One of the greatest gifts you can give your body is strength training. Though every type of exercise can enhance your health – from gentle stretching in a yoga class to ensure that your joints stay elastic, to cardio to help keep your cardiovascular system healthy – strength training or beginner bodybuilding can offer benefits that not all exercises can. Strength training isn’t just for bodybuilders, though. Here’s why:
Strength Training Benefits
- Reduce belly fat. Strength training promotes low body fat, particularly reducing belly fat, as found by Harvard scientists.
- Increase your metabolism. Strength training can help to build lean muscle which burns more fat and increases your metabolic rate. 
- Increased heart health. Visceral fat that normally exists in your organs, including the heart is minimized when you do strength training. This leads to improved cardiovascular health.
- Better glucose regulation. There are cells within your muscles that get “activated” when you use resistance or weights. These cells transport glucose from the blood to the muscles more efficiently, allowing blood sugar levels to be reduced. 
- Reduced cancer risk. The reduction of visceral fat due to weight training can help to lower the production of cancer-triggering proteins called fibroblast growth factor-2, or FGF2. 
- Endorphin release. Just like cardiovascular workouts, strength training can release natural pain-killers called endorphins.
- Improves your flexibility. New research reveals that yoga isn’t the only thing responsible for more limber limbs. Strength training actually makes your muscles and joints more flexible. 
- You’ll be stronger. Aside from just developing a six-pack, strength training gives you functional strength that you can use in every-day life.
Beginner Strength Training Tips
To get started lifting weights, here’s what you need to know:
Go for proper form, not heavyweight.
There’s a time and place to start lifting heavy, but it’s never when you first jump into weightlifting or strength training. It’s really easy to over-do it, even if you consider yourself physically fit. By starting with light weights, you can make sure you are doing each exercise correctly. This will reduce your chances of injury, which can keep you on the sidelines for months – thus impairing your ability to train at all.
Stick with traditional, easy tools.
You can do squats a million ways – with a Smith bar, with dead weights, with dumbbells, with sandbags, etc. Stick with a basic squat – with no weight first until you master the correct form, and then add weight with tools that you can easily control the poundage for. For example, just holding two ten-pound weights as you squat will allow you more control over your movement than trying to balance a sandbag on your shoulders or using a Smith bar.
Don’t over-do it.
You can start with weight training only twice to three times a week. Your muscles need time to repair after breaking down. That’s how you build lean mass. If you don’t give them a time to rest, then you won’t get all the benefits of your workout. If you want to train more, then rotate body parts – do legs, buttocks, and calves one day, and upper body another. Rotate in abs every other day.
Skip group weightlifting classes.
Until you’ve had time to learn some basic form, skip group lifting classes. It can be too tempting to try to keep up with others in the class who may have been lifting for much longer when you are first starting out. In addition, not every instructor is diligent about breaking down proper form so that you don’t get injured. Only join a group class after you’ve had a chance to do some basic weightlifting exercises on your own, with a trainer, or skilled weight lifter.
Work with your bigger muscles first.
Squats will train your entire lower body and even your abs to some degree. Push-ups will train your entire upper body and core if you vary your hand positions. By working with larger muscles first, you’ll target more muscles, see gains faster, and develop the stamina to train smaller muscles with acumen.
Know your body.
If you have previous injuries or known weaknesses, honor them. Don’t try to do the same weight training exercises that someone else is doing in the gym if they will exacerbate a healing injury or a place in your body that you know is prone to injury.
Incorporate good macronutrient and micronutrient nutrition into your diet.
Training is only about half the challenge when it comes to weightlifting. Without the proper fuel – both macronutrients like healthy fats, protein, and complex carbohydrates as well as trace minerals and vitamins, that your body needs when you become more active – you’ll be more prone to injury, suffer longer recovery times, and see slow progress if you are trying to build lean muscle or bulk up. Eat right and watch your weight training sessions work even faster.
Strength training the right way can be an extremely effective way to boost your overall health. The added boon is that you’ll start seeing results in your physique much faster than if you just do cardio or stretching alone. Employ these sound strength training tips for beginners and you can expect to see changes in your body within two weeks. Some people will experience visible changes even faster. Just remember to stay consistent and stay at it. Good habits take time!
“We are what we repeatedly do! Excellence then is not
an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant
 Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/taking-aim-at-belly-fathttps://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/taking-aim-at-belly-fatc
 11 Benefits of Strength Training. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/fitness/articles/2018-03-23/11-benefits-of-strength-training-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-muscle-size
 Chakraborty, D., Benham, V., Bullard, B., Kearney, T., Hsia, H. C., Gibbon, D., … Bernard, J. J. (2017). Fibroblast growth factor receptor is a mechanistic link between visceral adiposity and cancer. Oncogene, 36(48), 6668-6679. doi:10.1038/onc.2017.278
 Morton, S. K., Whitehead, J. R., Brinkert, R. H., & Caine, D. J. (2011). Resistance Training vs. Static Stretching: Effects on Flexibility and Strength. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(12), 3391-3398. doi:10.1519/jsc.0b013e31821624aa