Why Strength Training Should Be Part of Your Exercise Routine

Exercise comes in many different forms.

Examine most American homes and chances are good that you’ll find at least one piece of cardio equipment.  (Unfortunately, you’ll probably also find it adorned with various layers of clothing, dust, cobwebs, or any combination thereof.  But that’s another story.)

In working with patients over the years, I’ve noticed a disproportionate amount of household treadmills, ellipticals, steppers, and the like compared to the amount of good ol’ steel plates and bars, or at the very least, resistance bands.

If you are not utilizing resistance training as an integral part of your exercise regimen, you are missing a huge piece of the health and fitness puzzle.  Why?

I’m glad you asked:

Functional Multi-Joint Weight Training Translates Perfectly to Everyday Life

When you become proficient at basic barbell and dumbbell moves such as the squat, dead lift, clean, overhead press,etc. you are essentially training for life.  Every day necessitates that we pick things up off of the ground, squat to sit down and stand back up again, get something on or off of a high shelf, and so on.  When you practice these moves against resistance, daily tasks become less of a chore, not to mention a much less likely source of injury.

Resistance Exercise Strengthens Bones

We all know that weight training builds muscle.  But did you know that it strengthens your bones as well?  Bones are living tissue, just like muscles and tendons.  The more healthy forces you place on your bones, the stronger and more dense they will become.  This is of particular importance to aging women, who are in some cases at higher risk of developing osteoporosis.  There is no more efficient or healthier way to maintain bone density than consistent resistance training.  Not medicine. Not supplementation.  So drop the toxic once-a-year magic pill and pick up the bar instead.

Resistance Training Helps You Burn Fat

I see it time and again.  People want to burn fat so they spend hours on end running on a treadmill or elliptical.  While their cardiovascular system may become more efficient, it is doing so inside what still amounts to a pudgy body.  Diet issues aside, you simply will never reach your maximum level of fitness or “leanness” if you are not building muscle mass.  When your proportion of lean muscle mass goes up, so does your metabolism, making your fat burning sessions, and even your rest periods for that matter, that much more efficient.  Remember, there is a big difference between skinny and fit.  Skinny is simply a lack of mass on your frame. Skinny is weak. Fit is the correct proportion of mass in a compact unit perfectly tailored to your frame.  Fit is strong.

Strength Training Builds…Well, Strength

Of course it does.  It’s implicit in the name, right?  But the key here is what that does to your confidence and your psyche.  Now, I’m not talking about being the guy at the gym who struts around like he has invisible shelf brackets under his arms.  That’s not confidence, that’s insecurity. Instead, I’m speaking to that person deep down inside of you who need not be on display to anyone but yourself.  There is something empowering about completing physical tasks with half the effort that it used to take.  In doing things that nobody, yourself included, expects you to be able to do.  In knowing that you are at your absolute physical best.  Inevitably, this confidence spills over into other aspects of your life as well.

Weight Training is Goal-Oriented

Lifting a loaded barbell or a pair of dumbbells is very absolute.  You are moving a set amount of weight from point A to point B.  The lift either gets done or it doesn’t.  If it doesn’t, you have a definite goal weight in mind to complete that specific lift.  If you do perform the lift properly, you now have a new weight to shoot for.  The power of achieving a goal, even one as simple as lifting 5 more pounds, can not be overstated.  Goal setting is one of the most powerful things you can do to enhance your life.  If you do not already set regular goals for yourself, weight training can get you into the habit of doing so.

If you are not employing resistance training as a means of building physical strength and personal power, I highly suggest doing so.  Seek out a reputable lifting coach or personal trainer who can competently instruct you on the proper execution of basic lifts and exercises.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly your fitness will progress when you add in resistance training.  Who knows, it might even motivate you to clean off your elliptical clothes rack as well.




*Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net 



Dr. Joe Tsai is a chiropractor and health coach dedicated to helping you live up to your maximum potential. You can contact him directly at drtsai@backtolifechiro.com.