If strength training isn’t included in your exercise routine, you’re missing
out on countless benefits. Here are 5 reasons to pick up the iron:
1. Increased Metabolism
An increased metabolism is just one of the few benefits you’ll notice
from strength training. Muscle is one of the most metabolically-active
tissues in the body so increasing your muscle mass will directly increase
your metabolism. It has been proven time and time again that properly
performed high intensity strength training stimulates the development of
Additionally, muscle tissue has been observed to burn roughly 7
to 10 calories per pound per day, compared to 2 calories per pound per day
for fat1. Not only does increasing your metabolism help you to burn more
calories, but it will help you maintain a healthy body weight as well.
2. Improved Body Composition
Strength training also improves body composition which is used to
describe the percentages of fat or fat-free mass in the body. Because of
differences in body composition, two people at the same height and the same
weight may look completely different.
An unhealthy body composition
dramatically increases your risk for weight-related health issues such as
diabetes and heart disease, as stated by the American Council on Exercise2.
However, a healthy body composition increases your metabolism, enhances your
appearance, and supports your overall health.
3. Maintained Muscle during Deficiency/Aging
Usually when you’re attempting to lose weight you’re also on a restricted
diet. A calorie restricted diet puts your body in a calorie deficient state
in order to use stored fat as energy. The issue is if you’re not strength
training, you’re losing muscle. According to the American Council on
Exercise3, if you diet without exercise, for every one pound your weight on
the scale decreases, 25 percent comes from lean tissue. An extreme example
of this is crash dieting.
Not only are your results temporary, but you’ve
slowed your metabolism down in the process putting your further away from
your goals! As most are aware, with aging comes a general decline in many
hormones which results in a loss of muscle and bone mass. According to the
National Academy of Sports Medicine4, after the age 35, you will lose
between .5% - 1% percent of your muscle mass annually unless you engage in
regular physical activity to prevent it. However, by engaging in regular
resistance training and following a sound diet that includes adequate
amounts of protein, you can prevent most of the muscle loss associated with
4. Post Workout Expenditure
After weight training, the body continues to need oxygen at a higher rate
than before the exercise began. This is known as excess post exercise oxygen
consumption (EPOC). Research indicates that resistance weight training and
EPOC has noted a relationship between exercise intensity and elevated
As weight lifting intensity increases, the EPOC duration
also increases. In a 1992 Purdue study, results showed that high intensity,
anaerobic type exercise resulted in a significantly greater magnitude of
EPOC than aerobic exercise of equal work output5. Also, studies have found
measurable EPOC effects existed up to the 38 hour post-exercise mark6. What
does all that mean? The more intense your weight lifting session the longer
you’ll burn calories post workout so hit the weights hard.
5. Improved glucose absorption
Hyperglycemia, high blood sugar, is a major cause of complications with
diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk for many serious health problems such
as eye, foot, and skin complications, heart disease, and high blood
Strength training can help prevent and manage diabetes by
improving insulin sensitivity and glucose absorption7. During weight
training your muscles are emptied of stored sugar (glycogen), which allows
them to absorb sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream, thereby lowering blood
However, diabetics should use caution should because blood sugar
levels during or after exercise can drop dangerously low.
These aren’t the only 5 benefits you’ll receive from strength training,
but they should be enough to convince you to add strength training into your
routine if you aren’t already.
Disclaimer: Before you begin any exercise program, and before you follow
any of the advice, instructions, or any other recommendations in this
article, you should first consult with your doctor and have a physical
1 ^Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, ACE's Chief Science Officer; ACE FitnessMatters,
2 ^American Council on Exercise; What Are the Guidelines for Percentage of
Body Fat Loss? ; Natalie Digate Muth; December 2, 2011
3 ^"American Council on Exercise Personal Trainer Manual;" American Council
on Exercise; 2003
4 ^"NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training;" National Academy of
Sports Medicine; 2007
5 ^ Schmidt, Wilfred Daniel (1992). The effects of aerobic and anaerobic
exercise on resting metabolic rate, thermic effect of a meal, and excess
post-exercise oxygen consumption. Ph.D. dissertation, Purdue University,
United States -- Indiana. Retrieved March 30, 2011, from Dissertations &
Theses: Full Text. (Publication No. AAT 9301378).
6 ^ Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM (March 2002). "Effect of an acute
period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption:
implications for body mass management". European Journal of Applied
Physiology 86 (5): 411–7. doi:10.1007/s00421-001-0568-y. PMID 11882927.
7 ^ Soukup, J. et al. 1994. "Resistance training Guidelines For Individuals
With Diabetes Mellitus."
The Diabetic Educator 20:129-37.