For most people, “strength training” is an intimidating term.
But despite this common perception, strength training is much more than a tool for elite athletes and muscle-bound gym-goers. No matter who you are, strength training offers amazing benefits, such as increasing your calorie burn, boosting your brainpower and preventing injuries.
Sound appealing? We agree. Let’s explore further!
What is Strength Training?
Strength training – also referred to as resistance training or weight training – is a type of exercise that improves muscular fitness by imposing resistance on a specific muscle or muscle group. The added resistance placed on your muscle fibers forces them to adapt to the new demands, which results in increased strength, power and muscle mass.
Strength training isn’t limited to traditional weight lifting, either. From group fitness classes that incorporate kettlebells and dumbbells, to CrossFit workouts that focus on functional fitness movements, there are a variety of different ways to reap the benefits of strength training.
What are the Benefits of Strength Training?
You’ll Gain Strength
Seem a bit obvious? Fair point. But once again, the term “strength” is a bit deceiving. Strength is more than bench pressing 300 lbs or curling 50 lb dumbbells. A slight increase in strength can boost your ability to perform everyday activities, like climbing stairs, opening doors and getting out of bed.
The key to making these everyday tasks easier is to follow a functional strength training routine that adds additional resistance to everyday movements. For example, step-ups (pictured above) develop strength and coordination in the muscles that help you climb stairs. Perform these types of exercises regularly to make everyday tasks noticeably easier.
You’ll Give Your Metabolism a Boost
Muscle burns more calories than body fat. So, the more muscle you can pack on, the more calories you’ll burn daily, making it easier to lose weight. Strength training is one of the most efficient ways to effectively increase your lean muscle mass, thereby increasing the number of calories you burn per day (aka your basal metabolic rate).
Strength training also helps you burn more calories at rest following a workout. This metabolic boost is commonly referred to as the “afterburn effect” or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). Similar to the way your car engine stays hot after a long road trip, your body continues to burn calories after an intense exercise bout. And, while aerobic exercise also triggers the afterburn effect, studies show that it lasts longer following strength training workouts. 
You’ll Be in a Better Mood
Few things compare to the satisfaction that comes from seeing real, tangible results from a consistent strength training program. From feeling stronger when performing everyday movements to seeing a more defined version of yourself in the mirror, it’s a surefire way to improve your self-confidence.
Beyond the aesthetics, strength training also elevates your endorphin levels (natural feel-good hormones produced in the brain), which improves your overall mood. And, while aerobic exercise is known to offer similar benefits, recent research suggests the mood-boosting benefits of strength training may be greater. 
You’ll Look More Defined & Athletic
Do you want to look more defined and athletic? If so, aerobic exercise, like running on the treadmill, isn’t going to cut it. In order to build muscle and look truly chiseled, you need to follow a structured strength training routine.
But be sure to increase your training load as you progress if you want to continue to see results! Be it more weight, reps or time under tension, new challenges in your training routine are what will help you continue to build muscle once your body has adapted to your current training routine.
You’ll Be Less Likely to Get Injured
As we age, our bodies naturally lose muscle mass, which impacts our coordination, balance and posture. Strength training helps combat age-related muscular atrophy and helps reduce the likelihood of falls in older adults. One study performed on people with age-related muscular atrophy showed that strength training lowered their risk of falling by 40 percent. 
Lifting weights doesn’t just prevent injury in the elderly, either. Research suggests that regular strength training can help you avoid injuries by strengthening your ligaments and tendons. Some studies also suggest that strength training can even strengthen your bones. 
You’ll Boost Your Brain Power
As a whole, exercise has proven to have several brain-boosting properties. However, most research that showcases the mental benefits of exercise focuses on aerobic training. As it turns out, strength training offers several unique cognitive enhancements. 
Strength training has shown to improve functioning in the frontal lobe of the brain, which is the area responsible for executive functions, such as emotional intelligence and task management. Studies also suggest that strength training can help lower white matter atrophy in the brain as we age.