Cardiovascular workouts are important too but there are many valuable benefits to strength training too. Find out what these are.
One thing to note is that there is actually a difference between lifting weights and actual repetition and weight ranges for improving strength instead of endurance, mass, or power.
While the positive effects are very similar, this does influence to what extent you get certain of the benefits below.
1. Strength training can grow and strengthen muscles
Your muscles are very adaptable tissues.
By pressuring them with enough weight and repetitions and then giving your body enough rest and nutrients, you can grow and strengthen your muscles.
In turn, this leads to a variety of health and visual benefits.
Something to note is that strength training repetition and weight ranges are slightly less good for building muscle than “hypertrophy” ranges where you do more repetitions and less weight.
That being said, most types of strength training can still offer nice progress in this area too. Especially for resistance training beginners.
2. Strength training can help you lose weight
Most people turn to cardiovascular workouts for losing fat but you want to know that strength training can also be good for weight loss for a variety of reasons.
First of all, moving heavy weights tends to require more energy from your body than activities where you mostly sit still or even the same movements without weights.
Something like a bodyweight squat will burn fewer calories than a weighted variation where you hold 220 pounds (100 kg) on your shoulders.
Secondly, strength training can help you build muscle mass.
This extra mass will make you burn more calories throughout the day and the rest of your workouts.
In short, strength training can help you increase your energy usage a lot.
This makes it easier to get in a situation where you use more energy than is coming in from food which would lead to weight loss.
If you are really interested in this benefit of strength training, you mainly want to go for movements like compound leg exercises or other options that work big muscle groups.
3. Strength training can improve cardiovascular health
While you can typically divide workouts into different types of exercise, there is often some overlap too.
For example, when doing a heavy strength training exercise like deadlifts, you will definitely feel your heart, lungs, and blood vessels work harder.
Depending on your current cardiovascular health, this could be enough to actually strengthen these parts of your body.
4. Strength training can reduce your injury risk
Injuries happen because your body parts are not strong enough to deal with the challenge you throw at them.
You can approach avoiding injuries in two main ways.
First of all, you can change what things you do.
Secondly, you can strengthen your body with something like strength training to be better prepared for challenges.
One study divided 30 soccer players into two groups. One of the two groups performed extra hamstring resistance training 1-2 times a week for 10 weeks.
They observed that the group that did resistance training had a lower occurrence of hamstring injuries (7).
5. Strength training can improve your mood
Not everyone is aware of it but the way you move your body has an impact on your thoughts and mood too.
More specifically, a big review of strength training concluded that this type of exercise can significantly reduce depressive symptoms among adults (11).
On top of that, the other health benefits of strength training also mean you reduce your risk of conditions that would make you feel less good.
6. Strength training can improve cognitive function
Besides mood, strength training can improve other mental processes too.
First of all, it can reduce your risk of conditions like Alzheimer’s that involve worse cognitive performance (12).
A specific study observed improvements in cognitive performance in older individuals after 2 to 3 days of strength training a week for 6 months (16).
In turn, you can say that doing more strength training workouts can improve things like academic performance, job performance, and more.
7. Strength training can improve your bone density
Many people get the impression that bones are just pieces of static material inside of your body.
However, your bones can actually change in terms of details like density by changing your habits in certain lifestyle areas.
In turn, you can reduce your risk of breaking your bones. Both in the next few weeks and the next few years.
Generally the heavier the weights you lift (safely), the more strength training can improve bone density. One of the benefits of going to the gym is that you won’t lack the resistance to make this happen.
Another thing worth noting is that you can expect density improvements in the bones you pressure the most. Something like a bench press will not really improve leg bone density.
8. Strength training can be time-efficient
While you will still have to spend some time doing your repetitions, it is fair to say that strength training workouts tend to be relatively time-efficient.
Especially people who are new to strength training can already get a lot of strength, bone density, and muscle size improvements from short workouts.
This is because you basically have to apply enough pressure to these body parts to send “a signal” to your body to start repairing and strengthening them.
Even more experienced lifters consider training legs 3 times a week to be a lot.
9. Strength training can slow down aging
While you exactly have one birthday party a year, you can also measure your age in different ways based on internal factors (20).
In turn, these aging measurements are sometimes closely related to the risk of a variety of diseases. As you get older, your risk of these increases.
On top of slowing down these measurements, strength training helps you reduce the risk of these diseases in other ways too.
10. Strength training can improve your sleep
It only takes a few nights of bad sleep to realize that this area of your lifestyle has a big impact on things like your mood, cognitive function, and health.
In simpler words, improving the quality and duration of your sleep will benefit you in a variety of other ways.
More specifically, one review of studies observed significant improvements in sleep quality and duration from doing strength training (27).
One thing to note is that exercising intensely right before bed can be suboptimal in these areas.
If you have the option to choose, you likely want do your strength training workouts more than two hours before you plan to go to sleep.
11. Strength training can improve balance and coordination
This next benefit of strength training will apply more to some exercises than others.
However, it is still fair to say that strength training will generally improve your balance and coordination by challenging you in these areas.
Something like a squat with a heavy barbell on your shoulders requires a good amount of effort in these fitness components.
Besides just reasoning this is the case, you can also see these principles applied to real-life studies.
One small study suggests that bodyweight resistance training exercises may be more useful than pilates for improving coordination (28).
In turn, having better balance and coordination can reduce your risk of bumping into things and even falling down.