Numerous researches show that regular weightlifting helps to improve your body composition and give you a toned appearance. However, the positive impact is not limited by that, as it can also improve your overall health and make you a happier person. Weightlifting can benefit your efforts to burn fat, reduce your risk of diabetes, prevent back pain and even help you fight depression.
The Benefits of Weight Training
There is actually a long list of why you should include strength training in your program.
1. Improve body capacity
Not only does strength training increase your physical work capacity, it also improves your ability to perform activities of daily living (ADL's). You will be able to work harder and longer with the proper weight training activities.
Body awareness, or being able to recruit the proper muscles in the right sequence, is key for moving in a way that is both efficient and safe in daily life, says fitness expert John Carrico. "When you get out of your car, there's a pattern in which your muscles are recruited that is correct; you activate your midsection, rotate your trunk, bring your leg out of the car, fire your hamstrings then glutes, then stand up." Doing a squat in the gym, Carrico says, helps you to learn how to perform those movements correctly, "rather than doing what most people do, which is to put the pressure into their toes and the quads with no core stability at all."
2. Increase fat-free muscle mass
It promotes fat-free body mass with decreasing sarcopenia. The lean muscle mass that we all work so hard for decreases with age. If we don't add strength training to our routine then it will turn into fat.
In study published in the February 2008 issue of Cell Metabolism, Boston University researchers demonstrated that type II muscle fibers, the kind you build when you lift weights, improve whole-body metabolism. The researchers genetically engineered mice with a type II muscle growth-regulating gene that could be turned on and off. After eight weeks on a high-fat, high-sugar diet, they activated the gene, but did not change the mice's diet. Without any change in activity level, the mice lost total body fat. The researchers concluded that an increase in type II muscle fibers can reduce body fat without changes to diet and might be effective in the fight against obesity.
3. Promote strong tissues and muscles
It Increases the strength of connective tissue, muscles, and tendons. This leads to improved motor performance and decreased injury risk.
4. Better heart health
Keep your ticker in top form by pumping iron, says a study conducted by researchers at the College of Health Sciences’ Department of Health, Leisure and Exercise Science at Appalachian State University. The study looked at what happens to arteries and blood flow after 45 minutes of moderate-intensity strength training and found that there was up to a 20 percent decrease in blood pressure -- a benefit equal to or surpassing that of taking anti-hypertensive drugs. The blood flow-improving effects of resistance exercise persisted for about 30 minutes after the end of a training session and continued for as long as 24 hours in people who trained regularly -- 30 to 45 minutes a few times a week.
5. Prevent back pain
If you work in an office, you know that sitting at your desk all day can wreak havoc on your lower back, leading to stiffness and pain. Weightlifting may help strengthen the muscles of your core -- those that support your spine -- to lessen the discomfort and undo some of the damage caused by sitting all day. But what are the best exercises? Fitness expert John Carrico recommends focusing on hip extensions, essentially the opposite motion of the hip flexion that occurs while sitting. Squatting, step-ups and hip extensions are a few examples. Start with just your body weight and then add resistance to increase the challenge. Carrico also recommends abdominal exercises such as planking.
6. Improve Balance
Aside from your major muscle groups, like your pecs and hamstrings, your body has various smaller muscles called stabilizer muscles. These muscles do exactly what you would think: They help stabilize you. Although you might lift weights to flatter your flexing muscles, each time you work out you're indirectly targeting those little muscles that help keep you upright and take care of everyday tasks such as balancing on one foot to reach a high shelf or stopping yourself from falling on an icy surface. This is especially important for people as they age. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in adults over 65.
7. Improve posture
Bad posture is an epidemic these days. Weightlifting addresses this by allowing you to identify and correct muscle imbalances. It is also a necessity to maintain proper form while performing any lifts, which further promotes good posture with a neutral spine. This also forces you to work on mobility issues. When performing the squat for example, many people realize they lack adequate hip flexibility to reach the bottom.
