For most of us (I may dare to say all of us), there is a vanity element to weight management. Sure, we love the ancillary benefits like lower blood pressure, stress relief, and higher bone density, but honestly, a lot of it boils down to looking and feeling great. That being the case, I’m always surprised to learn that most people identify ‘working out’ with steady state cardio. People are quick to talk about going for a run or hitting the treadmill/elliptical, especially women.
Sadly, I think the biggest general objection to strength training is the fear of getting big muscles (again, especially woman). The truth is, though, it takes an extreme amount of dedication to diet and exercise to get in ‘body building ‘shape, far far far more than most of us would commit to without that being the end-goal. Therefore, it’s impossible to do it ‘by accident’.
Even more sadly, we over look weight training which, as it turns out, is the best way to alter our current bodies. Sure, steady state cardio can help lose fat, but strength training will help change overall body composition, giving us sexy lean muscle mass that not only looks healthy, but creates body symmetry.
I believe in strength training so much that if I had to choose between it and cardio as my sole means to work out, I would choose strength training without a second thought.
To prove this point, here are 5 great reasons you should be strength training, either as the basis for your routine or, at very least, as supplemental training.
- Lean muscle is more expensive – The more muscle you add, the more calories your body burns, even at rest. (remember, adding muscle doesn’t mean adding size, it means replacing fat with high density muscles tissue that takes up less room but eats more calories. So your body still shrinks in overall size, not swells)
- Energy and Mood boosting – Strength training elevates endorphin levels, which make you feel happy. Strength training has shown to be a natural anti-depressant
- Stronger Tendons, ligaments, and bones – it will help you stay fit and strong, especially as you age, when the body naturally loses muscularity and balance. It also improves posture and coordination.
- Helps with disease prevention as we age – Studies have shown it can help type 2 diabetics with glucose control, can help with arthritis pain, and reduce the risk of bone fractures.
- Okay, Fine, you’ll look amazing – Let’s not deny the number one motivation for working out. To look and feel great! Strength training can change your body, and for the better. Stop thinking body building and start thinking fitness models. And for those that will say oh they’re too skinny or too ripped, that’s a function of diet, it’s VERY hard to get that low in body fat. Without a perfect diet you will simply look slim, fit, and healthy. Far better than if you only did long sessions of steady state cardio, which will make you look thin and stringy (think: distance runners)
It’s time to stop associating weight/strength training with Arnold and his fellow body builders and start recognizing that the lean healthy bodies that you envy in magazines are built by fitness routines that regularly include strength training.
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