Top 4 Benefits of Strength Training

By Steve Hall

June 5, 2020

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The benefits of strength training are plentiful. Exercising and living an active lifestyle has many positive impacts on one's life. As little as 2.5 hours per week can make a difference in your health and well-being. Strength training is a great form of resistance training that can build strength, gain muscle and burn fat. From changes physiologically to changes psychologically strength training can enhance one's quality of life in ways beyond the obvious.

What is strength training?

Strength training is a form of resistance training that induces muscular contraction to build strength, endurance, muscle mass and bone density through physical exercise. Strength training encompasses a variety of exercise types for the overall goal of strength and conditioning.

what is strength training

Things like pushups, pull-ups, lunges, resistance training on an indoor rowing machine, climbing, jumping and throwing can all be considered parts of strength training alongside the more commonly known modality of weight lifting.

One of the main benefits of strength training is to push the body through adaptation by stimulating the neuromuscular system through a progressive systematic training plan. Depending upon your goals strength training programs can be custom tailored to meet your specific demands. For example, athletes partaking in specific sports will tend to gear their strength training routines for that particular activity.

What are the benefits of strength training?

The most notable benefits of strength training are increases in strength, muscle mass and decreases in body fat. However strength training has a slew of other benefits that are often overlooked. Outside of the gym strength training can play a significant role in one’s mental and physical health plus decrease the risk of injury and chronic health problems.

1. Strength training makes you more flexible

strength training makes you flexible

Somewhat of an obvious statement but one of the main benefits of strength training is increased strength. By following a progressive systematic training regimen and employing the concept of progressive overload the body will adapt and grow stronger over time. However there are additional physiological benefits that come with this increase in strength.

Since the body is learning to adapt to the stimuli it can slowly make changes internally which results in greater bone density leading to stronger bones assisting in the prevention of injury, increased range of motion through and flexibility in the muscles and joints.

Moving the body through its full range of motion is the simplest definition of flexibility. Being flexible lets you elongate or stretch all your soft tissues. Maintaining control during movement combined with flexibility is the body’s ability to have what is considered a dynamic range of motion. One of the benefits of strength training will always be flexibility.

Strength training also increases proprioception (perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body) leading to better balance. Balance is when the body is in equilibrium. It is stable and muscles are firing efficiently. Dynamic balance is when you can change directions in any condition without falling. Internal and external factors that maintain the body’s centre of gravity make up one's ability to remain balanced.

Proper posture is another one of the benefits of strength training. Proper posture is a result of being properly balanced. Proper alignment keeps the kinetic chain intact. Any alterations in the kinetic chain affect movement. Affected movement creates poor movement patterns. Poor movement patterns lead to inefficiencies and imbalances.

2. Improves heart health

strength training improves heart health

Due to the demands strength training places on the body the benefits of strength training include increases in heart and cardiorespiratory health are another benefit of strength training. Your heart rate is a good indicator of your health. It can tell things like overall cardiorespiratory fitness levels based on resting heart rates. Heart rate readings during activity can indicate how the body is responding to physical exercise.

Cardiorespiratory health is responsible for gauging the body’s ability to use oxygen; it also provides insight into the level of intensity one can endure. VO2 Max readings are the most valid measurements of one’s cardiorespiratory system and the uptake of oxygen. However a VO2 Max reading isn’t always practical as it requires special equipment and a trained technician. Therefore additional methods exist for generating approximate fitness levels. Estimated VO2 max levels can be calculated by a lot of smart fitness watches on the market.

The benefits of strength training are in the results of the types of exercises often associated with strength training require proper shuttling of blood and oxygen through the body in order to properly supply the muscles with the nutrients they need to efficiently perform the task.

3. Strength training Gets Rid Of 'The Belly'

strength training slim waist

Keeping excess weight off and shaping your physique is one of the benefits of strength training. Through training our bodies change and become more efficient at utilizing energy. Strength training can not only help you reduce your weight, keep it in check or build strength and muscle it can stoke the fires of your metabolism and get you running at optimal levels.

When you’re training, your body requires more energy to handle the demands efficiently. You obviously burn calories whilst performing strength training but the added bonus is that your body continues to burn calories afterwards.

This is a process called "excess post-exercise oxygen consumption" or EPOC. This basically results in more calories being burned during exercise and more calories burned after exercise whilst your body is recovering. 

4. It has psychological benefits too!

There have been studies that found the benefits of strength training include large boosts in energy, improved mood, better sleep quality and decreased anxiety. It's also used to treat depression.

strength training healthy mind

This is partly due to the elevated level of endorphins which will lift energy levels. An increase in energy follows an enhanced state of well being. This enhanced state of well being reduces anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues and more. It’s the neurochemical and neuromuscular responses that positively enhance the brain. 

