If you want to live a long, healthy and independent life, then strength training should be a cornerstone of your weekly movement. That doesn’t mean you have to be in the gym squatting, deadlifting and bench-pressing every week. It just means that you need to move your muscles against resistance regularly.
You might be familiar with the benefits of strength training for aesthetic goals; after all, it enables you to change your body composition completely. But there are even greater lifestyle benefits beyond just looking incredible.
Here are four reasons why strength training is for everybody.
Any exercise will improve your lung and heart health and give you a better chance of living to a ripe old age; several studies list strength (or lack thereof) as an indicator of early mortality. In addition, strength training increases bone density and gives your body a reason to hold onto muscle, making you more robust and injury-proof.
If you want to live an active, independent life in your twilight years, then start strength training now. Your body will not retain strength and muscle without regular stimulation. If you don’t use it, you will lose it, and the older you are, the harder it will be to get back.
But it’s not just about the future. You will experience the benefits immediately. After all, in the words of Mark Rippetoe:
“Strong people are harder to kill and more useful in general.”
Maybe being harder to kill isn’t a strong motivator for you, but being more useful shouldn’t be underestimated. Modern life is very nice and comfortable; being strong and active is less and less of a requirement to get by. The problem is that you will still occasionally need to move something heavy (i.e. boxes, furniture) or assist someone physically. It’s very nice and useful to do these things without injuring yourself.
Strength training makes almost every daily physical exertion easier.
It’s incredible how often people see others lifting weights, and their first thought is:
“That’s dangerous; they’re going to injure themselves.”
Purely because of the weight on the bar. You think strength training is dangerous? Try not doing it – way worse for you. Sitting down for most of your life or just doing cardio is not giving your core, back, and neck muscles the stimulation they need to stay strong and solid.
Pick up heavy things, often, to bullet-proof your core. Good strength training is very unlikely to injure you, and you’ll reduce your chances of injury when you’re going about your everyday life.
This is less of a ‘reason to’ and more objection counter. Many people of every gender have said to me: “I don’t want to get bulky. I want to tone up”. What they’re really saying is: “Max, I’m trusting you not to turn me into the Incredible Hulk because I’m not sure about these exercises you’re suggesting.”
Lifting weights will not make you bulky by accident, ever. I know people trying extremely hard to add a few lbs of muscle per month to their frame. They lift lots and lift heavy, but most importantly, they eat like horses. It doesn’t happen by accident.
Strength training will enable you to do more with what you have through neuromuscular adaptations. This means becoming stronger by using more of your existing bundles of muscle fibres through repetition. You can get stronger without gaining weight, and you can even get stronger whilst losing weight. It’s highly likely that every person you look up to for their athleticism or physique, strength trains.
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