Did you know that strength training is just as important as cardio for weight management, heart health, and overall fitness? It’s true. While cardio burns calories and improves heart health, muscle-building is also essential for losing weight and building the kind of endurance you need to function well in everyday life. To get the greatest benefit from your strength training routine, experts recommend working out all major muscle groups (even if you do them on different days). You can do strength training anywhere, but the easiest place to target every muscle group and take advantage of a variety of training options is at the gym.
Benefits of Strength Training
If you are hoping to lose a few pounds or slim down your physique, it’s tempting to focus only on burning calories through cardio exercise. But the truth is that strength training is a vital component of reducing body fat and staying healthy. Take a look at these ten reasons you shouldn’t skip leg day (or any other muscle group training):
- Improved heart health - Yes, cardio is essential for getting your heart pumping and building aerobic fitness. But strength training has also been proven to significantly reduce the risk of heart disease over time. In fact, one study found that muscle strength is a better predictor of heart disease risk than blood pressure.
- Stronger joints and bones - Strengthening the muscles that stabilize your joints and bones can reduce your risk of joint injury and osteoporosis. That’s especially important for women who tend to experience loss of bone density as they enter menopause.
- Increased muscle mass - This seems like a no-brainer, right? But increasing your muscle mass isn’t just about bulking up or toning. It can also help reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke by supporting your body’s ability to process glucose.
- Improved balance - Your muscles are responsible for keeping your body upright and providing stability around joints. The stronger they are, the better your balance will be and the less likely you are to be injured as a result of a fall. Even if you do fall, strength training makes your bones stronger, which in turn reduces the likelihood of a fracture.
- Weight management - We already mentioned the connection between strength training and weight management, but how exactly does that work? Strength training burns fat more efficiently than cardio, helping you maintain the long, lean look most of us are aiming for.
- Mood boosts - As you build your muscles, you feel stronger and more powerful - and that can provide significant mental health benefits. In fact, one study found that resistance training (i.e., lifting weights) can be linked to a reduction in symptoms of depression.
- Reduced risk of injury - The stronger your muscles are, the less likely you will be to injure yourself while lifting something heavy, reaching to put something up in a cabinet, or walking. Those benefits become even more important as you age, but they are available to everyone with just a few minutes of training each week.
- Improvements in functional movement - Functional movements are the things we do everyday like climbing stairs, lifting a basket of laundry, or pushing a lawnmower. To gain the most benefits, incorporate functional exercises that use more than one muscle group into your routine. These include jumping, pushing, pulling, squatting, and lunging.
- Reduced risk of serious medical concerns - Your risk of serious medical concerns such as obesity, stroke, and heart attack can all be decreased by improving your overall fitness. Strength training is a critical component of that goal. In one study, researchers found that lifting weights for less than one hour every week could reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke by anywhere from 40% to 70%.
- Protection as you age - Perhaps the greatest benefit of all is the fact that strength training may help you live longer. Strength training helps protect your mobility and can reduce your risk of many common age-related illnesses - even if you start later in life.
Take the Next Step
With all of these benefits available to you, there’s no good reason not to incorporate strength training into your fitness routine. At Fitness 19, you have access to top-of-the-line weight machines as well as free weights and functional training. And if you need a little help knowing how to get started or how to safely and effectively build your muscles, our personal trainers are on hand to give you guidance.