It’s not just about muscle.
Sure, that’s what most of us think about when we think of weight training. The easy reason to walk into the gym is to pack on superhero-style muscle, channeling your inner Marvel action hero. But that’s far from the only reason to hit the gym.
Even if you aren’t readying your body to take down Thanos and Magneto, your body will thank you if you do a little bit of weight training. Why? Start with these reasons.
1. You’ll Lower Your Diabetes Risk
A host of studies in recent years have shown that weight training can help reduce your risk of diabetes and also increase your insulin resistance (which has weight loss and weight management benefits, too). Weight training pushes your muscles to rapidly use glucose, and that continues well after a workout too. It doesn’t take much weight training to get this benefit either: A 2012 Harvard study found that a mere 60-minute increase in weight training weekly (over no weight training) can reduce Type-2 diabetes risk by 12 percent.
2. You’ll Stand Taller
The fundamentals of any and every weight training exercise and workout start with the mastery of key core muscles — your glutes, abs, and shoulder blades. Learning to tense these muscles is key to getting the most out of everything from biceps curls to bench presses to squats and deadlifts.
And those muscles also happen to be key postural muscles that very often aren’t properly fired up in real life. Office work and hours upon hours of sitting can lead our mid-back and core muscles to occasionally “forget” to do their jobs with consistency, and that can lead us to hunch forward, failing to stand up straight. Workouts reignite those postural muscles, so expect to see your posture improve as a result.
3. You’ll Strengthen Your Bones
The human body is meant to endure large loads. It’s also meant to adapt and grow when it’s faced with large loads. And that doesn’t just mean muscle growth, either.
You’ll also build strong bones. When you lift weights, your bones consistently face that resistance, providing a framework for your muscles to operate. That stress on bones pushes bone-forming cells into action, creating stronger bones that are more resilient against fractures in the long term.
4. You’ll Maintain Muscle
Even if you don’t want to build muscle, you need to maintain it, especially if you’re over age 40. Men over age 40 very often face sarcopenia, the gradual, age-related loss of muscle, and lack of using and pushing your muscles places you at greater risk.
But if you’re constantly building muscle, you stand a fighting chance against sarcopenia. Studies have shown that weight training can help you resist sarcopenia. So even if you aren’t interested in looking like a superhero, if you want to look and perform like you do right now, you’ll want to hit the gym at least occasionally.
No, this doesn’t mean you need hours upon hours in the gym. Instead, focus on three lifts: dumbbell rows, squats, and bench presses. You’ll hit key major muscle groups that way, stimulating the muscles you need.