Honestly, I can’t think of a single physical task where being stronger isn’t an advantage.
Whether it’s strength training, cardiovascular endurance work, or even flexibility. Being stronger and more in control of your movement is a big help. Strength is clearly a major benefit of strength training, but in this article, we’ll look at many others.
Where weight training was once solely associated with bodybuilding and growing ever-bigger muscles, advances in sports science means we view benefits of strength training more holistically now. We understand that weight training benefits extend far beyond the aesthetic and actually influence other areas of our lives.
Weight lifting makes us physically, mentally and metaphorically stronger. Give me a moment of your time and I’ll explain the benefits of strength training to you in a concise format.
These benefits are a mixture of scientific research and anecdotal observations I’ve made across nearly 20 years of personal training…
- 7 physiological benefits of strength training
- 1. Strength training makes you stronger
- 2. Weight lifting builds muscle
- 3. Weight training improves mobility
- 4. Your movement is improved from lifting weights
- 5. Muscular endurance is improved by lifting weights
- 6. Strength training can improve your power
- 7. Strength training makes hormonal profile improvements
- 5 benefits of strength training on your health
- 5 psychological benefits of strength training
- Strength training benefits health and performance
- Benefits of strength training- the bottom line
7 physiological benefits of strength training
1. Strength training makes you stronger
Let’s get the obvious ones on the list first.
The first benefit of strength training… you’ll get stronger!
As I mentioned at the top of the article, I can’t think of a single physical task where being stronger isn’t an advantage. Throwing? Being strong helps. Running… yes, strength helps. Jumping… you need strength.
Research shows that a consistent period of resistance training will improve strength and body composition, both of which have numerous other benefits which we’ll discuss later. For the short term though, weight training makes you jacked and lean, and who doesn’t want to be either of those?!
2. Weight lifting builds muscle
The next most popular benefit of weight lifting is the muscle it builds. Hypertrophy (muscle building) can be achieved in a number of different ways – some people prefer low weight, high volume training and others are high weight, low volume. Despite arguments for both, research shows they’re both effective approaches.
By employing both high volume, lower weight and higher weight, lower volume training you’ll enjoy the benefits of both approaches. Extra muscle mass means a higher metabolic rate, which in turn makes staying lean easier in future. Muscle is the weight loss gift that keeps giving!
Some people claim that free weights are the best way to see muscle gains. But research proves that even all in one home gyms machines are very good at building muscle.
The Force USA G15 combines a Smith machine, a squat rack, and a pulley system in one compact machine.
The G15 pulley cables have a 2-to-1 and a 4-to-1 ratio allowing you to perform any movement on it. The cable length is longer than a 1-to-1 ratio and allows you to lift lighter weight, ideal for lat raises etc.
Add a leg press and lat pull-down attachment to make it become a true all-in-one home gym machine.
After comparing over 100 machines the G15 came out on top for quality, versatility, and nothing competes at this price point.
3. Weight training improves mobility
It’s a physical benefit not always credited to weight lifting, but it’s true!
Weight training through a full range of motion has huge benefits for mobility. By performing exercises such as deep squats, overhead squats, dumbbell bench presses through a full range, you can help to stretch muscles and connective tissues, and improve joint health significantly.
There’s even research that shows strength training is just as effective as stretching for improving range of movement and joint mobility, so regular weight lifting will keep you supple too!
Check out our best adjustable dumbbell guide if you want to see the results of dozens of hours of research and testing.
4. Your movement is improved from lifting weights
Movement is such an important aspect of our health and fitness, as well our sporting performance. Interesting research has shown how strength training can improve movement quality and movement time. This study amongst fencers shows that resistance training helps to improve movement quality, explosive strength, balance and power.
If this is the case even in well-trained people, imagine how much the benefits cross over into those of us who aren’t full-time athletes! It has the potential to be game-changing for you.
5. Muscular endurance is improved by lifting weights
This is another one of those benefits of strength training that will surprise people who assume weight training is only about getting bigger and stronger. There is evidence to show that lower weight, higher repetition resistance training improves functional capacity – your ability to perform a task for a long time.
