benefits of strength training

Main Benefits of Strength Training [Science-Based]

If there's something you can do to improve your health, that's strength training. It's a cheap, easy, and satisying way of improving your overall health and lifespan. Is long the list of benefits of strength training, considering this activity one of the best treatments for a wide range of diseases and stages.

In this post we'll give a brief introduction to what strength training is and the main disciplines practiced worldwide. Later, we'll get into matter to start discussing the Main Benefits of Strength Training.

WHAT’S STRENGTH TRAINING?

Strength training, also called resistance training, refers to a physical activity designed to improve muscle mass, strength and endurance (source). The training sessions are designed in such manner that you are able to optimize your muscle strength and stimulate your body to a great extent to induce an increase in muscle mass (muscle hypetrophy).

Strength training is done by adding an opposed force to your muscle. This ca be achieved by using different materials:

  • Body weight: push ups, pull ups, squats, planks,...
  • Weights: bench press, barbell curls, weighted squat,...
  • Resistance bands: assisted pull ups, lateral walk, adductions,...
  • Kettlebell: swings, sumo squat, windmill,...

By adding an opposed force, we induce what's called mechanical tension (read about it HERE), known as the main mechanism of muscle hypertrophy (study).

Practicants of this type of exercise can have different goals. While some focus on performance and athletic results, some more focus more on physical appearance and muscle mass. Overall, strength training enables anyone to build muscle mass, improve muscle function and build train their endurance

TYPES OF STRENGTH TRAINING

A positive thing about strength training is the wide diversity of disciplines it offers. That gives you more opportunities to find your place in an specific discipline to adapt and evolve within that environment. Remember, if you don't like what you are doing, it will not last for long.

Hypertrophy Training

Hypertrophy training, probably the most popular strength discipline, focuses on increasing muscle size and improving body composition.

The mechanisms underlying muscle hypertrophy are well understood (study), these being:

Following science-based recommendations, hypertrophy training is based on the practice of exercises to specifically train different muscle groups. Modulating the volume load, intensity and frequency of these exercises (study)(study), you can improve overtime and build muscle mass.

In simple words, start by doing 8-10 sets/week for each muscle in a range of 6-12 repetitions/set (study)

Powerlifting

Compared to Hypertrophy Training, Powerlifting is a much more specific discipline for building maximal muscle strength.

The main movements of this discipline are three: deadlift, squat and bench press. In competitive levels, these three movements are tested to see who has the best marks both total and relative (per weight) strength.

To gain muscle strength as a powerlifter, prioritize specific exercises to your main movements in a range of 1-5 reps. But don't forget that muscle mass and muscle strength are highly related (study), and periodized hypertrophy training can also help you on muscle strength.

Weightlifting

Weightlifting is one of the only strength disciplines considered Olympic Sport. Weightlifitng movements include the snatch, and clean and jerk.

This discipline include maximal strength, muscle hypertrophy and motor function. Due to the complexity of the movements, weightlifting requires of learning motor skills to adapt to the specific movement and lower the risk of injury (study).

Also called Olympian Lifting, this discipline is a much more strict and complex than Powerlifting. Regulations, materials and complexity of the movements makes it a great strength discipline

Main benefits of strength training

MAIN BENEFITS OF STRENGTH TRAINING

Strength training is for sure one of the best things you can do to improve your health. In the following 5 min, we'll take you through the amazing journey of strength training to discover the main benefits of strength training...

**[SOME OF THEM WILL SIMPLY AMAZE YOU]**

Physical Benefits of Strength Training

Obvious, but nevertheless important. Strength training has been shown to be the best and most specific discipline to improve body composition and physical appearance (study)

Builds your Physique

Strength training is a requisite if you want to improve your body composition. It helps you achieving a greater physique. In this study, strength training helped improving body image, behaviour, and satisfaction of the subjects studied (study)

Improves muscle function

Muscle tissue is our "small treasure", making up 40% of our body mass and promoting lower risk of fall and healthy aging (study). However, as we age, muscle tissue deteriorates and may lead to sarcopenia (study).

Exercise, and moreover strength training, shows to promote a healthy aging of our muscle tissue (study). And this doesn't only happens in old subjects. Strength training also improves muscle function and muscular fitness outcomes in young adults (study)

Body Fat Percentage

Reduces Body Fat

Strength training, together with nutrition are the basis of a weightloss process. Once you have built your weightloss diet (Learn how to do it HERE), strength training will help you getting where you want.

Strength training favours the reduction of body fat over muscle loss. In this study, diet combined with strength training promoted a higher body fat reduction, while keeping more muscle mass compared to the control group (study)

Health Benefits of Strength Training

A lot of people is not aware of the importance of strength training in our health. In the last decade, a huge amount of research has come out backing up strength training as one of the best exercise disciplines to promote health and lifespan...

Improves Cardiovascular Health

Strength training, although it may seem counterintuitive, helps you promoting cardiovascular health.

