We live in a society characterized by too little physical activity and too many passive pursuits. The predictable result of our inactive lifestyle is an almost unavoidable increase in body weight. Indeed, as assessed by body mass index (BMI), more than 65 percent of American adults may be classified as overweight or obese. However, because BMI calculations do not account for the components of lean (muscle) weight and fat weight, these ratings significantly underestimate the percentage of American adults who have unhealthy amounts of body fat. In fact, approximately 80 percent of men and women in their 50s and older have too little muscle and too much fat. Strength training is the best workout nowadays. Here are 14 benefits of strength training for both male and female. Strength training is not just for adult male and female, seniors can also try strength training to gain the lost muscle power.
What Researches Say About Resistance Training?
Research indicates that there is a critical cause-and-effect relationship between muscle loss and fat gain. Unless you perform some type of muscle strengthening activity, you will lose about 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of lean (muscle) weight every decade of adult life. Because muscle tissue is metabolically active 24 hours a day, the 5-pound-per-decade decrease in muscle mass typically results in a reduction in resting metabolic rate of 3 percent per decade.
A lower resting metabolic rate means that fewer calories are burned on a daily basis; therefore, more calories are stored as body fat. Because resting metabolism accounts for approximately 70 percent of the calories used every day, the metabolic slowdown is a major factor in fat gain during aging (Wolfe 2006). Due largely to the reduction in resting metabolic rate, the 5-pound-per-decade muscle loss is accompanied by a 15-pound-per-decade (~7 kg) fat gain. Mathematically, this represents a 10-pound-per-decade (4.6 kg) increase in body weight.
However, when you look at the real impact of 5 pounds less muscle and 15 pounds more fat, you actually experience a 20-pound (~9 kg) undesirable change in body composition. If you fast-forward from age 20 to age 50, the scale may show a 30-pound (13.6 kg) increase in body weight. However, over these 3 decades, the average 50-year-old has lost about 15 pounds of muscle and added about 45 pounds (20.4) of fat, for a 60-pound reversal in body composition.
Unfortunately, this major change in body composition adversely affects personal health as well as physical fitness. Problems associated with muscle loss and fat gain include obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, low back pain, and many types of cancer, as well as all-cause mortality.
14 Benefits of Strength Training for Male and Female
There are several benefits of strength training. From fat loss to the treatment of cancer patients strength training is versatile. Strength training helps to ease out your daily activities. Strength training for the female is the best workout to get toned up body. Most of the women suffer from losing muscle and with strength training you can easily remove your lose muscle and get toned up body. Strength training helps to gain muscle, this is extremely important to look masculine. Here are the top 14 benefits of strength training for both male and female.
Dozens of studies have demonstrated that a relatively brief program of resistance exercise (20 to 40 minutes per session, 2 or 3 days per week) can rebuild muscle tissue in people between 50 and 90 years of age. Most of these research programs have resulted in 3 to 4 pounds more muscle after just 3 to 4 months of strength training. We completed a large study to determine the effects of resistance exercise on body composition and blood pressure in which the major focus was on muscle rebuilding. More than 1,600 study participants (average age of 54 years) performed 10 weeks of carefully supervised resistance exercise.
Their strength training program required just 1 set of 12 standard resistance machine exercises, 2 or 3 days per week, using a weight load that could be performed 8 to 12 repetitions. Whenever participants completed 12 repetitions with proper technique, the weight load was increased by approximately 5 percent. After 10 weeks of regular training with this basic and brief exercise protocol, the participants averaged a 3-pound increase in lean (muscle) weight. We also found that both training frequencies (2 days/week and 3 days/week) produced the same lean weight gain, and there were no significant differences in the rate of muscle development among the younger, middle-aged, and older adult age groups.
Recharging Metabolism – Best Benefit of Strength Training
Resistance training has a dual impact on metabolic rate because it increases energy use during both the exercise session and during the muscle recovery and rebuilding period (up to 3 days after each workout). Because resistance training is a vigorous activity, relatively high levels of energy production are required for performing the exercises. For example, during a circuit strength training program, you are likely to burn 8 to 10 calories per minute, or 160 to 200 calories over a 20-minute exercise session.
Because of the high-intensity aspect of resistance exercise, you are also likely to burn 25 percent more calories during the hour after a circuit strength training session. So the same 20-minute circuit strength training session is actually responsible for burning 200 to 250 calories in an 80-minute time frame. However, there’s even better news. Research has shown that exercisers have a 5 percent increase in resting energy expenditure for 72 hours after resistance training sessions.
