For many, strength training still carries an aura of mystery around it. There is a popular belief that strength training is only for those who want to build muscle mass. While there is an essence of truth here, this is not the only benefit. In fact the benefits of strength training are such that there is not one single type of person that could not benefit from incorporating some form of strength training into their exercise regime. In this post we have rounded up 5 benefits of strength training that might surprise you.
1. You Can Eat More
Increased muscle mass means an increased BMR (basal metabolic rate). Your BMR is the rate at which you burn and use calories in a rested state. Everyone needs a certain amount of calories per day to function and this amount is influenced by a range of different factors such as height, weight, lifestyle and more importantly muscle mass. Muscles need calories as fuel, meaning those with more muscle mass can eat more calories without them being stored as fat. While cardio is great for burning calories instantly, consistent weight training will allow you to burn more calories while you are resting. In addition, strength training has a much greater level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption than cardio meaning when you finish a weightlifting session your body needs to work harder to bring itself back to a normal state (the way it was before you worked out). This takes a lot of energy, and some studies have shown that it can boost your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you finish your workout.
2. Confidence & Self Esteem
All exercise, cardio vascular or strength releases endorphins, aka the “happy hormone”. However strength training has been known to significantly increase confidence and self-esteem. While there is no hard science to back this point, many who have incorporated strength training into their exercise regime have commented that this new strength and ability has boosted their confidence outside of the gym.
3. Fat Loss
This point is closely linked to the first point re BMR. In addition to this, lifting weights actually burns a considerable amount of calories in the gym, contributing to fat loss.
4. Cognition / Brain Function
A study at the University of British Columbia has shown that weight training, over other forms of training such as cardio, has a positive effect on brain functions which include attention, memory and higher-order brain functions like conflict resolution. This is due to higher levels of receptor/effector communication, motor unit recruitment, and neural stimulation. During weight training, you’re also training your central nervous system (CNS) which consists of the brain and spinal cord. The reason why Olympic lifters are able to lift the weights they do is because they’ve trained their CNS to adapt to such intense stress.
Contrary to popular belief, regular exercise does not make you more tired but actually increases energy. On a very basic level this is due to your body rising up to meet the challenge for more energy by becoming stronger. Aerobic and anaerobic exercise increase the number of mitochondria in your body. Mitochondria are small structures inside human cells that produce energy which work continuously to change the energy gained from food into cellular energy that powers the muscles and tissue of the body. The number of mitochondria in your body at any one point in time is not constant; they deplete as we get older and can be increased by exercise. Increasing the amount of mitochondria in your body results in more energy and a longer duration.