It’s All About the Muscle
It is all about the muscle! I am referring to strength training. There are many benefits of strength training that we are aware of and some we are not. For example, we reap the rewards of strength training with increased muscle mass and strength, as we already know, but we also benefit as we age with a reduced risk of osteoporosis. Ideally, these benefits will help motivate you to incorporate strength training into your weekly workout routine so you may immediately enjoy the benefits today and for years to come.
Did you know? Strength training may provide “up to a 15% increase in metabolic rate.” (Physical Activity, 2011) This is a huge benefit since it means you are increasing the amount of calorie burn even while you are inactive, such as sitting or sleeping. This is because muscle consumes a lot more calories than fat and the effects of strength training may even increase metabolism up to 48 hours after the workout; whereas in a cardio workout the effects may only last 30 to 60 minutes afterwards (Smith, 2013). Also, according to a study in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women, for example, burned about 100 more calories the day after an hour of strength training compared to when they did not strength train at all. (Healthline, 2013). Additionally, when you combine strength training with a cardiovascular workout, you may increase your calorie burn even further, which may help with weight loss as well as to help maintain a healthy weight.
Did you know? Strength training may change your body composition. Not only are you potentially burning more calories over time with strength training and possibly losing weight, but you also may change your body composition. I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase “use it or lose it.” This is because our muscles will naturally shrink if they are not being used and then, unfortunately, fat tissue replaces the muscle tissue. We are all too aware of those areas of our body that we would like to “tighten up.” If you include strength training as part of your workout regimen, then you are building your muscles to be leaner and stronger and may be trimming inches off of those areas. As a result, your jeans are going to fit even better!! Woohoo!!
Did you know? Strength training may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. As part of the aging process, we naturally develop bone loss. If you incorporate inactivity and a poor diet, then the rate of bone loss may reach 1% per year after age 40 (“Strength training builds,” 2014). This may not sound like much but if you are 40 and you do nothing over the course of 10 years, then you may have 10% bone loss by the time you are 50! On the positive side, strength training can play a big part in preventing bone loss even as we age. This is because bones love stress! You probably have heard that weight-bearing exercises such as walking, running or even stair climbing are good for our bones. Strength training fits into this category as well since it provides the stress needed to build denser and stronger bones. In fact, a yearlong study conducted on postmenopausal women showed “1% gains in hip and spine bone density, 75% increases in strength and 13% increases in balance with two days per week of progressive strength training” (Physical Activity, 2011, p. 1). Thus, even when you are building muscle with strength training, you are also protecting against osteoporosis and thus reducing the risk for falls and fractures.
Did you know? Strength training has been shown to modestly reduce high cholesterol and blood pressure and to reduce the risk of diabetes. (Harvard Health, 2010). The less stress on the heart, the better! Heart disease risk is lower when the body is leaner. Even the American Heart Association recommends strength training at least twice per week! Additionally, the risk of diabetes may also be reduced with strength training since muscle tissue is better than fat tissue at controlling blood sugar.
Did you know? Strength training is the number-one way to build more muscle. Most of us already know this, but it is good to reiterate since you cannot build as much muscle with cardiovascular activities. Also, as with bone loss, muscle mass naturally diminishes with age especially if we don’t use our muscles and then muscle strength is lost. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 30% of the strength people lose is attributable to age when comparing the differences between younger and older adults (“Get stronger, live better,” 2011). Thus, the remaining 70% of strength loss can be offset with strength training, which may preserve and enhance your muscle mass, regardless of your age.
Did you know? According to the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, “Resistance training serves as the driving force for a healthy life and is the main reason for improving athletic performance in various sports.” (Ae-Rim et al., 2014, p. 680). This is a powerful statement and it makes complete sense when thinking about all the above benefits. I think of strength training as an investment to a healthy future for the mind, the body and the soul. It is similar to investing money in the bank and watching it grow. Invest the time now by incorporating strength training a few times per week into your workout routine and you will see the positive results and reap the benefits no matter your age.
For more information on strength training, I recommend reading the following articles by Coach Vicky: Functional Strength Training for the Endurance Athlete and 28 Weeks to Turn Back Time.
Additionally, strength training is great to incorporate year-round; however, the type and volume of strength workouts included during race season should differ substantially compared to the winter months. Seek a professional coach from Experience Triathlon to ensure your strength training routine is inline with your race season goals.
Good luck and happy lifting!!
Cathy Obordo is a USAT certified Triathlon Coach with Experience Triathlon. As leaders in the endurance services industry, Coach Cathy and the Experience Triathlon Leadership Team help athletes of all ages and abilities achieve success in training, racing and life. Learn more about Coach Cathy and Experience Triathlon at www.experiencetriathlon.com.
Ae-Rim, H., Sang-Min, H., & Yun-A, S. (2014). Effects of Resistance Training on Muscle Strength, Endurance, and Motor Unit According to Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor Polymorphism in Male College Students. Journal Of Sports Science & Medicine, 13, 680-688.
Get stronger, live better: Benefits of weight training. (2011). Mayo Clinic Health Letter (English Ed.), 29(7), 1-3.
Harvard Health Publications by Harvard Medical School (2010). The health benefits of power and strength training, in Strength & Power Training, Chapter 2 (6-14).
Healthline Editorial Team (2013, May 6). Fitness and Exercise: The importance of strength training for women. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/health/importance-strength-training-women
Physical Activity: Strength Training for Older Adults – Why strength training? (2011, February 24). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/growingstronger/why/.
Smith, C. (2013, October 21). Does lifting weights burn more calories than cardio?. Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/295718-does-lifting-weights-burn-more-calories-than-cardio/
Staying Healthy: Strength training builds more than muscles. (2014, August 30). Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-builds-more-than-muscles