Over the past few years strength training, weight lifting in particular, has become very near and dear to my heart.
It helped me to feel confident in my body and my abilities again, it made me feel capable and independent, and it also made me feel pretty bad ass, throwing a heavy barbell over my head.
Strength training can look like a lot of different things.
Anything that puts a stress on your body causing it to adapt to be stronger, is technically strength training. Pilates, weight lifting, crossfit, body weight training, callisthenics, etc are all examples of strength training.
Today I'm talking about weight lifting specifically, where you lift dumbbells, barbells, etc to become stronger.
Keep in mind though, if lifting barbells and dumbbells isn't your jam, you can build strength in many other ways like I mentioned above; pilates, dance, body weight training, etc.
But without further ado, here are my top 3 benefits of strength training:
Why Strength Train?
1. Strength Training Increases, well, strength!
When I started lifting weights I kind of forgot I wouldn’t just get stronger in a gym setting, but I’d be stronger in normal day-to-day life too.
It’s funny, the goal was (and still is) to build up the amount of weight I can lift in the main compound lifts; squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, barbell row, and pull up.
I wanted to show up and work hard to increase my numbers and I found it fun to work toward a goal, that was really it.
I realized though, that in time, the benefits of being strong stretched far beyond the bubble of the gym.
For example, I recently had to get the winter tires out of the back of my vehicle (I know.. I’m one of those people that drive around with winter tires in the back of their vehicle for way too long…), and put them in the shed. I was dreading lugging these big SUV tires around, but you know what? I found that pretty easy and I felt pretty strong lifting them.
I carried a bed frame out of a bedroom to help my mom in her renovation project. I thought it would feel bulky and challenging to move, but it actually felt pretty easy.
And when I was walking what seemed like a million stairs while traveling last summer, I was thanking my body for being strong enough to take me to such beautiful places.
Being strong is important for a full and independent life. It’s not necessarily about picking up a barbell to put it back down. That’s fun and I love weight lifting, but I love being capable in my life too.
This is part of the reason I’ve become so passionate about strength training and why I think everyone should incorporate it into their fitness routine, especially women as strength training used to be deemed ‘manly’ and would make women ‘bulky’, but that’s for another day.
Muscle mass gradually decreases with age too, and so strength training is especially important to maintain your strength and independence later in life.
Don’t be afraid of strength training! It has a ton of benefits and if you feel intimidated by a barbell, start small, find a trainer you trust, and just know that you are capable of more than you think you are.
2. Strength Training Increases Bone Density
Strength training increases bone density and decreases your risk for osteoporosis.
As you move weight and use your muscles, the contraction of your muscles causes a pulling on the bone. This pulling on the bone causes the bone to become stronger so it can withstand the force that you’re putting on it.
You know what they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it, and this is very true for bone density. Your body is smart and will only put energy into maintaining the parts of you that are required to do your daily activities. If you’re not stressing the bone, the bone will never have a need to build itself up stronger.
As we age, our bone density naturally decreases and strength training has been shown to slow this process and even reverse it.
In saying this, while there are very real reasons for bone loss into old age such as lowered testosterone for men and lowered estrogen during menopause for women, I often have to ask myself, do we actually lose bone density as we age, or have the majority of us just stopped doing things to maintain bone density, like weightlifting?
Either way, it’s important to do things that keep your body strong and healthy, like lifting weights. We don’t need to sit back and let the aging process just happen to us, we can play a role in our health.
Move your body, lift weights, your body will thank you.
3. Strength training teaches you that you can do hard things
Lifting weights isn’t always easy. In fact, if you’re pushing yourself to create change in the muscle it will likely be challenging.
This isn’t a bad thing.
Overcoming challenges when you want to quit or when it would be easier to throw in the towel will remind you that you can do hard things.
I love the saying ‘choose your hard’. Not exercising is easy, but then developing chronic illness due to lack of activity is hard. Sitting at home and scrolling instagram is easy, but feeling like you aren’t chasing your goals and feeling unfulfilled is hard.
Choose your hard.
Nothing in life is easy in the end. If it’s easy now, it will likely be hard later. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather put in the effort now to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilled life later.
Not to mention, strength training has a ton of other benefits like feeling great and having more energy. It’s a win-win really.
So what are you weighting for? (You’re welcome to those of you that love puns and I’m sorry to those of you who don’t)
But seriously. What are you waiting for? You got this.
What's your experience with strength training? Let me know if the comment section below!