Page 1 of 3I’ll admit it—I’m vain. So when I put on my summer tank tops a few months ago and noticed the dreaded "batwings" growing on the back of my arms, I panicked. I was too young to have my arms jiggling when I moved! I had to do something, fast—something more productive than hiding behind long-sleeved shirts for the rest of my life. I had to tone up my arms.
An information junkie, I have read about so many strength training routines that I could give Charles Atlas a run for his money. Notice I said read about strength training, not done it. But it was time to face the facts—and time to put my knowledge to work and actually use the dumbbells that were gathering dust under my bed.
So, with my doctor’s approval, I set out to whip my arms (and legs) into shape. Being a real packrat, I also had piles of fitness magazines and printed web pages on the topic. Once I started reading about strength training in more detail, I was amazed at how beneficial a weight routine is to your body—and for your health. I took a few notes so I wouldn’t forget those facts, and posted them around the house to keep me motivated and remind me of my goals.
Whenever I was tempted to drop the weights and grab a cookie instead, this is what I reminded myself: The top 10 reasons everyone should strength train (and LOVE every minute of it):
1. Strength training preserves muscle mass during weight loss.
According to a University of Michigan research study, at least 25% to 30% of weight lost by dieting alone is not fat but lean tissue, muscle, bone and water. However, strength training helps dieters preserve muscle mass while still losing weight.
2. Strength training elevates your metabolism.
Starting in their twenties, most people (especially women) lose half a pound of muscle every year if they aren't strength training to preserve it. After age 60, this rate of loss doubles. But regular strength training can preserve muscle throughout the lifespan, and rebuild the muscle lost.
3. Strength training helps you lose weight more easily (or eat more without gaining weight).
Since muscle is active tissue (unlike fat, which is inert), it requires energy to maintain. The more muscle you have, the more you can eat without gaining weight. Strength training can provide up to a 15% increase in metabolic rate, which is helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control.