In a classic study, both a 15-minute strength workout (10 exercises × 1 set each) and 35-minute strength workout (10 exercises × 3 sets each) increased the trainees’ resting energy expenditure by 5 percent (approximately 100 calories per day) for 3 full days after the exercise session. This large elevation in resting metabolic rate is due to the muscle micro-trauma caused by resistance exercise and the resulting muscle remodeling processes that require relatively large amounts of energy for protein synthesis and tissue building.
This is why every pound of skeletal muscle in untrained individuals uses about 6 calories every day at rest compared to that of strength-trained individuals whose muscles use about 9 calories per pound every day at rest, for a 50 percent higher muscle metabolism. Many other studies have demonstrated even greater increases in resting metabolic rate (7 to 8 percent) after about 3 months of standard strength training.
The higher daily energy use is due to the development of new muscle tissue. At a daily energy cost of 9 calories per pound, 3 pounds more muscle increases the resting metabolic rate by almost 30 additional calories every day. The more muscle you develop through regular resistance exercise, the more calories you use daily for tissue repair, remodeling, and rebuilding processes, and this is reflected in significantly higher resting metabolism. Remember that resting metabolism accounts for up to 70 percent of daily calorie burn, so a higher resting metabolic rate is very beneficial for fat loss and weight management.
Strength Training Helps in Fat Loss
Most people experience fat accumulation during aging, even if eating patterns remain essentially the same. As you are now aware, the loss of muscle and the resulting reduction in resting metabolism account for much of the fat gain. Excess fat detracts from physical appearance. As mentioned earlier, high levels of body fat also increase the risk of numerous health problems, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, low back pain, and many types of cancer.
Fortunately, the same strength training studies that showed a 3- to 4-pound increase in lean (muscle) weight and a 7 to 8 percent increase in resting metabolic rate also demonstrated a 3- to 4-pound decrease in fat weight. Equally important, research reveals that resistance exercise is an effective means for reducing abdominal and intra-abdominal fat (especially in older men and women), which, among other benefits, reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. When coupled with a modest decrease in daily food intake, 10 weeks of basic resistance exercise can result in a 6- to 9-pound fat loss.
For example, in a study by Westcott and colleagues (2013), participants (average age 59 years) performed a standard strength training program and followed a moderate-calorie nutrition plan (1,200 to 1,500 calories/day for women and 1,500 to 1,800 calories/day for men). After 10 weeks, the older participants lost 9 pounds of fat weight and added 3 pounds of lean (muscle) weight for a 12-pound improvement in their body composition. They also reduced their resting blood pressure by almost 6 mmHg systolic and almost 4 mmHg diastolic, which is another excellent reason for combining a sensible strength training program and a sound nutrition program.
Reducing Resting Blood Pressure
Resting blood pressure plays a major role in cardiovascular health. Generally speaking, resting blood pressure should be approximately 120 mmHg during heart muscle contractions (known as systolic blood pressure) and approximately 80 mmHg between contractions (known as diastolic blood pressure).
Unfortunately, approximately one-third of American adults have high blood pressure (hypertension), which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It is, therefore, encouraging to learn that numerous research studies have shown significant reductions in resting blood pressure readings after 2 or more months of standard or circuit-style strength training. Most of these studies have resulted in lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings, with an average systolic decrease of 6 mmHg and an average diastolic decrease of 5 mmHg.
In our study of more than 1,600 men and women with an average age of 54 years, the relatively brief strength training program (1 set of 12 resistance machine exercises, 3 days/ week) reduced resting systolic blood pressure by more than 4 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure by more than 2 mmHg after just 10 weeks of training.
Although all exercise raises systolic resting blood pressure during the activity session, research indicates that sensible strength training produces elevations in exercise blood pressure similar to those seen with aerobic activities such as running and cycling. Consequently, unless your physician states otherwise, properly performed resistance exercise should be a safe physical activity that typically results in reduced resting blood pressure.
More Resources For Fitness Geeks
- Strength Training For Beginners! Complete Guide
- 10 Minute Full Body Workout You Can Do At Home
- 15 Healthy Food Hack For Healthy Life
Improving Blood Lipid Profiles
Blood lipid profiles are standard medical measures of the fat that is transported through the cardiovascular system. These include HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides. Almost half of the American adults have undesirable blood lipid levels, which increase the risk of heart disease.
Fortunately, a large number of studies have shown positive effects of resistance exercise on blood lipid profiles. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (2009), research has revealed favorable increases of 8 to 21 percent in HDL (good) cholesterol, favorable decreases of 13 to 23 percent in LDL (bad) cholesterol, and favorable reductions of 11 to 18 percent in triglycerides resulting from regular strength training.
Although genetic factors may influence the impact of resistance exercise on blood lipid levels, studies with older adults have been especially encouraging in this area. You can, therefore, feel confident that improved blood lipid profiles may be an important health benefit of strength training for adults of all ages.
