I’ve been running for years now. It’s an essential part of my health and fitness—and even my business. But if you’re like me, there could be something missing from your workout routine.
Almost two years ago I set some significant health-related goals, and I hired a personal trainer to help me reach them. He evaluated my routine and we agreed the main thing I needed to add was strength training.
I had known about the value of strength training for almost a decade. In fact, I practiced it faithfully when I first began running. But then I let it slide. I kept thinking I would get back to it on my own. I knew what I needed to do; I just couldn’t seem to get started.
Hiring my trainer made all the difference, and pretty soon I was reaping the rewards of resistance training again. And the rewards are big. If you’re not hoisting, pulling, lifting, or pressing, you’re missing out.
It’s easy to assume that the main reason for lifting weights is building muscle mass. But the best benefits of strength training have nothing to do with bulking up. Here are five of the most significant. And as far as I’m concerned each of these are powerful reasons to add strength training to any workout routine.
- Better metabolism. This was a big one for me, especially as I age. Even with running, my body had settled into a rut. I wanted to boost my metabolism, but I couldn’t get a breakthrough. My trainer said strength training would help, and he was right.
Weight loss. Faster metabolism means shedding pounds. Running burns a lot of calories. But, as Reuters reports, “unlike cardio activity, strength training will continue to burn calories up to 72 hours after the exercise is over through a phenomenon called after-burn.” The right mix of diet, cardio, and strength training have helped me make the progress I want to see.
Strengthened bones. Not only does strength training boost metabolism and burn calories, it also builds bone density and strength. If we’re not careful, after age 40 we can start losing about 1 percent of bone mass every year. Not me, not anymore.
Improved mental function. In a world where intellectual capital is king, one way to stay ahead of the curve is staying mentally sharp. Not only does strength training improve memory, a review of several studies shows that it helps with executive function, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and more.
Heightened well-being. Here’s the best thing. After adding strength training to my exercise routine, I feel great. And I don’t just mean physically, which is true. But strength training does wonders for our emotions and psychological health.
I love a long run. Love the way it makes me feel and what it does for my health. But having learned the benefits of strength training and seen how it’s already improved not only my health but my mental energy, creativity, and more, I can’t imagine letting it slide again.
How often do you have to strength train? It differs for everyone, depending on physical factors, but experts say we can see a benefit with just one day a week. Right now I’m up to three days a week.
I spent decades of my working life oblivious to the fact that my physical health had a direct impact on my professional success. I’m glad to have figured it out now and only wish I had known earlier in my career.