If cardio is the foundation of a good workout, then strength training could be considered the building blocks that take your workout to the next level. Strength training plays a crucial role in not only enabling you to achieve your cardio goals, but also in your overall health. The following items are just some of the ways strength training can pump up your workouts while making you healthier.
Strength training can actually make your bones stronger. Stress on your bones adds to bone density and can help present osteoporosis and arthritis. Tufts University completed a study in which older men and women with severe knee osteoarthritis underwent a 16 week strength training program. Results found that the participant’s pain decreased by 43%, while showing improvements in the clinical signs and symptoms of the disease. Those with rheumatoid arthritis have also been shown to benefit from strength training.
Strength training helps you burn more calories. If you build your muscle mass, you will increase the amount of calories you burn even while resting. Muscle is metabolically active tissue, meaning it burns more calories to function. According to WebMD, strength training is especially crucial for dieters. Losing weight may mean a loss in muscle mass, which slows metabolism. Strength training can rebuild muscle lost by dieting -- or prevent the loss of it in the first place. Plus, model-worthy toned arms, abs and legs can’t happen without some time lifting weights.
Strength training can help with your cardio efforts by increasing your stamina, power and speed. Strength training conditions your body by building the muscle groups needed to handle prolonged use during cardio. Focus your weight lifting on the same muscle fibers used during the activities or sports you play.
The CDC especially encourages older men and women to strength train for the benefit of balance, and cites a study in New Zealand in which women 80 years of age and older saw a 40% reduction in falls with simple strength and balance training. Also, some studies are calling into question whether strength training is actually better for flexibility than stretching alone. Flexibility not only requires the ability to stretch to a certain motion, but also the strength to hold and maintain that position, which is where strength training can be helpful.
Taking care of the ligaments and tendons around the joints used in exercise is crucial in maintaining a healthy body. Strength training can program your muscles to react in a certain way to different types of stress placed on them. This can help the muscles around a joint develop to provide proper stabilization of the joint. Strength training can also help a muscle or joint from moving in a harmful way in reaction to an unwanted movement.
With all of these health benefits, it’s no wonder strength training is widely promoted. Add it as part of your 2012 workouts and see the far-reaching effects for yourself.