Enhancing Post-Coronary Performance
Many older adults have had cardiovascular health problems, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, and heart surgery. Research has revealed that these individuals can perform appropriate resistance exercise safely and effectively. This is good news because strength training provides many health and fitness benefits to post-coronary patients.
In addition to reducing resting blood pressure and improving blood lipid profiles, resistance exercise has proved to be a productive means for attaining and maintaining desirable body weight, increasing muscle mass and strength, improving physical performance, speeding the recovery from a cardiovascular event, and enhancing self-concept and self-efficacy in post-coronary patients.
The increasing number of overweight and obese adults is essentially paralleled by an increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes. Unless current trends in these closely related health issues change for the better, it is predicted that by the year 2050 as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have type 2 diabetes (Boyle 2010).
Fortunately, people who have desirable body weights and moderate to high levels of muscular fitness have a very low risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Because muscles function as the engines of the body and serve as sugar (glycogen) storehouses, many researchers have examined the effects of resistance exercise on factors associated with diabetes, such as insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.
Almost all of these studies have shown significant improvements in insulin sensitivity and glycemic control after several weeks of strength training. As presented previously, resistance exercise also reduces abdominal and intra-abdominal fat, which appears to be particularly important for diabetes prevention.
The diabetes-specific benefits provided by resistance exercise have led researchers to conclude that strength training should be recommended for both the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes. In fact, the American Diabetes Association exercise guidelines call for resistance training sessions that address all of the major muscle groups, 3 days per week, with each exercise performed for 1 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions at a high intensity.
Increasing Bone Density
The National Osteoporosis Foundation (2009) states that approximately 35 million Americans have insufficient bone mass (osteopenia) and that another 10 million adults, 8 million of whom are women, have frail bones (osteoporosis). According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2004), osteoporosis will cause bone fractures in almost 1 of every 3 women and 1 of every 6 men.
Although many factors influence bone thinning, it is clear that muscle loss is closely associated with bone loss. Research reveals that men and women who do not perform resistance exercise reduce their bone density by 1 to 3 percent every year of adult life, which represents a bone loss of 10 to 30 percent every decade. Fortunately, strength training increases both muscle mass and bone mass.
Numerous studies have shown significant increases in bone mineral density after several months of regular resistance exercise. Interestingly, the rate of improvement in bone mass resulting from strength training is 1 to 3 percent, which essentially reverses the bone loss that would otherwise be experienced by nonexercising adults.
Although most of the strength training studies related to bone mass have been conducted with women, research with men has demonstrated even greater effects of resistance exercise, with increases in bone mineral density exceeding 3 percent. Clearly, regular resistance training is the most productive means for developing a strong and injury-resistant musculoskeletal system. When looking specifically at osteoporosis prevention, research indicates that strength training has a more potent effect on bone density than other physical activities (aerobic and weight bearing), which renders resistance exercise an important lifestyle component for aging adults.
Decreasing Physical Discomfort
Research indicates that a large percentage of people with lower back pain can reduce discomfort by strengthening their low back muscles. Although not all low back pain is associated with weak muscles, several studies have shown significant relief in most of their participants after performing 8 to 24 weeks of specific low back resistance exercise.
Strong low back muscles provide greater stability and support for spinal column structures as well as better shock absorption from landing forces such as running, jumping, and dancing. Resistance exercise has also proven helpful for people who have arthritis and fibromyalgia. Although the mechanisms responsible for the improvement of these maladies are not fully understood, research clearly demonstrates that strength training may result in reduced arthritic discomfort and pain associated with fibromyalgia.
Benefits of Strength Training To Mental Health
Mental health includes both psychological factors and cognitive abilities. Research has revealed significant improvements in depression, physical self-concept, fatigue, revitalization, tranquility, tension, positive engagement, and overall mood disturbance among adults and older adults.
Depression may be particularly problematic for people over age 50 because it can seriously decrease functionality. It is, therefore, encouraging to learn the findings from a Harvard University study in which 80 percent of the participants were no longer clinically depressed after just 10 weeks of resistance exercise.
In addition to numerous studies showing favorable psychological outcomes from strength training, research has demonstrated significant cognitive benefits from resistance exercise. Perhaps most prominent among these favorable findings is memory improvement in older adults.
Revitalizing Muscle Cells
Muscles function as the engines for the body, and mitochondria serve as the power sources of muscle cells. One undesirable aspect of the aging process is mitochondria deterioration in both content and function. Fortunately, studies have shown that circuit-style strength training, characterized by short rests between successive exercises, can increase mitochondrial content and capacity.
Research using a standard strength training protocol revealed regeneration of muscle mitochondria from a genetic perspective. Older individuals (average age of 68 years) who performed 24 weeks of basic resistance exercise had favorable mitochondrial adaptations in more than 175 genes associated with age and exercise.