8. Improve body image
It improves your quality of life as you gaining body confidence. Strength training will not only make you strong, but will also help with managing your weight. Plain and simple, weightlifting is the best way to get a lean, toned, fit body -- for both men and women. You can do all the cardio you want, but without some form of resistance training to challenge the muscles, you won't get those toned muscles in all the right places, the ones that shape your body.
9. Reduce depression symptoms
When it comes to the effects of exercise on depression, aerobic exercise, such as running and swimming, has been much more extensively researched than anaerobic exercise, such as weightlifting. But as one study reports, there's little difference between the two in terms of how well they relieve symptoms of depression. A study published in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2004, followed 40 women and found similar results in those who ran and those who lifted weights for eight weeks. In addition, there was no difference in the percentage of participants in the two groups who remained non-depressed during follow-up.
10. Sleep better
Regular exercisers — especially those who truly push themselves — report the best sleep, and weightlifting is no exception. In a small 2012 study in older men, researchers found that resistance training reduced the number of times the study participants woke up during the night, as compared to a control group who performed no exercise.
11. Be more productive
Lifting could result in a raise (or at least a pat on the back from your boss). Researchers found that workers were 15 percent more productive on days they exercised compared with days they didn't. So on days you work out, you can (theoretically) finish in eight hours what would normally take nine hours and 12 minutes. Or you'd still work for nine hours but get more done, leaving you feeling less stressed and happier with your job--another perk reported on days workers exercised.
12. Prevent Alzheimer’s
What we know for sure about dementia is spotty at best. No one’s sure of a cause, but there are a number of important correlations medical professionals have observed. One of the most notable has to do with white matter lesions, holes that form in the brain later in life. While the relationship between these gaps and dementia isn’t 100% clear, research indicates they increase your risk of developing the disease.
Though there’s no guarantee you can avoid dementia, weight lifting could lower your chances. A recent study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society tracked white matter lesion development in a group of 155 women over 12 months. At the end of the trial, women who engaged in resistance training two times per week had significantly fewer lesions.
13. Fight osteoporosis
As you age, you naturally lose muscle and bone mass. This is of special concern for women, whose bones are smaller to begin with and can become dangerously weakened by age. Vivian Ledesma, D.C., owner and director of Alliance Healing Arts in Seattle, Washington, explains that weightlifting can help fight this. Just as your muscles adapt to the stress of weightlifting by becoming bigger and stronger, your bones also adapt. "Anytime your bones perceive stress, the response is that more bone will be deposited," says Ledesma.
14. Lower your diabetes risk
The World Health Organization reports that nearly 350 million people have diabetes worldwide and predicts that by 2030, the disease will be the seventh leading cause of death. You probably know that living a healthy lifestyle -- including managing your weight, eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and abstaining from tobacco use -- can help you prevent becoming a statistic, but you may not know that weightlifting, specifically, plays a significant role in reducing your risk. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in The Archives of Internal Medicine found that men who lifted weights for 150 minutes each week -- about five 30-minute sessions -- had a 34-percent lower risk of diabetes. Adding regular cardiovascular exercise slashed the risk by 59 percent.
If you already have diabetes or subject of the elevated hereditary risk factors, weightlifting can help with better prevention approaches, properly regulating blood glucose, according to a study published on the Nature Medicine website in April 2013. Researchers of the study report that weight training encourages the growth of white muscle, which aids in lowering blood glucose because it uses glucose for energy. Mammals, like poultry, have different colors of muscle ranging from red to white. Red muscle, which uses fat oxidation to generate energy, is more prevalent in endurance athletes, such as marathon runners, while white muscle is abundant in weightlifters and sprinters.
15. Improve your Diet
Exercise helps your brain stick to a diet plan. University of Pittsburgh researchers studied 169 overweight adults and found that those who didn't follow a three-hours-a-week training regimen ate more than their allotted 1,500 calories a day. The reverse was also true—sneaking snacks sabotaged their workouts. The study authors say both diet and exercise likely remind you to stay on track, aiding your weight-loss goals.
16. Improve your singing abilities
To improve your voice, you may target two main muscles during your workout that help the voice sound better.
