Discover the Life-Changing Benefits of Strength Training
Ever wonder what's so great about strength training? After all, not everyone wants to build muscle or get six-pack abs. In this case, cardio shouldn't be enough, right? Not really. You see, the benefits of strength training go beyond hypertrophy.
Weight lifting not only builds muscle but also improves insulin response, burns fat, and lowers blood pressure. Furthermore, it revs up your metabolism and balances your hormones.
The best part? With strength training, you'll get better results in less time. Forget about endless cardio sessions and crash diets! A few weeks from now on, you'll be stronger, leaner, and healthier without spending hours in the gym.
What Makes Strength Training So Effective?
Weight training is typically associated with bodybuilders and powerlifters. After all, most guys hit the gym to get ripped and build mass. However, strength training isn’t just for athletes or fitness pros. It benefits both men and women, leading to better health and well-being.
First of all, it promotes hypertrophy aka muscle growth. The more mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate. A fast metabolism makes it easier to lose fat and keep it off.
Research shows that women lift weights two to three times per week for two months can lose up to 3.5 pounds of fat and gain 1.75 pounds of lean mass. Additionally, this training method increases a woman's strength by as much as 50 percent.
Don't worry - this doesn't mean you'll bulk up once you start lifting weights. In fact, most women are afraid that resistance training will turn them into the Incredible Hulk. Nothing could be further from the truth! This workout method will shape your body from head to toe. Your arms will become firmer, your tummy will get flat, and your legs will look leaner.
Moreover, strength training improves bone density and lowers your risk of osteoporosis. It also enhances your balance and coordination, which helps prevent injuries. Plus, it strengthens the muscles around your spine and joints, leading to back and neck pain relief.
Stay Lean and Keep Your Brain Sharp
Lifting weights isn't good just for your body, but for your brain too. This training method has been shown to improve mental health, relieve depression, and decrease anxiety levels. In the long run, it boosts your cognitive skills and executive functioning. Plus, it's more effective against chronic fatigue compared to drug or cognitive-behavioral interventions.
Other studies have found that strength training can improve sleep by about 30 percent. This helps lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, hormonal disorders, cognitive impairment, and stroke. On top of that, you'll feel more confident and have a better memory.
Cardio training, by comparison, increase stress and causes fatigue. When done in excess, it elevates cortisol production, which in turn, messes up your insulin, testosterone, and growth hormone levels. Furthermore, it's not as effective for fat loss as it was once thought.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, goes up after a long cardio session. This slows your metabolism, making it harder to torch fat. It also leads to muscle loss and increases appetite.
Without a doubt, cardio works for overall conditioning. However, there are better ways to lose fat and shape your body. Not to mention that too much cardio can stall your progress and eat your hard-earned muscle. Strength training has the opposite effect.
Get Better Results in Less Time
Now that you know the benefits of weight training, you might wonder how to get started. The truth is that not all workouts are created equal. Just because you're lifting heavy, it doesn't mean you'll get results. It's HOW you train that matters.
First of all, strength training is not the same as circuit training. Going from one machine to the next and working your whole body at once will only stress your CNS (central nervous system) and cause fatigue. Sure, it's fine for overall fitness and conditioning, but it doesn't really work in the long run.
To get results, keep your workouts short and intense. High-intensity training is the key. Choose a weight that allows you to perform six to nine reps with perfect form. By the time you complete the last rep, you should reach muscle failure. As you get stronger and your body adapts, increase the load and decrease the rest period between sets.
Mike Mentzer, one of the world's most famous bodybuilders, was a huge advocate of this training style. Despite his big muscular body, he was only training twice a week. His total weekly workout time was under two hours and a half. In 1978, Mentzer won the Mr. Universe title and emerged as a pioneer in high-intensity training.
His workout style was based on progressive overload and HIIT. Progressive overload is the foundation of muscle and strength training. Basically, it involves forcing your muscles to work harder by changing workout variables, such as the amount of weight, the number of reps and sets, rest periods, lifting techniques, and more.
For example, if you can easily complete eight to 12 reps with a given weight, add more plates to the bar; otherwise, you'll hit a plateau.
You may also do fewer reps with heavier weights, take shorter breaks, or use advanced lifting methods, such as forced reps, partial reps, drop sets, and supersets. This will shock your muscles into growth and keep them guessing. Increasing workout intensity will further speed up your progress and raise your metabolism.
The bottom line is to train heavy at high intensity. You’ll not only make gains a lot faster but also spend less time in the gym. At the end of a workout, your muscles will be on fire.
High-reps are not the answer. In fact, studies show no advantage in performing multiple sets and dozens of reps. Most folks use this approach – and they look average at the best.
Short, intense workouts will ignite your fast-burning engine and skyrocket your testosterone and GH levels. With this approach, you can hit the gym just twice a week or so and still get fantastic results. Now you have no excuse to skip your workouts!
Owner of Creighton Personal Training