Written by: Guest writer, Mathews McGarry
If you think gym Hulks are all bulk and little brainpower, you’d better think again. Muscle mass increase is one of the main reason why people sign up for the gym, but it’s not the only gain you’ll be scooping by embarking on a strength training journey. Resistance workouts work like a charm for long-term physical, mental, and emotional health – and here are the top five benefits strength workouts will bring you along with a sexy six-pack and Apollo-esque physique.
1. Shave Total Sleep Time
Stress has a nasty habit of robbing us of sound sleep, especially if paired with a sedentary lifestyle and less-than-healthy eating habits. Ditch counting sheep and start counting deadlifts and bench presses: according to a 2012 research by Sports Research Intelligence Sportive, resistance training can improve sleep by up to 30% in gym-goers suffering from sleep disorders. In addition to shaving inefficient Zzzz minutes and boosting sleep quality, strength training can also alleviate sleep apnea and reduce the frequency of wake-ups at ungodly hours of the night.
2. Fat Lost, Focus Gained
When stress hits the fan, don’t drown your frustration in the cookie jar: hit the gym instead. A 2011 study found that a single strength workout a week can increase cognitive power and focus by as many as 15%. Weight training is also a great way to flush stress and negativity from your system, and it can help you organize mental clutter and improve alertness and productivity at work. A brainpower boost is a sweet bonus on the list of strength training gains, and it certainly flies in the face of popular misconceptions about gym bros’ modest mental force.
3. Big-boned, the Strong Way
Together with genetics and dietary habits, a sedentary lifestyle is one of the main factors in the onset of late-life bone loss and osteoporosis. Enter strength training, a one-way ticket to strong bones: a 1994 study showed that high-intensity resistance training can help preserve mineral density and reduce the risk of age-related bone loss and osteoporotic fractures in postmenopausal women. Furthermore, a 1993 study found that strength training can up regional bone mineral density and bone remodeling in middle-aged and older men. Now, that’s a neat bone gain that goes both ways, wouldn’t you agree?
4. Boost Muscle Mass – And Mood
If you’re feeling blue, a quick trip to the gym may just help clear out those dark clouds and usher in a ray of sun. Strength training boosts release of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin (the so-called Happiness hormones), which is why psychotherapists often recommend visits to the gym to people suffering from depression, mood dips, anxiety, or seasonal affective disorder. Apart from improving your mental shape, regular workouts will also nudge your self-confidence and body image in the right direction: seeing a perfectly sculpted reflection in the mirror is a potent – and lasting – ego booster.
5. Strong Muscles for a Strong Heart
Abs, pecs, and triceps are not the only muscles resistance training will strengthen: your heart will be in for the gains, too. According to the American Heart Association, regular resistance and strength training hold the potential to improve cardiovascular health, restore heart health after stroke, and prevent recurrence of heart attack. Still, before you sign up for the gym, you should consult your doctor about the training intensity, duration, and frequency, just to stay on the safe side of the weight bar.
Strength training is not just about bulk building: it’s a pack of long-term health gains in a sweaty gym shirt. Don’t sit on the bench: take up resistance training, optimize your diet for maximum muscle gain, and let your workouts work for you in all aspects of your life. Besides, what have you got to lose, save for ab flab, cardiovascular glitches, sleep and mood disorders, and risk of chronic health conditions later in life. Grab the weights today and change your life for the better, and for good. You’re welcome.