10 surprising benefits of strength training according to a fitness expert

From helping you burn fat to even boosting your sex drive, here's how strength training can improve your life

Woman doing renegade rows
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So you’ve heard of strength training, but you’re still not sure whether you want to do it. Well, if you’re keen to gain some lean muscle, build your strength or even lose weight, then you definitely should. And once you’ve read about the benefits it offers, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to.

Strength training is often mistaken for simply lifting weights, but it’s not. The point of strength training is to increase the size and strength of your muscles, and you can do this using a variety of home gym equipment, such as dumbbells, resistance bands, even your own bodyweight. However, using weights, whether that’s an Olympic barbell or a pair of the best dumbbells, is arguably the most popular form.

“More and more, people are waking up to the fact that lifting weights is one of the most effective ways to improve your body composition, overall health and your mental health, irrespective of age or gender,” says Aroosha Nekonam, a Certified Personal Trainer at Ultimate Performance. “There was once a time when people thought strength training was purely for burly bodybuilders or 80s action film stars, but, thankfully, those stereotypes are fading away as men and women of all ages embrace the benefits of lifting weights.”

Woman using dumbbells

(Image credit: Getty)

Benefits of strength training

1. It speeds up your metabolism

As we age, our metabolism naturally becomes sluggish and slow, which makes it harder to burn fat. However, building and maintaining muscle is vital for an efficient metabolism. This is because muscle is a metabolically active tissue that burns calories to sustain itself.

2. Increases bone density

As we age, we are more likely to experience age-related losses in bone mineral density, particularly in post-menopausal women. This can increase the risk of fractures, breaks, and osteoporosis. However, strength training exercises not only strengthen your muscles but your bones too. It's why resistance training is widely recognised as a powerful tool for reducing the risk of osteoporosis. 

3. It can improve your libido

It's true! Strength training boosts testosterone production and promotes hormonal balance, which can amplify your sex drive. One of the leading causes of sex-related issues in men and women is decreased blood flow, but strength training can improve the circulation throughout the entire body. In men, this can improve conditions such as erectile dysfunction, and for women who struggle to get fired up, improved circulation improves sensation and lubrication.

Two people doing push ups

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4. You'll age better

Research has proven that strength training can improve your blood circulation, and improved circulation contributes to healthier skin, nails and hair. This can boost your confidence, while helping you age gracefully in the process.

5. It improves your posture

Poor posture often stems from a lack of muscle balance, with the front of the body overpowering the back. Strengthening your posterior chain through weight training (for example, through the compound exercise the deadlift) helps rectify these imbalances, resulting in improved posture and alignment.

6. Helps you maintain a healthy weight

Strength training is the most effective exercise you can do to burn fat and build muscle, which will make it much easier for you to maintain a healthy weight. You'll also be reducing the risk of illnesses and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.

7. Develops a more resilient mindset

The positive impact of continual improvement in the gym extends beyond your physical-self. Strength training cultivates a growth mindset, teaching you that failure is a steppingstone to progress. This valuable lesson spills over into other aspects of life, empowering you to approach challenges with resilience, positivity, and success.

woman sat on floor with dumbbells

(Image credit: Getty)

8. Burns fat 

While it's true that traditional cardio – such as running, cycling, swimming – burns more calories, when you lift weights you continue to burn calories after the workout. This is because building muscle elevates your metabolic rate, which results in a continuous calorie burn, even when you’re resting. The more calories you burn, the more fat you'll lose.

9. It can help with everyday activities

As strength training can help to build muscle and improve your posture, this prepares your body for the tasks of everyday life — from bending down and picking things up, to walking and carrying things. It makes everyday movements more efficient.

10. Strengthens your immune system

However, the time and type of training does need to be taken into consideration here.  According to Healthline: "Moderate to vigorous intensity for 60 minutes or less is optimal for the immune-boosting benefits of exercise." But if the exercise is too vigorous, or you're not getting enough rest, it can actually have the opposite effect.

Bryony Firth-Bernard
Staff Writer, Active

Bryony’s T3’s official ‘gym-bunny’ and Active Staff Writer, covering all things fitness. In her spare time, you will find her in her natural habitat - the gym - where her style of training is a hybrid of bodybuilding and powerlifting. Bryony loves writing about accessible workouts, nutrition and testing innovative fitness products that help you reach your fitness goals and take your training to the next level.