I've also heard that there have been studies that conit said that doing strength training has the same effect as taking a little bit Prozac and Ritalin!

How can you get started with strength training?

Getting started with strength training isn’t complicated. Before jumping into things you need to establish a baseline by performing a fitness assessment. This is probably one of the most valuable benefits of strength training, learning about yourself.

get started with strength training

Fitness assessments provide an understanding of your strengths, weaknesses, capabilities and limitations. They collect information regarding your health, lifestyle, heart rate, body composition, cardiovascular ability, posture and functional limitations. Having this understanding will help you create a program that can best achieve your goals.

Once a fitness assessment has been completed you’ll then be ready to begin a training program. For most there are a slew of training programs out there but some of the more popular beginner strength training programs follow the 5x5 methodology.

The 5x5 methodology is a tried and true method for building strength, gaining muscle, and burning fat.

Based on routines created by bodybuilder Reg Park and strength coach and powerlifter Mark Rippetoe, this routine is geared towards the lifter that wants to lay a solid foundation for sculpting their dream physique.

The 5x5 training method follows the ideas of progressive overload where you slowly increase the load placed on your muscle, putting your body in the ideal state to evolve. Progressive overloading consists of adding weight in small increments only if the previous workouts sets and reps are successfully completed.

A basic 5x5 training program consists of two lifting days, Day A and Day B. Each day will have its respective exercises. Both days will be the basis of this routine and will contain all 5 of the movements necessary to building strength, gaining muscle, and burning fat.

The 5 movements are the squat, deadlift, bench press, barbell row, and overhead press.

squat meme

Beginners strength training routine

Here is a breakdown on how your workouts will go for the next 12 weeks.

Day A consists of the squat, bench press and barbell row. Day B will consist of squats, overhead press and deadlift.

Yes, you will be squatting a lot! Trust me it’s not as scary as it seems. Each set consists of 5 reps. You’re going to do 3 warm-up sets and 3 working sets.

Remember at first this routine is all about form but as you get accustomed to the movements it's about lifting as heavy as you can without breaking form. By doing so you build strength in the muscle and the tendons as well as prime the body for future progression in athletics.

Here is what your workouts are going to look like:

Day A

  • Squat
    • 2 sets 5 reps light weight
    • 1 set 5 reps moderate weight
    • 3 sets 5 reps working weight
  • Bench Press
    • 2 sets 5 reps light weight
    • 1 set 5 reps moderate weight
    • 3 sets 5 reps working weight
  • Barbell Row
    • 2 sets 5 reps light weight
    • 1 set 5 reps moderate weight
    • 3 sets 5 reps working weight

Day B

  • Squat
    • 2 sets 5 reps light weight
    • 1 set 5 reps moderate weight
    • 3 sets 5 reps working weight
  • Overhead Press
    • 2 sets 5 reps light weight
    • 1 set 5 reps moderate weight
    • 3 sets 5 reps working weight
  • Deadlift
    • 2 sets 5 reps light weight
    • 1 set 5 reps moderate weight
    • 1 sets 5 reps working weight

Alternate your workout days for each week. Week 1 will begin with Day A and end with Day A (ex. A,B,A). Therefore week 2 will begin with Day B and end with Day B (ex. B,A,B).

At some point in time you will hit a plateau. It will happen and this is something you will have to deal with. In order to break past this point you will have to use what is called de-loading. De-loading is removing weight and working your way back up to your sticking point.

Let’s say you’re building some impressive strength and your lifts are going up each week. Then all of a sudden, bam you hit a wall. Your bench increased to 280 pounds but for some odd reason you just cannot skate past the mark. To start, pull off 5 to 10 pounds. Which would drop you back down to 275 or 270 and work your way back up.

If you get stuck again drop off about 15 pounds and work your way back up.

You will be surprised to see how much stronger you will feel and how much more confident you will be under the bar.

Conclusion

There you have it. A basic synopsis of the benefits of strength training and a sample training program to get you well under way. Simply put, strength training is a method of training that progresses through increased loads and training modalities promoting health, fitness, and sport specific performance. Through strength training you can improve not only the way you look, how strong you are, how you feel physically and mentally but also stave off chronic disease and injury.

The techniques and suggestions mentioned prior are the extensive research of many industry professionals. There are many great books on these topics that can take your knowledge to the next level.

Now that you have been armed with the basic tools to sculpt your dream, get out there and get to it. Always stay true to form and lift with intensity. Make every rep count.

Godspeed my fellow barbeller!

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Steve Hall

Steve is a strength training fanatic who geeks out over the best, most efficient workouts, nutrition and gear to help get you stronger and healthier!

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