If you’re reading this fitness blog, you already know that going to the gym and exercising has major health benefits.  And if you are regular at DUFF you know that weight training is a major part of that exercise program.  But did you know why we love those kettle bells and squats so much?

It turns out that beyond just making you stronger, incorporating strength training into your weekly workout regimen has benefits beyond toned muscles.  According to The Mayo Clinic, “Strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness for everyone.”  Beyond those buff dudes maxing out at the gym, The Mayo Clinic suggests that with muscle mass, if you don’t use it…you’ll lose it.  “Lean muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. You’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body if you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose over time. Strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass at any age.”   

And what are the benefits of maintaining muscle mass?  Livestrong sites a study from Boston University that shows that “type II muscle fibers, the kind you build when you lift weights, improve whole-body metabolism. The researchers concluded that an increase in type II muscle fibers can reduce body fat without changes to diet and might be effective in the fight against obesity.”  That means that not only are you adding muscle when you’re weight training, you’re shaving off fat. 

Women’s Health takes it even further by citing a study by Penn State, “When researchers put dieters into three groups—no exercise, aerobic exercise only, or aerobic exercise and weight training—they all lost around 21 pounds, but the lifters shed six more pounds of fat than those who didn’t pump iron. Why? The lifters’ loss was almost pure fat; the others lost fat and muscle.”

And think weight training is just for the young and buff?  Think again.  Forbes Magazine puts it this way, “Weightlifting has been shown to greatly help the elderly stay in shape by keeping the brain active and the nervous system and body attune to the coordination of movement. All of the above help to prevent Sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that begins in our 40s.”

But beyond just looking and feeling awesome, weight training will make your BRAIN work better. In fact, many studies cite it as an important step in recovering from depression.  According to PsychCentral.com, “The research tells us that strength training helps people experience a more restful night’s sleep, have more energy, slow down aging and ultimately, feel better. What’s more, young and old alike can experience a sustained mood lift from progressive resistance training over the course of time…[strength training] is effective way to cope with stress and it gives [one] a sense of personal empowerment over their body.”