Strong pectoral muscles help support your voice by helping to anchor the larynx. The pectorals are the first muscles the larynx anchors to against the upward motion of air pressure while you sing. A supported larynx cracks and breaks easier and it’s harder to stay in chest register without strong pectorals. But remember you want strong, but long pectorals. Start with 10 pushups on the floor and then 10 pushups into the corner of a room (a couple of feet away from the corner, do a pushup into the corner). You’ll notice you are lengthening the pectorals past where you can with floor pushups. These wall pushups are one of the first exercises we use in vocal rehabilitation to build a stronger voice.
You’ll need to have a strong abdomen to have a strong voice. Abdominals are engaged when you sing correctly. But just like your pectorals and neck muscles not being too contracted, strong and long abdominals is what you need for your singing voice. You want to strengthen your abs, but not with typical crunches which can cause vocal problems. You want to strengthen AND lengthen them at the same time and Pilates roll ups do exactly that. 10-15 rollups per day!
17. Live longer
While most forms of regular exercise can add years to your life, strength training in particular has big benefits. As we get older, the more muscle mass we have, the less likely we are to die prematurely, according to 2014 research from UCLA. “In other words, the greater your muscle mass, the lower your risk of death,” study co-author Arun Karlamangla, M.D., said in a statement. “Thus, rather than worrying about weight or body mass index, we should be trying to maximize and maintain muscle mass.” And what better way to maximize those muscles than by pumping iron?
18. Boost sex drive
The increased sex drive with exercise has been linked to higher testosterone levels in both men and women. Elevated levels of testosterone have been found in men after six weeks and in women after eight weeks of weight training. With higher testosterone levels, males experience: more frequent erections, increasing sexual urges, better bone density, and greater mass and muscular strength. Women experience the following with higher testosterone levels: more frequent sex; heightened sexual arousal; elevated moods which may lead to higher sex drive; greater muscle and bone density, and higher energy levels.
Testosterone also reduces depression and chronic fatigue, which obstructs a good sex life. In addition to higher levels of testosterone, long workouts at moderate to high levels, also cause the release of chemicals known as endorphins and adrenaline. This has been called the "runner's high." The endorphins and adrenaline create a feeling of pleasure and well-being. The release of endorphins has been shown to increase sexual arousal or even orgasm in women. Endorphins also reduce stress, which is a major sex drive inhibitor. The combination of adrenaline with endorphins and with testosterone is a potent sexual cocktail!
19. Improve fertility and have healthy kids
Scientists have found out that oxidative damages from exercising would increase our cell repair mechanism capability. During weight lifting, our consumption of oxygen is largely increased and a small percentage of oxygen would be converted to highly reactive oxidants. These oxidant molecules would eventually cause minor damages to our cells and DNA. Although our DNA is subjected to oxidative damages during exercise, these minor oxidative damages would result in a greater increase in our DNA repair capacity, allowing DNA damages to be repaired and keep our genes extremely robust. These robust genes and damage-free DNA would then be passed on to your offspring, making them healthier.
And in an experiment conducted on 1558 Danish men in 2004, scientists have discovered that skinny and obese men have lower sperm quality in term of semen volume and number of normal sperms. Muscular men on the other hand have the best score in fertility. It does seem that lifting weight not only gives you healthier children, it also improves your fertility.
20. Advance in social status
Like it or not, we're animals. And like most other animals, we have a social structure that in many ways operates out of our control. Here's how it works: physically strong men tend to be more confident. Confident (and muscular) men tend to be more respected by others, are seen as better leaders and more competent in general. As a result, they're able to motivate others to work harder, they get more promotions, and they make more money. They're also seen as more attractive than their less-confident (and less-muscular) brothers. "Studies have demonstrated that people assign positive personality traits to drawings or photographs of mesomorphic (muscular) men and mostly negative traits to nonmesomorphic men," say researchers Timothy Judge from the University of Florida and Daniel Cable from the London Business School. For example traits ascribed to mesomorphic men were very positive (i.e., best friend, has lots of friends, polite, happy, helps others, brave, healthy, smart, and neat). By contrast ... ectomorphic (slender) men were described with a different set of negative traits (i.e., nervous, sneaky, afraid, sad, weak, and sick)."
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