Benefits of Resistance Training: 5 Reasons to Add It to Your Workout
In recent years, the fitness industry has seen a surge in popularity for resistance training.
Resistance training employs free weights, weight machines, and body-weight exercises to increase strength and muscle mass, which makes it a perfect addition to any workout, both at home and in the gym.
So, what exactly are the benefits of resistance training?
Helps build and improve muscle
Resistance training is a great way to target and strengthen the muscles that you want, which are often those same muscles used for daily activities.
Most resistance-training programs are designed around the principle of progressive overload: as muscles grow stronger and larger from repetition they need more work outs to continue progressing.
While lifting weights is the most common form of resistance training, there are many alternative forms that can be done with minimal or no equipment: In lieu of weight machines and resistance bands, exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups and squats will certainly help you get started on your fitness journey.
And while resistance training may sound mildly terrifying, it doesn't have to be: do a quick search of YouTube and you'll find videos for all abilities and that explain how to perform different movements and offer encouragement on getting started.
Helps burn off excess fat and calories
Another benefit is that it helps burn off excess fat and calories. This means if you want to lose weight, resistance training can be an important component in a workout plan for burning fat and toning muscles.
It lights a fire under your metabolism, and means your body continues to use more calories even when you're not actively working out.
Helps improve bone density
Regular resistance training also helps improve bone density by increasing the strength of bones and is particularly useful to prevent muscle wasting in those with critical illness or injury.
As we age, this can be especially important for post-menopausal women, as osteoporosis can increase their risk for fractures and falls.
It's important to work with an experienced trainer who understands the changes your body can experience when it comes to aging.
You'll want to take on resistance exercises that don't put too much strain on your joints, and you might also need to workout on a less frequent basis in order to not over-do and undo your good work.
Resistance work also greatly reduces the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type II diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis.
Helps boost mental health and wellbeing
Resistance training can be a great way to improve your mental health and wellbeing - these types of exercises have been proven to boost mood, reduce anxiety levels, increase self-esteem and increase energy.
Never underestimate resistance training as a means to improve your mental health - it can lead to increased levels of serotonin and endorphins, which have positive effects on mood - resistance training is also proven to be motivating because it instills feelings of accomplishment when you complete the workout.
When working out is the absolute last thing we want to do, it is so important to have a routine (where possible) we can fall back on that gets the blood and endorphins flowing around the body.
Strength training can have a huge impact on mood and anxiety levels (burns off excess stress hormones that have a tendency to flood the system and that we would otherwise need to find a way of purging through other physical or mental activities).
Helps to improve sleep
Science has suggested that there is a link between resistance training and better sleep.
It seems that strength workouts have a positive effect on the production of serotonin, which in turn benefits our sleeping patterns.
The boost to serotonin is likely due to the release of endorphins during resistance exercise – a natural painkiller with mood-lifting properties - or because muscle tissue helps regulate body temperature more effectively, leading to a deeper sleep.
We know that we need sleep to function well. Sleep deprivation has serious consequences on our physical and mental health, brain power, immune system, as well as other maladies of the body, ranging from a sore throat or an upset stomach all the way up to possible cancer in some cases.
A lack of sleep over time will have much more dire effects than just feeling grotty when we get out of bed in the morning.
It affects our whole lives: at work; with friends/family; while eating; exercise becomes harder when, on top of everything else, we throw fatigue into the mix...!
But resistance training, or weight lifting as it is also known, has been shown to help us sleep better.
And not just because we're so exhausted afterwards that our body forces us to rest! We know this from research which has tracked the effects of resistance activity on a group of people over time: some resistance trained regularly; others stretched or did yoga.
Those who resistance trained had better sleep quality, slept more soundly and for longer periods of time than those in the other groups.
If you’ve been pondering whether or not to incorporate resistance training into your regular workout, we are here to tell you that you NEED to; it can help you lose weight, burn off excess fat and calories, build muscle mass, boost mental health and mood as well as bone density for healthier bones later in life.
The best part?
You don’t need any equipment or gym memberships to get started - with just the use of your own bodyweight (or free weights) at home or office you can reap all these benefits from 10-20 minutes per day on days that work with your schedule.
Take charge of your own fitness journey now - there is no time like the present!