If you want to know how to be a healthy person, then knowing something about strength training is important.  These are exercises that are meant to build muscle tone, strength, and size.  They are important because they keep your body functioning well as far as movement goes.  If you can lift heavy weights, you will undoubtedly have no problem moving yourself around as you age.  Strength workouts are also beneficial because they really increase your metabolism, a strong sign of health and vigor.  Cardio certainly does this too, but your body burns most of its calories during the actual exercise.  Strength training workouts however build muscle that requires more energy just to exist, so you burn more calories even when you are sleeping.

As I write this section, I realize that many of you out there are a little hesitant about strength training for various reasons, so let me dispel some of the misnomers and misconceptions concerning it.

1) Getting bulky for women: Don’t fear getting bulky.  First of all women are not made to “get big.”  The “gross-looking” women in muscle contests are a result of a lot of work and very specific programs (and usually drugs).  Most women couldn’t look like that if they tried.  Unless, your goal is to be like them, just lifting weights is not going to do it.  Just think of all the men that struggle to build size and remember; it’s much harder for women to do so.

2) Getting big for men: Unless you are eating just the right food at the right time, taking the right supplements at the right time, sleeping just the right amount, and a slew of other things, you may get pretty cut, but you probably won’t look like Mr. Universe.  As I mentioned, huge muscles are usually a product of great genetics and massive commitment (and sometimes drugs).  Most of us couldn’t hope to be terribly huge (without chemical assistance), and those who can probably don’t have enough time or resources to do it if they wanted to.

3) I’m not losing weight.  If you are not obese, there is a good chance that beginning a strength training regimen will only land you more weight.  The reason: muscle weighs more (per volume) than fat.  Beware because weight gain does not always equal bad results.  As you work out over time, you will lose fat and gain muscle.  A gallon of muscle is heavier than a gallon of fat, so you very well could gain weight and still lose inches.  Remember, it’s not how much you weigh, but what your body composition is.

4) I’m not gaining weight.  If you’re like me, you don’t feel a tremendous need to look like some hard-body on steroids, but you’d like to be pretty cut and have people take notice that you are muscular.  If you are also like me, you aren’t naturally muscular.  Weight lifting does not always amount to big muscles and/or weight gain.  I lift 3 times a week and rarely gain an ounce.  Remember I said that a lot of “getting big” is genetic.  It’s true.  On the bright side, I only weigh 160, but I can bench press 270 lbs. (Since the original writing of this sentence I have gained 20 pounds of mostly muscle, but only after using a legal supplement that acts somewhat like anabolic steroids).  So don’t be too discouraged If you don’t pack on the muscle, at least you will increase your health and certainly your strength.  (You can actually increase your strength some without any muscle gain at all). 

5) “Buffed” guys can’t move as well.  A common excuse for being lazy made by, well…lazy people.  Some people seem to have the notion that having big muscles somehow equates to a Neanderthal looking guy who can’t move his arms.  Not true.  In fact, muscular people tend to have a greater range of motion because their muscles are so efficient and strong.

The fact is that muscular people are healthier, faster, stronger, and quite frankly more attractive than people who aren’t.  So read on to learn how to improve your health through this avenue as well as improve the way you look!