If you haven’t made the effort to hit the gym this year (or any year for that matter), this may be your best reason to start.
According to new research from Iowa State University, lifting weights for less than an hour a week could reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke by 40 to 70 percent.
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Hold that dumbbell for a second though. The researchers also found that spending any more than an hour hitting the weights wouldn’t provide any extra health benefits.
“People may think they need to spend a lot of time lifting weights, but just two sets of bench presses that take less than 5 minutes could be effective,” said DC (Duck-chul) Lee, associate professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University .
What’s more interesting about this relationship between resistance training and cardiovascular disease is the impact of the types of workouts. Researchers found that the benefits of strength training were independent of cardio-based activities like running, walking and aerobic training.
What this suggests is that weight training alone is enough to push a person into the healthy heart range without needing to meet the recommended levels of aerobic activity. I.e. cardio? Never heard of it.
Professor Lee and his team came to this conclusion thanks to their study on the data of 13,000 adults from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study.
The program involved measuring three cardiovascular health outcomes including:
- Heart attacks and strokes which did not result in death
- All cardiovascular events including death
- Any type of death.
From this analysis, Lee and his team derived the conclusion that resistance exercise reduced the risk for all three.
“The results are encouraging, but will people make weightlifting part of their lifestyle? Will they do it and stick with it? That’s the million-dollar question,” Lee said.
His solution isn’t so complicated.
“Lifting any weight that increases resistance on your muscles is the key.”
So if you’re lifting 10kg dumbbells and have been for the past year, you’re doing it wrong. The key is to shock the muscles by incrementally adding weight.
Whilst it’s easy to knock cardio from this study, Lee says it’s simply a case of weight lifting presenting other benefits beyond the treadmill.
“Muscle is the power plant to burn calories. Building muscle helps move your joints and bones, but also there are metabolic benefits. I don’t think this is well appreciated.”
“If you build muscle, even if you’re not aerobically active, you burn more energy because you have more muscle. This also helps prevent obesity and provide long-term benefits on various health outcomes.”
Don’t know where to start? Special Forces Commandos Train Like This To Get Insane Strength & Stamina.