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The Benefits of Strength Training for Exercisers and Non-exercisers

The Benefits of Strength Training for Exercisers and Non-exercisers

You have been consistent. Your workout is a habit. Awesome!

Cardio can add years to your life. Strength makes those years fuller and more rewarding. It’s time to move on to the component of fitness that will give you the best results for time invested. Furthermore, if you only had time to do one thing for fitness, what should your priority be? Should it be cardio?

The Benefits of Strength Training for Everyone

Why strength? Why not cardio? Strength training overlaps to benefit many other fitness components. A strength workout can improve your endurance or your muscular endurance, but it does not work vice versa; a cardio endurance workout will NOT impact your strength. Do it right and strength workouts can improve flexibility, balance, core and spinal stability.

Strength gives your body shape, vitality, stamina, and the ability to do tasks of daily living and have extra energy left at the end of the day.

And that is just the beginning!

18 Additional Awesome Benefits of Strength Training

The benefits below are the compilation of years of research confirming and re-confirming these results. Even better: the research is based on moderate programs with participants averaging 2 or 3 days of strength training per week with only 1 set of 8-12 exercises that took about 30 minutes of time. You do not need to be a gym-rat or muscle-head to reap the multitude of strength training benefits!

Prevents Muscle Loss

We lose about 6 pounds of lean tissue (muscle) every decade starting in our 20s. The loss is even greater for men over 50 or menopausal women; it accelerates to about 10 pounds of lean tissue lost per decade. Ouch. Lean tissue has an impact on almost every system of the body. From your metabolic rate, to glucose metabolism, to gastrointestinal time, to your heart, lungs, and to your moods, retaining muscle is vital for your health and wellness.

Strength Training retains muscle mass

HELLO!! If you think you can skip your workouts for a while and just stay the same, think again. Furthermore, you will lose muscle mass as you age EVEN IF YOU DO CARDIO. Totally not fair, but without the stimulus to stay strong, you won’t. Sorry about the bad news. :/

Strength Training increases muscle mass

Adults who don’t strength train have lost muscle mass. For that matter, by age 16, most teen girls have started losing muscle mass. Strength training not only halts this cycle, but also improves body composition, with many participants exceeding the strength they had when they were much younger. There are many stories of women and men in their 60s and beyond who are stronger than they ever were as a young adult or even a teen.

Prevents a loss in Resting Metabolic Rate

The number of calories that your body burns when at rest is called your Resting Metabolic Rate. People who have greater amounts of muscle have a higher metabolic rate than those with less muscle mass. Every pound of muscle needs about 6.5 calories per pound per hour to sustain itself; fat burns only 1.2. Increased muscle mass = increased RMR. The average person’s RMR decreases about 3% per decade. Over time that loss has a profound effect on weight gain; those extra calories don’t go to RMR, they go to fat storage. Beat the odds by strength training. Which brings us to the next benefit:

Reduces Body Fat

Adding just 3 pounds of muscle increases your metabolic rate by about 7%! This is good news; keep your body strong to avoid fat accumulation.

Increases RMR temporarily through EPOC

A tough strength workout can raise RMR for a period of 2 to 48 hours, depending on the intensity of the workout; the harder the workout, the longer the transient elevation of RMR. The phenomenon is called Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). It is a temporary rise in metabolic function (excess oxygen required to normalize the body’s systems after a hard exercise session) resulting in extra calories burned. EPOC is influenced by the intensity of the exercise session, not the duration. Steady state cardio has very little impact on EPOC. EPOC can add 6% to 15% of the energy cost of a workout session.

Prevents weight gain

The wealth of research that confirms this fact is overwhelming. Even a moderate program over an 8-week period that was not geared for weight loss resulted in 3 pounds of lean mass gained, four pounds of fat lost, which changed body composition by a net 7 pounds.

About 75% of all Americans are overweight or obese with high body mass/body composition readings and almost 85% of all Americans need to rebuild muscle to recharge their metabolism to keep fat off. Strength training alone can reverse these alarming statistics.

