Although in previous decades, average individuals saw no reason to engage in weight training, more and more people are lifting weights than ever before!
Strength training is not just about lifting weight, it’s about improving aspects of the mind, body and health, either in preparation for an event, competition, personal goal or simply growing older. Indeed, it’s been reported that inactive adults experience 3% to 8% loss of muscle mass per decade (1) which has a negative knock on effect for our metabolism and also increases accumulation of fat. Worse so, this decline increases to 5-10% each decade after the age of 50 (2)
Sarcopenia is the term related to age-related muscle loss which unfortunately is also associated with bone loss (3), diabetes (4), metabolic syndrome (5) and all-cause mortality (6). With the growing problem of sarcopenia and the accumulating evidence that strength training promotes muscle gains in both men and women of all ages, leading researchers are advocating all individuals to partake in sensible strength training. In particular review articles indicate that maximal strength benefits can be obtained from the use of heavy loads while hypertrophy can be equally achieved across a spectrum of loading ranges (7). Either way lifting weights is proving to be very beneficial!
As well as increasing functional muscle mass, strength training also increases blood flow around the body, and improves bone health, tendon and ligament health and cardiovascular fitness. Outside of body improvements, strength training is normally performed in a social environment resulting in communication with other likeminded individuals, increases individual drive to be successful and ultimately release a river of endorphins (the happy hormone) around the body.
Researchers have also found that when individuals have improved focus on strength training, attention to improvements in nutritional intake also improves. Ultimately this is a win:win combination, accumulation of strength training sessions combined with improvements in nutrition will really see some great changes moving forward.
In summary, lifting weights and participation in strength training will result in a cascade of physical and psychological benefits. Time to head down to the local gym and embark on pumping some iron!
- Westcott, W. L. (2012). Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 11(4): 209-16.
- Marcell, T. J. (2003). Sarcopenia: Causes, consequences and preventions. J. Gerontol. A. Biol. Sci. Med. Sci, 58:911-6.
- Nelson, M. E., Fiatatrone, M, Morganti, C., et al. Effects of high intensity strength training on multiple risk factors for osteoporotic fractures. JAMA, 272:1909-14.
- Flack, K. D., Davy, K. P., Huber, M. A. W., et al. (2011). J. Aging, Res, 2011:127315.
- Strasser, B., Siebert, U., Schobersberger, W. (2010). Resistance training in the treatment of metabolic syndrome. Sports Med, 40:397-415.
- Fitzgerald, S. J., Blair, S. (2004). Muscular fitness and all-cause mortality: prospective observations. J Phys. Act. Health. 1:17-8.
- Schoenfeld, B. J., Grgic, J., Ogborn, D., Krieger, J. W. (2017). Strength and hypertrophy adaptations between low- vs. high-load resistance training: A systematic review and Meta-analysis. J Strength Cond Res, 31(12):3508-3523.