There is a ton of information out there touting the benefits of strength training, but instead of sending you on a cyber-scavenger hunt or having you wade through someone else’s philosophy, I’m going to share my top 10 reasons you need to move heavy sh*t, including but not limited to your very own body weight—
- Bone density. Use it or lose it. Seriously. When you put stress on your bones through resistance training, a.k.a., strength training, your bones will lay down additional calcium to support the skeleton. Conversely, if you spend most days lifting nothing heavier than a handbag, your bones will become thin and fragile. How would you prefer to age? With strong, able bones or with brittle, easily broken ones? In short, strength training will prevent osteopenia and osteoporosis. For women, this alone is an excellent reason to strength train.
2. “That toned look.” Otherwise known as “that sculpted look.” You will look amazing from lifting heavy sh*t. Increased muscle mass is such an aesthetically pleasing look, the ancient Greeks, Romans, Renaissance Italians and so many others have sculpted this particular physique in marble. Over and over again. With chisels. The good news for women if you haven’t heard it by now is that you WILL NOT bulk up from double cleaning those 16 Kilo kettlebells or wood-chopping with an 18-pound medicine ball. So say so-long to that 8 kilo bell and that 10-pound ball and go for the heavy sh*t.
3. Fierce independence. No thank you, I can manage these grocery bags myself. And this Dyson vacuum. And this stack of lawn chairs, screaming toddler and case of beer. It might seem like, duh, but the thing you gain most readily from strength training is strength! It’s not just about “that toned look.” It’s also about being stronger than you were yesterday, last month, last year; and being able to fend for yourself with ease.
4. Self-esteem. If you’ve ever been unsure of yourself, the endorphin rush you’ll experience from strength-training, plus the simple but gratifying accomplishment of moving heavy sh*t is guaranteed to increase your sense of self-worth and decrease stress, anxiety and depression. When you uncover your power, slouching will cease to have a place in your posture repertoire. You’ll be happy to take up more space, whereas before you may have wanted to shrink. Your stable, strong core will also contribute to your confident stance, and in turn, your outlook on just about everything will grow more and more optimistic.
5. It’s natural. Our bodies were not meant to sit for eight hours a day. They were meant to move (and to be fueled with nourishing, delicious, real food). Celebrate what the universe gave you instead of letting it waste away. Invest in your future happiness. Respect your body by conquering push-ups, pull ups, pistols, squats, deadlifts and other compound muscle moves, and live a long, healthy, vibrant life.
6. Metabolism. Your body’s ability to metabolize food into expendable energy will increase from strength-training not only during your workout but for hours afterward. Increasing your muscle mass will turn your body into a fat-burning machine.
7. It’s ridiculously efficient. Try this experiment. For two weeks, trade your hour-long cardio routine for a half-hour of body-weight exercises like pull ups, assisted pistols, Bulgarian split-squats, handstand or plank holds, push-ups and triceps dips. Spend just 90 minutes a week doing nothing but strength-training and watch the magic happen way faster than it ever could with hours of treadmilling, jogging, stair-mastering or barre classes.
8. Energy boost. When your body packs more lean mass, you possess the energy required to deal with the kids and the spouse; the office and the housework; the socializing, shopping and general relentless assault that is our modern life. You might still fall asleep while putting the kids to bed, or experience an afternoon slump, but those dozy times will cease to be habitual, daily occurrences. Bonus: you’ll also sleep better at night.
9. The ultimate disease-prevention regimen does not come in a package or prescription. It’s comes in steel, iron, flesh and bone. Strength-training will improve your cardiovascular health, decrease arthritis and back pain and prevent diseases like coronary artery disease, diabetes and disorders like hypertension. It has a profound effect, when combined with proper nutrition for decreasing your potential for weight-gain and obesity. It just might keep you from prescription medications that may do more harm than good.
10. Grace and brains. Okay this one’s a two-parter, but 10 is a lovely round number and I’m sticking to it. That said, you’ll fall down less and break fewer glasses. And with improved cognitive function, you’ll be able to kick ass on Words with Friends and little things, like remembering where you left your keys. All because you moved heavy sh*t from one place to another.
In my next post, I’ll give you the top strength-training exercises that you can do at home with little to no equipment so you can start reaping the benefits right away.