For many, weight training calls to mind bodybuilders pumping iron in pursuit of beefy biceps and bulging pecs. But experts say it’s well past time to discard those antiquated notions of what resistance training can do for your physique and health. Modern exercise science shows that working with weights may be the best exercise for lifelong physical function and fitness.
Preliminary research calls into question the old adage that stretching improves flexibility more than resistance training. "Our results suggest that full-range resistance training regimens can improve flexibility as well as, or perhaps better than, typical static stretching regimens," says James R. Whitehead, EdD, of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
"A lot of people believe that if they don't want to look like a bodybuilder, they shouldn't perform resistance training," says Michael Rebold, Director of Integrative Exercise Sciences at Hiram College in Ohio. "So the only form of exercise they do is aerobic – and then they wonder why they are having trouble making significant improvements in their health…building muscle bulk requires specialized and intense training and nutrition, and it doesn't happen on accident,” Rebold adds.
Before your next workout, consider these 11 science-backed benefits of strength training:
The most time-efficient and productive exercise program is one based upon the principles of High-Intensity Training (H.I.T.) Productive exercise must be of a threshold level of intensity, as any level below this threshold will not stimulate maximal results. As a result, H.I.T. exercise sessions will be comparatively brief and infrequently performed (as opposed to conventional exercise sessions).
From the time you are born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your 30s, you start to lose muscle mass and function. The cause is sarcopenia with aging. Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you’ll still have some muscle loss.