12 Surprising Benefits of Strength Training You May Not Know

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Picking up some weights can help you get stronger, sure, but it’s not the only benefit of strength training—not by any stretch. (You’ll appreciate that pun more when you get to number nine.)

With strength training, you challenge your muscles by moving them against a form of external resistance, whether that’s a barbell, a pair of dumbbells, a kettlebell, a resistance band, a gym machine, or even your own bodyweight. This stimulus causes tiny tears in your muscles, which then mend back together bigger and stronger. So by its very nature, this form of training helps you gain strength and muscle.

But it also does a whole lot more, which is just one reason why the current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that pretty much everyone—from kids to adults to older folks—fit in some sort of regular resistance training. Want more specifics? We tapped the experts and culled the research to round up some pretty stellar (and in some cases, surprising) benefits of strength training. Read on for all the inspo you need to give it a go—then check out our guide to starting your own program at home to put it all into play.

1. Strength training can make you a lot sturdier on your feet.

Doing certain strength exercises—especially unilateral moves like lunges or single-leg deadlifts—challenges your center of gravity and ultimately improve your ability to stay steady, Kellen Scantlebury, DPT, CSCS, founder of Fit Club NY, tells SELF. Same for those that train your core strength and stability (say, abs-specific moves like chops and lifts, which involve raising and lowering weights diagonally across your body), since a sturdy midsection is “essential for good balance,” he says.

And research backs this up: A 2020 meta-analysis of 13 studies concluded that resistance exercises can significantly improve balance for both adults and older folks. What’s especially cool? According to the report, lots of different programming can do the trick, like those focused on strength, power, or muscular endurance, as well as those using various kinds of loads, like bodyweight training, free weights, machines, and bands.

Having better balance is important, since it can reduce your risk of falling, Dr. Scantlebury explains, keeping you safe in a variety of scenarios. (More in a minute on how else strength training can cut your risk of a tumble or two.)

2. You can breeze through daily tasks like they’re NBD.

Building up strength in the gym doesn’t just improve your ability to bench press heavy dumbbells or squat with a ton of weight—it can also help you more easily tackle those chores of day-to-day life, like carrying a hefty bag of groceries, heaving your suitcase into an overhead bin, and picking up your kids. For example, Ava Fagin, CSCS, assistant director of sports performance at Cleveland State University, tells SELF that because she’s built up a solid level of strength, she’s able to do things like move furniture on her own without thinking twice. Bonus: If you add up all the minutes you save making one trip from the car rather than two, or moving boxes on your own without having to wait for your buddy, strength training might just be the most underestimated time-saver out there.

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