In fact, after 6 months of strength training, the older adults’ mitochondrial characteristics changed so much that they were essentially the same as those of younger adults (average age of 24 years). These positive results led the researchers to conclude that resistance exercise can reverse specific aging factors in muscle tissue.
Reversing Physical Frailty
Even people well past the age of 50 can benefit from sensible strength training. Several studies have shown that reasonable amounts of resistance exercise can enable elderly adults to regain strength, fitness, and physical abilities. In a study of nursing home residents (average age 88 years), we found significant improvements in measures of functional capacity and performance of daily living activities.
The residents in this study performed 1 set of 6 resistance machine exercises with a weight load that permitted 8 to 12 controlled repetitions, 2 days a week (Mondays and Fridays) for a period of 14 weeks. These basic and brief exercise sessions produced remarkable results. On average, the previously frail study participants added 4 pounds of muscle and lost 3 pounds of fat, for a 7-pound improvement in body composition.
They increased their leg strength by 80 percent and upper-body strength by 40 percent, enabling them to do less wheelchair sitting and more walking as well as other physical activities such as bicycling. Similar studies with frail elderly individuals have revealed additional resistance training benefits, such as greater movement control and faster walking speed.
Benefits of Strength Training To Combat Cancer
Research from the University of Maryland indicates that resistance exercise may reduce the risk of colon cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer deaths, by increasing the speed of food transport through our gastrointestinal system. However, the majority of studies on strength training and cancer have addressed the role of resistance exercise in cancer survivors.
A comprehensive review of this research has shown that strength training is well tolerated by adult cancer patients and may provide a variety of health and fitness benefits during and after treatment. Most prominent among these benefits are reduced fatigue, increased muscle strength, improved body composition, and enhanced physical function (especially shoulder mobility in patients recovering from breast cancer).
Although more research is needed in this area, it would appear that resistance exercise may play a preventive role in some types of cancer and may produce positive physiological responses during treatment and recovery periods in other types of cancer.
Practical Application of Strength Training
If we were to compare the muscles of the body to an automobile, they would be analogous to the engine. As noted earlier, your muscles serve as the engines of your body, and strong muscles enable you to function better in all physical activities. Your muscles are also similar to the shock absorbents and springs in an automobile, and strong muscles help you to feel better because they protect joints from a variety of potentially harmful external forces.
Finally, muscles are like the chassis of an automobile because they largely define your appearance. Although excess fat can definitely detract from your appearance, your muscles actually provide your fundamental physique or figure. Consequently, strong muscles make you look better. If you would like to function better, feel better, and look better, then you should begin a regular resistance training program that progressively strengthens all your major muscle groups.
Without regular resistance exercise, you will continue to lose muscle and bone, and you will have further reductions in strength and fitness. Aerobic activity such as walking, running, cycling, and dancing are preferable for promoting heart health and cardiorespiratory fitness, but they will not prevent age-related reductions in muscle and bone. Continue to perform the regular aerobic activity, but be sure to complement your endurance exercise with sensible strength training.
Likewise, sensible nutrition is essential for general health, and dieting is far and away from the fastest way to lose body weight. However, excellent eating habits alone will not prevent the loss of muscle and bone or the continued weakening of your musculoskeletal system. Dieting can be particularly problematic because low-calorie diets decrease both fat weight and lean (muscle) weight.
The undesirable muscle loss results in the reduction of metabolic rate that makes it most difficult to maintain the lower body weight. In fact, research reveals that 95 percent of dieters regain all of the weight they lost within the year after their diet program. However, as you may recall, the older adults in our nutrition and strength training study concurrently lost 9 pounds of fat weight and added 3 pounds of lean (muscle) weight, for a 12-pound improvement in their body composition over a 10-week period.
Be sure to eat healthy and nutritious foods, with a reasonable reduction in caloric intake if necessary, but do not diet without performing appropriate resistance exercise. Remember that muscle gain is positively associated with increased metabolism and decreased fat.
Ideally, you should adopt a lifestyle that includes sound nutrition, regular aerobic activity, and sensible strength training. All of these complementary activities are essential for optimal health and fitness and especially for enjoying older adult years.
Most athletes engage in resistance exercise to improve sports performance. These include older athletes who run, cycle, row, swim, ski, golf, play tennis, and engage in other physically challenging activities. However, most people over age 50 are at least as concerned about their general health and fitness as they are about their athletic abilities. So, these were medically oriented and research-based 14 benefits of strength training
Men and women of all ages respond favorably to sensible strength training, which has been shown to improve many health and fitness factors associated with quality of life and quantity of years. There is no medicine that provides as many physical and mental benefits as regular resistance exercise does.