Strength training shows a cardioprotective effect. It improves hypertension (study) and flow-mediated dilation (study). Not only that, but cardiovascular outcomes also improve by means of both aerobic and resistance exercise (study)

Boosts your Metabolism

Strength training promotes muscle mass. And the more muscle mass, the higher your resting metabolism is (study). Simple as that.

Boosted metabolism can help you prevent weight gain and lower the risk of metabolic diseases (study). Not only that, but it also controls your appetite and hunger (study)

Increases Bone Mineral Density

Osteoporosis (bone loss) increase as we age (study). Lower bone density is associated with a higher prevalence of fracture, risk of fall and lower mobility (study).

Strength training, on its hand, shows to stimulate bone mass accretion and promote bone mineral density (study). Because of the close relation between muscle and bone, strength training seems to be one of the best disciplines to promote bone health.

Strength training and bone density

Improves Brain Function

Strength training, believe or not, is highly related to cognitive performance and brain function.

The mechanisms underlying the effect of strength training in cognitive performance are not yet fully understood. But we have enough evidence to conclude that brain undergoes functional changes, mainly in the frontal lobe, when exposed to strengt training (systematic review).

Strength training also led to lower white matter lesion volumes and lower matter atrophy as well (study).

Studies in rat models also show that physical exercise could induce the generation of new neurons, a process called Neurogenesis (study)

Healthy Aging

Aging is oftent the limiting factor for a wonderful and long-lived life. As we age, brain function, muscle function, bone density, energy production, metabolism,... start deteriorating (study).

To solve this problem, a lot of research has been put into different aspects to improve the aging process and ultimately extend lifespan. And strength training has been in the spotlight.

As we've seen earlier in this post, strength training helps you preserving muscle mass and preventing from early bone loss and sarcopenia (study). Strength training also proves to lower brain degradation and mental disorders (study).

Moreover, strength trianing has an impact on our aging metabolic activity as well. In this study done with older adults, they found strength training to increase resting metabolic rate, possibly by increasing the nervous system activity and increasing fat free mass (FFM) (study)

So, yes, strength training does help you living a longer and better life. It improves your brain health, muscle function and meteabolic activity... among others.

Strength Training and Healthy Aging

Effect on Mitochondrial Activity

Mitochondrias are the power houses of our metabolism. It generates most of our energy's supply by the oxidation of Acetyl-CoA and further energy production (study).

Strength training, on its hand, may improve mitochondrial activity by terms of biogenesis (higher mitochondria production), density (more mitochondrias per unit of area), and function (study). Due to the high energy demands of physically active subjects, we do require of more mitochondria.

These results seem promising, but we don't have yet enough evidence to say this actually happens. But this is science, so wait for upcoming results!

Psychological Benefits of Strength Training

Besides physiological aspects, strength training does affect our mood and behaviour. What are the main benefits of strength training on this field? Keep reading!!

Strength Training Builds Your Discipline

Discipline is the ability to control your impulses and feelings and stay on track towards to your goals. (click HERE to read more about it). Discipline is what keeps us on the right track towards our goal and succes.

However, modern society generally lacks discipline. The use of electronic devices and abundance of easy distractions leads to procrastination and laziness. But strength training can fix this.

Strength training is part of your weekly routine, contributing to your discipline. As we saw in a post about how to gain self-confidence (read HERE), creating small habits can potentially help you on being more disciplined. And muscle building and strength training is a long-term process, being a great practice for habit building

Raises your Self-Esteem

Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence are central in mental health and happiness (study). The finding of 'The Self' and being comfortable with who you are, has a huge impact on our lifes.

Strength training shows to have a positive impact on 'The Self' (systematic review). Due to the high importance of physical appearance in modern society, the physical change caused by strength training may explain this rise in self-esteem.

Strength training potentially contributes to your overall happiness and self-esteem. So, if you want to become confident of who you are and where you are going, go start training!!

Strength Training trains your Willpower

According to psychological scientists, willpower is defined as the ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.

Simply by looking at the definition you can already imagine how strength training can help you on this. As we've said many times, strength training is a medium-long term discipline, and results don't come overnight.

Thus, strength trianing does help you to some extent training your willpower. It resists short-term temptations and makes us "suffer" during the training session, but it's so gratifiyng when you see the final results after a few months.

Improves Your Mood

Strength training shows to have anxiolytic effects on those who practice it (review). More interestingly, this anxiolytic effect seems to be related with the intensity of the exercise, showing the best results after moderate-high intensities (60-70% RM).

Moreover, training also shows to have a huge impact in our mood and behaviour (study). As you can see in the image below (A), acute exercise improves positive mood states while decreasing negative ones. It also increases the secretion of hormones such as dopamine or serotonin, highly related to happiness and positive behaviour (study)

Exercise and mood

CONCLUSION

Strength training is one of the best things you can do to improve your life. Beyond having a good physique and having your so desired abs, strength training has a lot of other benefits, even more important than that.

In this post we saw the main benefits of strength training. To sum up, these are englobed in three main fields; health, physique and psyche. Being these the three main aspects for a succesful and meaningful life, we do recommend everyone to practice some kind of strength training.

If you have doubts, leave it below in the comments section!!

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