How many of you skip the free weights thinking they are only for bodybuilders or those trying to add muscle?
If lifting weights is not a part of your weekly exercise plan this email will provide 5 major benefits of weight training (besides bigger & stronger muscles!)
1. Improved Insulin Sensitivity
In simple terms, insulin sensitivity is the body’s ability to utilize carbohydrates in a proper and efficient manner. Those with good insulin sensitivity will metabolize and store carbs in muscle cells, fueling hard workouts and recovery.
On the other hand, if you have poor insulin sensitivity they will remain in the bloodstream which can damage your cells and lead to excess fat gain. Over the long term this can lead to metabolic diseases, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.
Luckily, studies have shown that weight training can improve markers of insulin sensitivity in a variety of populations (Ahmadizad et al., 2014; Holten et al., 2004; Ishii et al., 1988; Hansen et al., 1998)
For example, even just 12 weeks of resistance training, 3 times per week for about an hour per session, has been shown to drastically improve markers of insulin sensitivity, reduce blood sugar levels and insulin levels!! (Croymans et al., 2013).
2. Burn More Calories (Even When You Sleep!)
Muscle mass is a highly metabolically active tissue. Unlike fat tissue which is dormant, muscle mass requires fuel and energy in the form of calories to be maintained and function.
rAdding more muscle to your frame will actually boost your metabolism and require more energy to provide daily movements and activity. Over the long term, this helps you burn more calories and improves your insulin sensitivity!
For example, just a 2 pound increase in muscle tissue may raise resting metabolic rate by about 20 calories or more per day!! (Strasser & Schobersberger, 2010). This means 10lbs of muscle can boost your daily energy expenditure by 200 calories, which equals over 20LB of weight or fat within 1 year!
3. Heart Health
Cardiovascular disease is among the leading causes of death in the US and it is estimated that 1/3 of Americans have high blood pressure (Ong et al., 2007; Lloyd-Jones et al., 2009).
While people are often quick to recommend cardio, one 2011 literature review concluded that, “weight training is at least as effective as aerobic endurance training in reducing some major cardiovascular disease risk factors” (Singh et al., 2005).
For instance, a recent review of 12 studies calculated the average changes of weight training as a drop of −6.0 mm Hg systolic and −4.7 mm Hg diastolic. Even these small improvements can play a BIG role in improving heart health and general health! (Cornelissen & Fagard, 2005).
4. Combat Age-Related Decline in Muscle Mass
One key health issue that occurs with age is a condition called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is an age-related decline in muscle mass that can lead to loss of muscle function, reduced strength and loss of daily independence and functionality.
For instance, in a healthy but sedentary elderly population, adding just 2 weeks of weight training (3x per week) increased muscle mass, decreased fat mass and increased strength compared to the control group (Devries et al., 2015).
5. Stronger Bones
If you think milk is the only thing that can make your bones stronger, then keep reading …
Research has found that adults who do not perform weight training may experience a 1% to 3% reduction in bone mineral density (BMD) every year of life. If you do the math, that quickly adds up over 30, 40 or 50 years! (Wescott, 2012)
Without getting too complex, just like our muscles would adapt, the load that weight training places on your bones stimulates positive adaptations and reinforcements – remember, your body is a survival machine – helping your bones to grow bigger and stronger.
In one study male students who weight trained 3x per week for 24 weeks were found to have an increase in BMD (bone mass density) between 2.7 and 7.7%, depending on the area of the body trained (and that’s in less than half a year) (Almstedt et al., 2011).
It’s clear that if you spend time weight training in your younger years you are therefore less likely to experience age-related declines in bone mass and the onset of diseases like osteoporosis.
Hit the Weights and Reap The Rewards
As you can see there are endless benefits from weight training, some of which can’t be obtained from cardio training alone. While we are certainly not saying cardio or aerobic exercise is bad, you will get the best results from a regular combination of both weight training and cardio training on a weekly basis.
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