Benefits of Strength Training
By: Julia Holsinger
“I can’t do it.” My muscles are straining against the weight and I shake under the effort. Every ounce of my body tenses as I grit my teeth.
“Yes, you can!” My coach shouts encouragingly. My friend across the room cheers me on. I drop the bar and reposition my hands. I can do this. I take a deep breath.
Lifting with all my might, I sense a slight raise. I pull, releasing a tiny growl as the two hundred pounds lifts from the ground. I lift it up to a standing position, wait for the coach to approve, then drop it with a loud clang that resonates throughout the gym. I had done it. I had done what I never would have imagined my body could do. This is when I first realized what it felt like to be strong. And I liked it.
Bulkiness, weight gain, and muscle definition serve as recurring excuses to not participate in strength training. Most women tend to avoid this type of exercise because it is not generally accepted in society. Many, men and women are skeptical as to the effects of strength training. Regardless, I decided to research the benefits. What I discovered was truly contradictory to these negative assumptions.
First of all, you must understand the definitions of these exe rcises. Strength and weight training are not powerlifting or bodybuilding. These types of training to do not require competition. People of all ages can participate without a public display.
Strength training implements the use of resistance to further the body’s development. Free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, and even just bodyweight, serve as valuable resources for this exercise (Gavin). Weight training presents a more specific category of strength training which applies weights as its resistance (Mayo Clinic Staff).
For both adults and teens, the precaution of visiting a doctor before practicing these exercises is crucial (Gavin). However, weight training has been proven beneficial for most adults and teens that do not suffer from any major diseases that would impe
de their development.
Before puberty, adolescents who weight train will become stronger but not gain much muscle mass. Testosterone will present itself post-puberty and allow the building of muscle, most evidently in males (Gavin). Although people of all ages can practice these exercises, some problems may present themselves most likely in adults.
Adults suffering from
heart problems, high blood pressure, or seizures should avoid doing these types of training unless specifically advised otherwise by a medical professional.
Along with strength training, in order to extract the best results, it should be accompanied by aerobic exercise and a healthy diet (Winett).
Also, you should perform these types of training in moderation with an established, manageable schedule. Two to three times a week is a good amount, especially for beginners (Gavin). The US National Library of Medicine states that research “indicates that virtually all the benefits of resistance training are likely to be obtained in two 15- to 20-min training sessions a week” (Winett).
Furthermore, weight training has proven to help an athlete improve at their sport, progressing both endurance and hand-eye coordination. With the aid of weights, you can also become more aware of their body and how it moves, an important aspect by which you can develop ease in your everyday movements and ability to balance (Braverman).
Training your muscles helps lower the risk factors of many functions such as blood pressure and insulin resistance (Winett). Increasing good cholesterol and encouraging a healthy cardiac future are a few more benefits included (Agatston 93).
Finally, strength training introduces a natural mental vitalizer, helping to reduce depression and strengthen the mind overall. Persistence in this exercise sprouts to every other part of your life as well (Braverman).
Proper technique is critical in order to produce positive effects and prevent injury (Mayo Clinic Staff). “The best way to learn proper technique is to do the exercises without any weight” (Gavin). This allows less resistance and easier adaptability when weights are added.
The benefits of strength training are endless. First of all, lifting weights improves the muscle-to-fat ratio of the body, which raises metabolism and aids in fat loss (Agatston 93). It also strengthens bones to prevent osteoporosis, an especially important benefit for women because they are born with tinier bones (Braverman).
However, strength training, specifically weight training, can be harmful to some select individuals. Those with abnormally unchecked high blood pressure should avoid this type of training (Sheps). Likewise, younger children who have not fully-developed should not exercise with heavy weights in order to preserve their growth plates and prevent premature injury (Mayo Clinic Staff). All people, regardless of whether they face these problems, should visit a medical professional prior to training.
However, in the end, the benefits far outweigh the possible disadvantages. When done properly and safely, in moderation, and along with a healthy diet, strength training can make a world of difference in all aspects of life. I believe all able-bodied humans should incorporate strength training into their schedules in order to improve their overall health. So get going!
Agatston, Arthur. “Exercise.” The South Beach Diet, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2005, p. 93.
Braverman, Jody. “13 Benefits of Weightlifting That No One Tells You.” Livestrong, Leaf Group Ltd., 1 March 2018, https://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1008208-13-benefits-weightlifting-one-tells/?slide=1.
Gavin, Mary L. “Strength Training.” TeensHealth, The Nemours Foundation, August 2018, https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/strength-training.html.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 23 Feb. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/strength-training/art-20046670?p=1.
Mayo Clinic Staff. “How to Start a Weight-Training Program.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Sept. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/weight-training/art-20047116.
Winnet, Richard A and Ralph Carpinelli. “Potential health-related benefits of resistance training.” US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, NCBI, November 2001, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11676593.