When investigated, a resistance training programme that required low weight, high rep training saw the subjects improve their muscular endurance significantly. It means there’s a place for resistance training even if you’re specifically targeting endurance.
6. Strength training can improve your power
Power is a major sporting attribute, but there’s more to it than that. Power is the ability to engage muscle and generate force quickly, so it’s really useful for things like improving balance and resisting injury. Power is often confused with strength, but they’re not the same thing.
To train power, you need to lift medium-heavy weights at high speed. That’s the fundamental element of power – the speed with which the movements are executed. There’s no better way to improve power than with weight lifting.
A good Olympic barbell is the most used piece of equipment in most people’s weight training program. Check out our thorough research in that link.
7. Strength training makes hormonal profile improvements
The underpinning of most physiological processes is hormonal. You want to build muscle? You’ll need the help of hormones. Food need digesting? Hormones play a role. Feeling stressed? There’s a hormonal element to that too. Weight lifting elicits a positive hormonal change in our bodies, so it helps us regulate biochemical processes.
Research shows us that weight training helps to regulate and improve the function of many of our hormones. It will temporarily increase levels of anabolic hormones and on a longer term basis, improve insulin sensitivity and reduce levels of stress hormones.
5 benefits of strength training on your health
8. Strength training reduces injury risk
All things being equal, a strong body is more resistant to injury than a weaker body. This is clear across multiple studies. In fact, a 2018 meta analysis (a review of numerous studies) on the effectiveness of strength training as an injury prevention measure showed a clear link between improved strength and reduced risk of sporting injury.
If you want to reduce your injury risk, get yourself stronger – you’ll be better protected against muscle and joint issues for the longer term. Issues that would have previously been big problems will beshaken off.
Strengthening your lower back and posterior chain is one of the best ways to prevent injuries. Check out our deadlift alternatives for more ways to do this.
9. Weight lifting makes your bones stronger and healthier
Just like any other tissue, bone responds to the stresses it is placed under. When you lift weights, you force the bones to remodel – they produce more cells and strengthen the ones already there. This has the effect of making the bones stronger, thicker and more able to cope with additional loads.
Research shows us that weight training is the best way to achieve this because of the size of the loads the bones are placed under. Additionally, the same research concludes that low impact exercise such as walking isn’t sufficient to stimulate the production of new bone and prevent bone loss.
10. You’ll age better if you lift weights
A big problem with age is the loss of skeletal muscle – it slows our metabolism and makes movement more difficult. This in turn impacts bone density, causing skeletal and connective tissue issues. The lack of muscle also makes us weaker and more vulnerable to musculoskeletal injuries.
Evidence shows us that weight lifting helps us to age better – it can delay and even reverse many of the signs of ageing. It is proven to help reduce weight, improve strength, enhance cognitive function and help people retain independence. It’s essentially a medicine past a certain point. If you want to maintain health span for as long as possible, regular weight training is an absolute non-negotiable.
11. Strength training covers all fitness bases
Training with weights can be adapted to improve a wide range of fitness elements. As you’ve already read in this list it can help to improve strength, power and flexibility – that’s not all though.
If you go for lighter weights, higher reps with shorter rest periods you can use it to build stamina – it can be a legitimate cardio workout.
Conditioning workouts where you use weights with short rests and longer work periods shoot your heart rate right up, torches calories and will have you gasping for breath! It’s a different kind of cardio, but works just as well as other types.
12. You’ll improve your joint health by weightlifting
First of all, spending time lifting weights will protect your joints for longer, delaying the degenerative changes associated with age. Osteoarthritis etc is delayed with a functional strength training programme. The good news is that even if you have joint issues, weight training helps to improve the condition.
In a study from 1996, sufferers of knee osteoarthritis underwent a strength training programme. The results were clear – subjects who underwent weight training suffered less pain and improved their range of movement.
