5 Reasons You Won't Get Fit Without Strength Training

Do you love cardio? If you’re obsessed with your spin class or regularly hit the trails for a run, you're the type of person who gets a good sweat session in multiple times per week.

However, to truly be fit and healthy, you also need to be doing some form of strength training. Strength training is often the answer to losing weight, changing your body composition, and feeling more confident. A strong and toned physique won’t happen from cardio workouts alone.

Need more convincing to start weight training? Consider this: Research shows that strength training can slow down the physiological aging clock. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that strength training for just two hours or less per week reduces the risk of death by all causes.

Here’s why your workout regimen needs a balance of both cardio and strength training.

1

Strength Training Boosts Your Metabolism

Woman strength training with trainer in park
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Around age 35, most people start to lose about one half to a pound of muscle per year, unless you are actively strength training. With more muscle, your body’s metabolism improves and you burn more calories, even at rest.

Your body uses more calories to make and keep muscle than to hold onto fat. If you want to fire up your metabolism, you’ve got to strength train.

2

Strength Training Preserves Lean Muscle Mass and Bone Strength

The CDC reports that strength training can even slow down our physiological aging clock. Here’s why it just isn’t possible to be completely fit without strength training.
Photo by: Hero Images / Getty Images

As we age, we lose a percentage of the muscle mass we don’t use. Lifting weights or doing bodyweight exercises will help to build muscle, increase bone mass, and keep joints healthy. You will also improve your functional fitness—those everyday movements you do will get easier. And a strong, healthy body will reduce your risk for serious injuries or falls.

Using your muscles means you can slow, prevent and even reverse muscle and bone loss.

3

Strength Training Will Make You Strong and Lean

The CDC reports that strength training can even slow down our physiological aging clock. Here’s why it just isn’t possible to be completely fit without strength training
Photo by: Westend61 / Getty Images

Cardio workouts can help burn extra calories and get your heart in great cardiovascular condition, but strength training plays a bigger role in changing how your body looks. With increased muscle, you gain increased definition and become more lean than with cardio alone.

Keep in mind that spot reducing body fat isn’t possible. When you lose fat, you lose it all over. However, spot strengthening can work. Abdominal workouts, for example, can firm and tone your midsection, while biceps curls can define your biceps muscles.

4

Strength Training Improves Balance and Coordination

The CDC reports that strength training can even slow down our physiological aging clock. Here’s why it just isn’t possible to be completely fit without strength training.
Photo by: Hero Images / Getty Images

Strength training can improve your balance and coordination while reducing your risk of falling, which is especially important for older adults. With more muscle, you gain improved posture and stability. If you are challenging yourself with some mud runs or obstacle course races, your improved agility will pay off as well.

While you may not be worried about it now, research has shown that weight training can reduce your risk of falling by as much as 40% as you get older.

5

Strength Training Gives Your Body More Power

The CDC reports that strength training can even slow down our physiological aging clock. Here’s why it just isn’t possible to be completely fit without strength training.
Photo by: Westend61 / Getty Images

Weight training is resistance training—both isotonic movements (contracting muscles through a range of motion, like lifting dumbbells) and isometric movements (contracting your muscles against each other or a fixed object, like a plank or wall sit.) To build up our muscle power, our bodies need both of these forms of resistance training.

The body power you build with muscle strength can help you outside of the gym, too. If you have a stronger body, you can perform better in your chosen activity, whether it's on the tennis court or the ski slopes.

For example, plyometric workouts (those with jumping movements) will work on your body’s explosive power. Improved explosive power can make you a better runner or better on the basketball court. Strength training can unlock your body’s true potential for power.

A Word From Verywell

If strength training is new for you or something you just haven’t prioritized, know that there all sorts of fun tools you can use. Pick up some weights, a kettlebell, sandbags or battle ropes. Use your own bodyweight or find a playground with equipment.

If you need instruction, hire a personal trainer or join a group fitness class with an experienced instructor. Just know that to truly be fit, strength training should be part of your weekly workout routine. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and it’s certainly worth it in the long term.

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