According to the Mayo Clinic researchers now believe that gaining muscle mass to strength training will generate benefits beyond the actual exercise period itself. In other words, by doing strength training and gaining leaned muscle mass, individuals are able to make a positive impact on their overall health and well-being. There are quite a number of benefits of gaining lean muscle mass which should help to motivate each of us who finds that lifting weights or using resistance training can be a little boring. (1)
If your goal is not to become the next Mr. or Mrs. Universe, but instead to improve your overall health and gain some of the benefits of lean muscle mass then it is time to also make a change in the way that we feel about strength training. For most normal people we don’t have to go to the gym to do strength training and improve the amount of lean muscle mass we have in our bodies. With just a few inexpensive pieces of equipment we can actually accomplish our goals at home.
For instance, with the purchase of a small hand weight set and resistance bands most women can build lean muscle in their upper and lower extremities. The overall cost of these hand weights and resistance bands will definitely be lower than a trip to the gym two to three times a week. However, some of us also require the added support and structure which we can achieve at the gym. Gyms also have fitness trainers, televisions mounted on the walls and you can drag your best friend along to keep you motivated and accountable.
Either way you look at it, at home or at the gym, most individuals should be able to find a few extra minutes in their day two to three times a week in order to increase the amount of lean muscle mass in their body and take great advantage of the significant positive effects it has on our health.
In our younger years the majority of our body was made of muscle. However, with each passing year those muscles shrink as fat is added without the stress placed on them by weights and strength training. Strength training is a general term that has become synonymous with weightlifting and resistance training. Physiologically it produces increase in muscle size, improve muscle tone, increase muscle strength and an increase in tendon, bone and ligamental strength.
One of the biggest benefits of strength training is an increase in physical performance. While this physical performance may be important for an athlete it can also be important for weekend warrior or the young mother who must lift her infant each and every day. Performance is only defined on an individual basis and is always important in our daily living activities. Our strength and endurance will contribute to improvement both in sports, hobbies and our work.
Another benefit of increasing lean muscle mass is to improve overall appearance which directly influences self-esteem and our level of self-confidence. Strength, muscle tone and metabolism will improve. This gives an individual a fit appearance, improves their self-confidence and increases the number of calories burned each and every day, even at rest.
Research has found that we all lose one half a pound of muscle every year after the age of 30 which actually reduces our basal metabolic rate. (2) This means that our bodies use less food and, eating the same amount of food that we did before, we continue to gain weight. We can reverse this process by incorporating strength training into our exercise routine which helps to increase the amount of calories burned.
Improving our lean muscle mass also decreases the risk of sustaining an injury. Whether we are participating in a sporting event or not, we are at greater risk of injuring ourselves, even climbing the stairs, when our lean body mass is lower. Our muscles serve as shock absorbers and also help to balance ourselves. Well conditioned muscles will lessen the repetitive landing forces when we do weight-bearing exercises such as playing basketball on the weekend or going for a long walk with our best friend.
Strength training will also help to improve bone density over time. The correct amount of bone will be laid down appropriately when we stress the bone through exercise and lifting weights or using resistance training. As we age our bones to generate faster than new bone is built. We can slow that process, which is normal, by incorporating strength training.
Some women are concerned that they will become big and bulky using strength training. This is not possible for us to reasons. Number one women do not have enough testosterone in their body to bulk up without training for hours and hours and dedicating their lives to becoming a bodybuilder. Number two, in order to bulk up you have to train for hours and hours. In other words, women will not bulk up using simple resistance training or strength training to build lean muscle mass. Instead, they will look better in their clothes, appear more toned and fit as well as walk taller and stronger.
Strength training also reduces the risk of coronary artery disease and aids in the rehabilitation and recovery of any injury. While strength training will help to prevent injury it will also help in cases where injuries are unavoidable to be rehabilitated more quickly.
Strength training also helps us to age gracefully. As we age we have less likelihood of falling and injuries if our bodies are lean and towns. Strength training enhances our muscles and reduces body fat which helps prevent sagging in other body parts!
There are a multitude of reasons why strength training should be added to your exercise regimen. In fact, researchers also found that those who cannot, or do not have the time, to perform cardiovascular exercise should incorporate strength training and stretching to gain some of the same benefits.
(1) MayoClinic.com: Fitness: Strength Training
(2) University of New Mexico: Sarcopenia: The Mystery of Muscle Loss