Why Is Strength Training Important?
By Vishwanthar on Training
April 9, 2009
Fitness enthusiasts may ask why on earth one should lift weights and why they can’t get away doing some aerobic activity like walking and jogging. Scientific studies have stated that vigorous weight lifting may elevate calorie burning even after many hours after the session. Whereas, the recreational exerciser who walks for 30-60 minutes or jogs for 20-30 minutes typically returns to a baseline of energy expenditure within few hours after performing the activity. It means that aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, and aerobic classes performed regularly using more or less the same intensity and duration will return to the baseline very soon; On the contrary, a strenuous strength training session burns more calories. Strength training builds muscle which in turn increases the resting metabolic rate; resting metabolic rate is the amount of energy expended while at rest, as more muscle we carry the more calories we burn. Since muscle is metabolically a very active tissue and burns more calories, it increases the metabolic rate. The post workout energy expenditure is also elevated for a much longer period in relation to aerobic activity depending on the intensity of the strength training session, which means that a workout of higher intensity would burn more calories for more hours following the workout.
But, if the aerobic activity is performed with high intensity the energy expenditure can be for many hours. For example, performing high intensity interval training can have the same beneficial effects of a a vigorous strength session. In addition, aerobic activities can be carried out by individuals practicing strength training as an important tool in the recovery process, as aerobic exercise has been touted to increase the cardiovascular efficiency. Aerobic exercises increase the blood stroke volume as a result of a much healthier heart. With increased blood stroke volume, comes greater oxygen uptake. Increased oxygen uptake causes oxygen to be utilized in the body more efficiently resulting in faster recovery from strenuous workouts. But performing strength training outweighs any aerobic activity in many respects; the benefits of strength training are outlined in the subsequent paragraphs.
Those who support aerobic activity over strength training are being fascinated by the benefits they provide towards heart health. This has resulted in overlooking strength training, as it has been supposed to merely aid in building muscle with no other advantages. Dr Mel Siff in his book Facts and Fallacies of Fitness clearly states that regular, vigorous exercise significantly reduces the risk of first heart attack, irrespective of the type of activity. He further cites a study conducted by Dr Paffenbarger of Stanford University who conducted a research on dock workers and graduates at Harvard University. The dock workers who work vigorously were discovered that the risk of fatal heart attack among them was reduced to 50 percent. The graduates at Harvard who exercised leisurely displayed a 20 percent lower risk of first heart attack. Any strenuous, sporadic physical activity has a profoundly beneficial effect on the heart. Strength training which is termed as anaerobic is of absolute value in preventing heart diseases. Let’s state the numerous benefits of strength training in addition to heart health:
1) Strength training, as stated above, builds muscle which in turn burns more calories throughout the day.
2) It increases bone density. Inactivity and aging is known to decrease bone density and brittleness. Now, research clearly proves that consistent strength training can increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
3) Strength training is ideal to build lean muscle mass, strength, and power. Everyone can benefit from being strong, as it keeps us more lively.
4) It also helps in injury prevention, as wide variety of injuries which can be life threatening can be prevented by strengthening joints and muscles. Strengthening of joints, ligaments, and tendons is not possible through low impact aerobic activity.
5) It improves balance, mobility and stability.
6) It reduces the risk of coronary heart diseases, as it helps in obliterating type 11 diabetes, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol which are all the main causes for coronary heart diseases.
7) Last but not the least; it allows us to age gracefully. Strong seniors fall down less. If they do fall it relatively causes fewer injuries and can heal more quickly.
Our focus should be centered towards strength training, and aerobic activity should supplement the strength gaining activity, or individuals who are interested in aerobic activity should also see to it that they tweak in strength training sessions into their exercise routine. As stated above, performing aerobic activity also has its benefits and should not be entirely neglected.