Strength training has benefits that go way beyond bulking up. It revs up your metabolism, prevents disease, makes you stronger, lowers blood pressure and helps you sleep better. There’s also evidence to prove that weight and strength workouts can actually help reduce back pain. But that’s not all. Strength training’s psychological pros include zapping stress, boosting self-confidence and controlling depression.
Despite the myths, weight training won’t make you Schwarzenegger-esque - unless you really want it to. From lateral raises to push-ups, the point is to develop strength, not bulk. For the best results, incorporate a mix of weight lifting (using free weights and exercise machines in your gym) and body-strengthening exercises (using your own weight as resistance) for a healthy back and happy mind.
If you’re struggling with a bad back and need to lower your stress levels, here’s why you should start getting strong:
Blasting stress with strength
It’s not just yoga that increases your mental health and wellbeing. Pumping iron has all kinds of psychological benefits. Your body will be flooded with feel-good endorphins, boosting your mood and decreasing anxiety. The yoga technique of mindfulness is also at play when strength training: the intensity and focus of functional movements make it impossible to let your mind stray to anywhere but the present moment. More reps, less fret.
Due to the near-instant results seen in weight training, you’ll also be able to feel the difference in your muscles after just one session. If you’re usually one to shy away from seemingly intimidating weights machines, this progress is a massive confidence booster. The happiness that comes with weight lifting doesn’t come from a number on the scale - it comes from looking in the mirror and seeing your body becoming more and more sculpted. That kind of empowerment is priceless.
Welcome weights, bye bye back pain
Chronic back pain can deter you from doing any strenuous activity. Weight training and strengthening exercises can help build up your back muscles, keeping your spine moving as it should. Weak back muscles, abdominal muscles or poor posture can make you more susceptible to back strain. Focusing on strengthening your core and you’ll lead to less back pain in the long run. If you are going to concentrate on just one area for maximum results, a scientific study in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science suggests that focusing on the deep trunk muscles (the ones we use for spine stability) can alleviate chronic low back pain the most effectively.
This is especially important in combatting the muscle loss that occurs with the ageing process. By increasing your range of motion, boosting bone density and conditioning your muscles, strength training can lessen the blow of injuries. It can make day-to-day functional tasks - such as lifting, squatting or climbing stairs - a lot easier.