Strength training or resistance training is form of exercise where the individual uses resistance to the free contraction of his/her muscles, by adding some weight. The weight could be in the form of his/her body weight, or heavy objects that must be lifted, pulled or pushed.
Accordingly, resistance training exercises are of 2 types:
Isometric: Here, the resistance comes from a non-moving object such as the floor, as in the case of push-ups, or a stationary bar as in the case of pull-ups.
Isotonic: Here, the resistance comes from moving, pushing, pulling or lifting heavy weights
Weight–lifting is a very effective form of strength training and provides all the benefits of resistance training.
Burn belly and overall fat better:
Compared to cardiovascular exercises like walking, swimming, cycling and calisthenics, weight training is better at building lean muscle or lean body mass. Also, while cardio exercises burn fat during the exercise, weight training increases what is called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC. This means, you are burning fat even after or between exercises. Effectively, you are burning fat all through your day.
Burn more calories all the time:
Not just fat, weight training also burns more calories compared to cardio exercises. The higher rate of metabolism that comes from adding more lean mass means you are burning more calories than before. This helps you manage your weight better without having to resort to diets which only compromise your nutrition.
Improve bone health and muscle mass:
Every time you contract a muscle, it pulls the bones connected to it. This triggers the bones to produce structural proteins and move minerals into your bone. This means, weight training not only helps strengthen your bones, it can also help create new bone mass. This is useful to people of all age groups as bone mass and bone density reduce with age. And it’s particularly useful to middle-aged women who tend to lose bone mass rapidly after menopause.
Boost your cardiovascular health:
Cardio exercises are not the only ones good for your heart health. Weight training reduces visceral fat that deposits all around the vital organs of the body. It also helps reduce blood pressure, and increase triglycerides as well as HDL or ‘good cholesterol’. All these reduce the risk of hypertension, stroke and heart disease.
Increase your strength and stamina:
The reduced fat and increased lean muscle mass means you are able to carry out your daily functions with ease now. This is a big boost to athletes, sportspersons, runners, marathoners and just about anybody pursuing sports.
Improve your body mechanics:
In addition to the increase in muscle mass and bone density, weight training strengthens the connecting tissues, tendon and joints. This increases your overall flexibility, improves your posture, balance, muscle coordination, and prevent injuries from falls.
Manage chronic disease better:
Strength training is an excellent anti-dote for chronic diseases like osteoporosis, arthritis and type-2 diabetes. Weight training increases bone density, and reduces arthritic pain or inflammation. It also improves the ability of muscles to absorb and utilize glucose, which helps combat type-2 diabetes.
Reduce the risk of cancer:
Visceral fat is known to trigger a cancer causing protein called Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 (FGF2), so a reduction in visceral fat reduces the risk of cancer. Further, muscle mass tends to reduce with age, a condition called as sarcophenia. Cancer patients with a high degree of sarcophenia are at a higher risk of the need for toxic chemotherapy, faster progression of cancer and lower survival rate.
Increase energy levels, sleep better:
Like other exercises, strength training too
increases the level of endorphins produced by the brain. A higher level of endorphin is associated with improved energy levels and mood. Weight training also helps you sleep better and overcome insomnia.
Improve cognitive health:
The higher rate of metabolism leads to more blood flow to the brain thereby improving all mental functions and memory. Further, endorphins triggered by weight training are known to reduce the symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety.
In addition to the above benefits, weight training is known to increase lifespan, improve immunity, self-esteem and overall well-being. Invest in a personal trainer who specializes in weight training and you can enjoy these benefits for a long time.