Prevents loss of myokines

Myokines were first identified in 2008. They are small proteins that are produced and released by muscle cells in response to muscular contractions. Myokine receptors are on muscle, fat, liver, pancreas, bone, heart, immune cells and brain cells. They are involved in exercise-associated metabolic changes and participate in regeneration, repair, and maintenance of healthy bodily functioning, boosting immunity, as well as cell function. Physical inactivity and muscle disuse leads to a loss of this network promoting inflammation, insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, neurodegeneration, tumor growth, thereby promoting the development of chronic diseases. Strength training enhances production of myokines and has a profound effect on health and wellness in virtually every system of the body.

Prevents bone loss

An interesting study by Dr. Miriam Nelson of Tufts University showed that over the course of a year, the women who strength trained consistently for ½ hour just 2 times a week gained 1% bone mass. That may not seem like much, but the control group (those who did not do the strength training workouts) LOST 2% over the same period of time, giving the strength training group a 3% advantage.

Improves Glucose Metabolism

Research performed by Hurley and others confirms that after 4 months of strength training, glucose uptake was increased by 23% on average. Low muscle mass is linked with poor glucose metabolism which is associated with an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes and pre-diabetes have both been shown to be improved and even reversed through strength training.

Increases Gastrointestinal Time

Improved and faster gastrointestinal time is a benefit linked to risk factors associated with colon cancer.

Reduces Resting Blood Pressure

Strength training alone will decrease resting blood pressure. When supplemented with some cardiovascular exercise, the benefits are enhanced.

Reduces Resting Heart Rate

The benefits of lower resting heart rate has traditionally been attributed to aerobic exercise, but researchers have found similar benefits for those who strength train and do not participate in aerobic activities.

Reduces Incidents of Low Back Pain

Strength training makes you look good on the inside too. The low back loves to have strong musculature surrounding it giving it awesome stability and strength. Cardio not only does not make the low back stronger, in some incidents, poor posture during cardio will exacerbate low back pain. A good foundation of strength will allow you to hold good form and posture for the low back while performing cardio exercise; particularly cardio that is repetitive such as running or cycling.

Reduces Pain from Arthritis

Strength training can reduce pain from both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This is good news since most adults afflicted with this pain need strength training for other external and internal benefits.

Improves Mood

Aerobic exercise has traditionally overshadowed strength because of the “runner’s high” of endorphins. Strength training has been shown to decrease depression and boost mood as effectively as cardio exercise.

Improves Sleep

Researchers from Harvard, Texas Tech, and others have shown improvements in sleep in less that 10 weeks of compliance that affected all age groups and even those in their 80s. It’s no secret that as you age, it gets harder to sleep a full 8 hours, but these studies saw improvements in sleep for all participants.

Improves Blood Lipid Levels

It has been proven that strength training improves blood lipid levels as well as the ratio between blood lipid levels. HDL cholesterol (High Density Lipoproteins, the GOOD cholesterol) will increase with consistent strength training, improving the ratio between total cholesterol and HDLs. In most subjects total cholesterol levels decreased, LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins, the BAD cholesterol) levels decreased, and triglyceride levels decreased.


How much do I need?

Great news! The simplest answer: 2 workouts per week, 30 minutes per workout, 8 to 12 exercises targeting the major muscle groups.

How do I get started?

Pivotal Fitness and Eco Fitness have a multitude of classes and workouts that are a great starting point for strength training in a group setting. Our class schedule is online at www.pivotalfitness.com. Choose your club, find one of our many strength-based classes such as Barre Fusion, Definitions, Iron Cuts, or Body Pump, and show up! RedZone workouts have a strength component combined with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). These workouts will increase RMR through both intensity and gains in muscle mass.

The front desk can steer you to the best match, so call or stop by for more information. Our personal training team is not only are NCCA certified, but also many of our trainers have additional certifications in Behavior Change, Performance Training, Core Training, Fitness Nutrition, just to name a few. If you desire help with strength training and/or someone with specialty certifications, let the front desk know and our Fitness Manager will find the perfect fit.

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