#1: Lifting wimpy weights gets you nowhere. To get stronger, you need to “overload” your muscles with weights that you don’t handle on a daily basis.
Studies show people sell themselves way short when picking their weights—they tend to be 30 to 50 percent lighter than is necessary to build strength and muscle.
#2: Strength training is the best activity you can do to build bone and reduce fracture risk.
Studies show former athletes who included weight lifting as part of their workouts have much stronger bones as they age. This translates into a 50 percent lower chance of fracture in men, and a 20 percent lower fracture risk in women.
#3: Strength training improves hormone balance and reproductive function.
Besides the well known acute increase in testosterone that men experience from lifting, training leads to better regulation of the hormones related to hunger and energy use. It also improves estrogen metabolism, and balances stress hormones such as cortisol.
#4: Strength training improves quality of sleep so that you wake up fewer times during the night and can go to sleep more easily.
The reason is that training reduces inflammation and supports circadian rhythms. It’s been found to benefit both good sleepers and those with insomnia.
#5: Working out makes you more successful at work and school. Studies show college students who train get better grades, and professionals who lift make more money.
This might be because exercise builds confidence and self-worth. Of course, it also enhances appearance, which is known to correlate with wealth and professional success.
#6: Strength training helps you be your own champion. It’s the perfect way to kickstart other healthy behaviors.
You start lifting and you get more in tune with your body, which makes you want to eat better so you fell energized when you wake up in the morning. You become one of those people who everyone looks up to because you seize the day.
#7: You can strength train anywhere—you don’t need a gym.
Try bodyweight exercises, sprints, or stairwell runs when you don’t have weights handy.
#8: Strength training has a dramatic effect on insulin health and blood sugar function.
By building muscle, you increase both the receptivity of the muscles to insulin and their demand for glucose. This contributes to better body composition and diabetes prevention, and savvy doctors are pairing weight training with a high-protein diet to cure diabetes.
#9: Strength training is most effective for reducing body fat when you pair it with a smart diet that leads to a reduction in energy intake.
#10: Strength training primes the nervous system so that you react faster and have a quicker first step.
It will reduce your risk of tripping and falling and will increase your chance of avoiding a dangerous situation when behind the wheel.
#11: Strength training has repeatedly been shown to correlate with lower risk of a number of cancers. Might be because your percentage of muscle tissue is a primary predictor of survival from cancer.
Better hormone balance also plays a role. For instance, teen girls who exercise experience the greatest reduction in breast cancer risk later in life because physical activity optimizes estrogen metabolism.
#12: You can’t lose fat from an area like your abs by doing crunches. Same goes for thighs—you don’t directly lose leg fat from squats.
What happens is you build muscle in your abs by doing total body lifts, and in your legs by doing squats. This makes them look firmer and leaner. To lose the fat that covers up the muscle, you train the whole body and optimize your diet.
#13: Kids of all ages (well, over age 6) can train. Workouts should be age appropriate and carefully monitored by a coach with experience training youth.
Strength training can set kids up for a lean, healthy life and ease the awkwardness of puberty by improving coordination and the experience of being in a changing body.
#14: Strength training makes your brain work better. This means you’ll be smarter, but you’ll also feel happier and have less risk of depression.
In fact, exercise may be just as good as antidepressants for treating mild to moderate depression.