Pick up some weights and you’ll also be picking up the one habit that is sure to amp up your fat loss, change your life and improve your health! These are just a few of the benefits of strength training.
As an active man or woman you already know that strength training can turn your “blah” days into good days, your mornings into energetic days and your afternoons into productive and alert evenings. You may have also reaped the benefits of reversing health risks into concerns of the past and made your bones as sturdy as steel. But, whether you’ve been training for years or are just setting foot inside your first gym, there are surprising added benefits to lifting those dumbbells.
As you start to embark on your fitness journey, you’ve got a lot more to look forward to besides that leaner and more sculpted body. Here are just a few of the bonus health benefits you’ll experience by getting on board with a plan – and some extra tips that will make this the healthiest you may have ever been!
Benefits of Strength Training #1: A Flatter Belly
You should know that weight training helps to build muscle which increases your metabolic rate leading to burning more calories (and fat). It is thought that a pound of muscle burns 30-50 calories a day at rest. If you are new to working out and if you can imagine adding 10 more pounds of muscle in the next 10-18 months, you could be burning an additional 300-500 calories a day while you’re kicking your heels up! Multiply that by 30 days a month, a year, and so on as well as adding in the calories you will be burning during the workouts themselves too and you can start to see how drastic of a change you can make.
*Tip: If brand new in the gym, start out with big compound movements such as squats, push-ups, pull-downs and overhead presses doing full body workouts 2-3x/week with 24-72 hours in between each session for the first 2-4 weeks. Do 15 “ish” repetitions. Then after this, gradually increase the weight, decrease the repetitions and look to do split your days (lower body one day, then upper body next workout).
Benefits of Strength Training #2: Less Risk of Diabetes
Most people think they need to start doing a lot of cardio to help burn off excess glucose floating around in their system thereby supporting diabetes. Although this helps, it is short lived and has a minimal impact long term. In a nutshell, diabetes if left uncontrolled, results in too much blood glucose (sugar) “hanging out” in our circulatory system because either our pancreas isn’t releasing insulin or our cells become insulin resistant. All this excess glucose hanging around causing trouble isn’t a good thing but if we could start to use up more of this glucose floating around and build new “storage houses” (muscle) through weight training, we can get this unwanted excess glucose off the circulatory system streets and into a home (muscle) where they serve a better purpose of fueling us.
*Tip: Try to minimize starchy carbohydrates such as potatoes, breads and rice and primarily consume them around workout time.
Benefits of Strength Training #3: Lowered Risk of Breast Cancer
A lot of research has shown that regular resistance training reduces cancer risk 20-40%. It primarily does this, especially in conjunction with proper diet, by increasing muscle which decreases body fat where a lot of estrogen is held. By decreasing body fat, you lower estrogen which is also indirectly help your testosterone levels while helping to eliminate estrogen dominance issues which is becoming a growing concern contributing to endometriosis, painful PMS and any more concerns for women. And for us fellas, yes we can get breast cancer and others too and excessive amounts of estrogen “steals” our testosterone away by aromatizing it over into more estrogen. “Low T” is becoming a bigger problem among men these days now more than ever. Weight training can help to start to reverse these unwanted concerns and problems and help keep our endocrine system in balance.
*Tip: Be mindful of hidden parabens (found in most lotions) and food additives that have been shown to be endocrine disruptors. In a nutshell, “eat the rainbow” and stay away from man-made foods, excessive amounts of soy (a little is fine) and get an annual endocrine blood work panel done to ensure that things are in order internally.
Benefits of Strength Training # 4: Reduce High Blood Pressure
You may already know that cardiovascular exercise helps to reduce blood pressure, but strength training can and does so just as well if not better. Because of many benefits listed previously already, we can increase the performance of our body in so many different ways to allow for blood to flow easier without roadblocks. Paying attention to proper inhaling and exhaling with your breathing along with proper nutrition and you can make drastic changes in those blood pressure readings in no time.
*Tip: If YOU have hypertension, be sure to check your ego at the door when entering the gym so you don’t over exert yourself trying to move weight that is too heavy for you. It is also important that you don’t hold your breath when really pushing yourself on a lift. Eating a diet that has plenty of nitrates and arginine can help dilate those blood vessels to help blood flow better too. Some of my top favorites here are peanuts and beets and of course the supplements citrulline and arginine! Double check if you are prone to cold sores or peanut allergies though!
Benefits of Strength Training # 5: Less Sick Days
Active people tend to have stronger immune systems, given they don’t over-due it. People who are regularly active tend to have higher natural killer cells that eat up the bad sickness-causing cells. There is typically a large difference of these in those that work out and those that do not. It is in my 14 years of experience working in the industry that those that don’t work out on a regular basis also tend to not eat nearly as healthy nor take care of themselves as well as those that are active on a regular basis. This also contributes to how healthy and resistant our bodies are to infection and sickness.
*Tip: If you have a little case of the sniffles, aka “cold”, doing some light activity in the gym is beneficial and encouraged. Moving around and breaking a little sweat while getting some circulation going around is a good thing for your body to fight off something small. However, if you have flu symptoms or worse, going in for a workout may make it worse and you’re best to stay home and rest.
Best in health,
Roger Bowman, CPT