5 psychological benefits of strength training
13. Weight training improves your mood
It’s no secret that exercise helps to produce a natural high – training has been shown to stimulate the release of ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin. These help to improve your mood and relax you. The exercise high isn’t a myth, research shows it to be a very real phenomenon.
When it comes to weight lifting specific benefits, research shows there’s a clear link between strength training and a reduction in anxiety, with researchers suggesting it should be considered for use as a legitimate anxiety management treatment.
14. Strength training enhances exercise variety
If you’re a runner, cyclist, swimmer etc there is a fair amount of exercise variety, but there’s a limit to how many variations of steady state, intervals, bric sessions etc you can do before you’ve run out of creativity. With resistance training there’s a limitless number of exercises you can employ, so your training is constantly varied.
From squat variations to alternatives to pull ups there is something for everyone.
As we’ve discussed earlier in this article, there’s a place for weightlifting even if you’re not bothered about getting bigger and stronger – it can be used for endurance benefits and therapeutic benefits as well.
There’s no limit to exercise variety with resistance training.
15. Muscular training helps you sleep better
Sleep is a huge element of our overall health and wellbeing. It improves our mental health, it allows us to recover from physical exertion, from illness and from general wear and tear on our bodies. Our sleep is impacted by all kinds of things, from our stress levels to the things we eat and drink (alcohol, caffeine etc).
Thankfully, we can help to improve our ability to fall asleep (and maintain good quality sleep) with resistance training. Multiple studies show us that long term weight training is key to great sleep health.
16. Strength training improves your mental strength
This is another one to file under ‘anecdotal evidence’ or ‘observations of a time-served personal trainer’, but I honestly believe weight lifting improves your mental strength. When you’re lifting weights you’re pushing yourself to failure every few minutes. You’re constantly challenging yourself, which makes you mentally stronger and more resilient.
Furthermore, you’re dealing with failure every few minutes – training is hard.
You reach a point where you can’t go any further, complete another rep etc. That’s a good thing, because it pushes you out of your comfort zone, and being outside of your comfort zone is how you get better and grow as a person.
17. Weight training rewires your psychology
One of the most interesting observations I have about weight lifting is how it can switch somebody from a negative, fixed mindset to a growth mindset almost overnight.
When you start strength training you are usually relatively weak.
You’ll struggle with decent weight and technique might not be great.
But you learn.
You accept you’re just a beginner and with training, patience, effort, and practice you’ll get better. You’ll notice on a week-by-week basis your improvement in strength, endurance, and skill. You’ve then got the perfect example of how you can change yourself with time and effort.
It’s a literal example of the power of work.
Strength training benefits health and performance
There’s a tendency amongst many people to think of weight lifting as a vanity metric – something you only do simply to look better.
That’s just not fair, nor is it accurate.
It’s far too reductionist and doesn’t take into account the nuances of weight training.
It would be a perfectly reasonable suggestion that everyone undertook some form of weight training for their physical and mental wellbeing. It may even be the most important aspect of any training element, given the crossover benefits of weight training are so numerous.
Consider that strength training can be tweaked in terms of weight, sets, reps, rest periods, movement patterns and the like. This means you can enjoy a huge range of different training outcomes. No other training approach does the same – you can’t get stronger with cardio, nor more flexible. It’s hard to improve your muscle mass with yoga.
Do you understand what I mean?
A benefit of strength training is that it’s the Swiss Army Knife of training – it can be adapted to cover all bases.
Benefits of strength training- the bottom line
If you were skeptical about weight lifting beforehand, I hope after reading this list you’ve changed your mind. Strength training is the single most beneficial type of exercise there is and is relevant regardless of your training goals.
It’s not just about getting big.
Not all weight training workouts are the same, which is why you should design your training approach to suit the training goals you have.
If you want to be stronger, lift heavy weights across lots of short sets. If you want to build muscle, go for medium weights across lots of large sets. If endurance is your goal, it’s low weights, high reps for you. Finally, power is developed by medium weights moved at high speed.
For a perfect starting point, follow our beginner weight lifting routine.