How Strength Training Benefits Your Whole Body
Strength training builds strong muscles—that’s a no-brainer. And when you work your upper body, core, and lower body, as the Curves circuit does, you build total-body strength that makes even the activities of everyday living easier, whether that’s walking up and down the stairs at home or work, carrying groceries, or lifting your grandchild. But strength training helps in other ways too. Here are four powerful rewards:
A Lean Figure
With regular strength training, you not only gain muscle, but you also lose fat. Anytime you exercise, you burn calories from carbohydrates, fat, and protein, so while you’re working out, you are burning some percentage of fat. The beauty of strength training is that it boosts fat burn when you’re not exercising, and it does this in two ways. First, the extra muscle you add increases your resting metabolism. In addition, after every workout, your muscle needs to repair all the micro-damage you’ve caused while exercising (which is how you get stronger) and that rebuilding process requires energy.
“The increase in calorie burn after a strength workout continues for three full days,” says Wayne Wescott, PhD, professor of exercise science at Quincy College. And the greatest percentage of those burned calories comes from fat. When you’re moving, your body prefers glycose because you need energy fast, but when you’re at rest, it’s easier and more practical to burn more fat calories. “The largest studies show that, typically, with 1 pound per month of muscle gain, over the first 6 months of strength training, you will see 1 to 1 ½ pounds of fat loss,” says Wescott.
Your bones might seem inanimate, but they are constantly changing. Cells called osteoclasts gobble up old bone tissue, while other cells called osteoblasts lay down new bone. “Unfortunately, as we age, the osteoclasts outperform the osteoblasts, and our bones weaken,” says Wescott. “But strength training can reverse that.” Strength exercise stresses your bones, which stimulates osteoblasts to come in and provide reinforcement with new tissue.
A Healthy Back and Joints
Back pain is one of the most common medical problems, and strength training can help prevent it and even relieve it. “Strong back muscles—the erector spinae—help keep your spine in proper alignment,” says Wescott, “And they provide additional shock absorption.”
Strong muscles also help support your joints and can prevent arthritis as well as ease joint pain.
A Strong Self
Research tells us that self-esteem soars among those who commit to regular resistance workouts, and that should come as no surprise. Think about it—you’re physically stronger, and you can see that strength in muscle tone, in better day-to-day function, and in the improvements you make in your strength training program. Regular strength training improves your health, your weight, your mood, and it gives you more energy. And that’s a lot to feel good about.