metabolism naturally slows down, leading to gradual weight gain. Muscle is a great way to counterbalance the body’s natural slowdown and the earlier a person starts, the easier it will be to maintain that muscle over time.

Many people complain that the reason they’re gaining weight into the 40’s and 50’s is due to a ‘slow metabolism’, but really, that slow metabolism is happening (partly) because they are losing muscle. The muscle gains you achieve with a proper strength training program can help reverse this process and actually INCREASE metabolism!

Strength Training And Bone Health

As a person grows older, bone loss is inevitable, especially for women after menopause.2 This can lead bones to break more easily, feelings of fatigue and weakness, and reduced tolerance to physical activity. Weight-bearing exercises strengthen bones, helping minimize natural bone loss and reducing the risk of injury.3

No other exercise is more weight bearing than strength training.

Since you’ll be supporting more weight than just your body weight, you can really take your bone health to the next level. One study published in the journal of Medicine and Science in Sports And Exercise illustrated that strength training is superior in terms of combating osteoporosis compared to aerobic activity only.4

This can prevent stress fractures or bone breaks down the road, both of which could become very serious if you are into your 60’s and 70’s.

Strength Training And Disease Prevention

Strength training has been shown to provide a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.5 A Tufts University study even found that participants in a strength training program were able to see a marked reduction in arthritis pain. In fact, the study found that the end result was better than that received from medications.

Strength training can also improve a person’s mental health, reducing depression and improving sleep quality.

Strength Training And Insulin Sensitivity

Finally, the last nice thing about strength training that you must note is its impact on insulin sensitivity.

Your insulin sensitivity level is one of the key factors determining your risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a condition that’s starting to impact more and more women.

A regular strength training workout routine will help to keep your tissue cells more responsive to insulin, so should you consume carbohydrates in your diet, your body will be able to better utilize those carbohydrates, directing them towards the muscle cells rather than the body fat cells, as was noted in a study published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal.6

This helps keep you leaner as well since you’ll have a reduced rate of converting those carbohydrates into body fat stores.

It appears the primary reason for this is due to the increased lean muscle tissue development, which then increases the insulin sensitivity level.

Final Thoughts

Strength training is the single most effective form of exercise for guaranteeing good health into the future and keeping you leading an active lifestyle for years to come. Make the commitment to stay consistent with your strength training workout all it takes is 2-3 sessions per week to see all these benefits.

References:

  1. “Weight Loss.” Metabolism and Weight Loss: How You Burn Calories. N.p., 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 06 May 2014.
  2. “Aging Changes in the Bones – Muscles – Joints: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 3 Sept. 2012. Web. 09 May 2014.
  3. “Build Up Your Bones! | NIH MedlinePlus the Magazine.” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Winter 2012. Web. 09 May 2014.
  4. Layne, JE. & Nelson, ME. (1999). The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: A review. Medicine and Science in Sports And Exercise. 31(1):25-30.
  5. “Why Strength Training?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 09 May 2014.
  6. Ivy, JL. & Sherman, W.M. & Miller, W.J. (1984). Effect of strength training on glucose tolerance and post-glucose insulin response. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 16(6):539-543.




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