11 Reasons To Start Strength Training Now
Strength training prevents loss of muscle as we age: after the age of 30 we lose between 3-5% of muscle mass each decade in a natural, age-related process called sarcopenia. A full body strength training program which exercises all major muscle groups at least two times a week can prevent muscle loss and even build muscle in middle age.
Strength training preserves functional strength for everyday living: preserving muscle strength makes it easier to do everyday things like climb stairs, open pickle jars and carry grocery bags. It also improves quality of life as we age.
Strength training burns more calories: strength training builds lean muscle mass and is one of the most effective ways to increase your metabolism and burn calories at rest (before and after exercise). High intensity strength training (it's intensity and not the duration that determines energy consumption) can burn an additional 6-15% more calories after exercise completion.
You will have better cardiovascular health: like cardiovascular exercise, strength training improves blood pressure and triglyceride levels. But it has even greater benefits on HDL. A 2013 research study in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that men who strength train regularly have better-functioning HDL, or good cholesterol, compared with those who never lift weights.
You will be happier: strength training elevates endorphins, improving mood and lifting energy levels.
You will like your clothes more: research has shown that consistent strength training improves body image and perceived physical appearance. The stronger you are the more you'll like what you see when you look in the mirror. You'll stand taller, with better posture, and your clothes will fit better.
Strength training can preserve bone density: weight-bearing exercises strengthen bone mineral density by exerting force on the bones through the tendons (which attach muscle to bone). This intermittent stressing of the muscle-bone attachment stimulates the bone cells to produce structural proteins and move minerals into the bone. A 2016 study of 150 women with osteoporosis or osteopenia showed that those who performed regular resistance training increased their serum concentrations of CTX, a marker of bone resorption and formation.
Strength training burns more abdominal fat than cardio: a 2014 study in which Harvard researchers followed 10,500 men over the course of 12 years found that strength training is more effective at preventing increases in abdominal fat than cardiovascular exercise. Visceral fat not only increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes, but it can also promote cancer development. Research published in 2017 shows that visceral fat cells produce high levels of a cancer-triggering protein called fibroblast growth factor-2, or FGF2.
Strength training will help you live longer: a study of nearly 140,000 adults in 17 countries found that grip strength is a more reliable predictor of mortality and cardiovascular disease than blood pressure. Data from the study showed that every 5-kg decrease in grip strength was linked to a 16% increase in death overall, a 17% increase in both cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular mortality, a 7% increase in the risk of myocardial infarction, and a 9% increase in the risk of stroke.
Strength training lowers risk of injury from falls: Strength training has benefits for balance, coordination and posture. One study showed that people with sarcopenia had 2.3 times the risk of having a low-trauma fracture from a fall, such as a broken hip, collarbone, leg, arm, or wrist. Another study showed that strength training reduced the risk of falling by 40 percent for older individuals who participated in strength-training exercises.
Strength training leads to greater "body clairvoyance": strength training, like most other forms of exercise, brings us increased intimacy with our bodies. We begin to learn how our muscles function (which muscles are responsible for certain movements), how long our muscles take to recover after exercising them, and how to maintain flexibility and mobility as we build lean muscle mass. Big caveat: you have to pay attention!
I started strength training at a relatively early age and have maintained this practice throughout my life (for nearly 40 years). But you shouldn't start a strength training program without prior experience. Seek the guidance of someone who knows what they're doing. At the very least start slow; your own body weight is all the resistance you need. Start with some push-ups and body weight squats. Add resistance (load) as you get stronger. Don't injure yourself. Being injured sucks.