5 Reasons You Need Strength Training

Photo by Yasu & Junko/Trunk Archive

Most women base their fitness routine in cardio. She might run, spin, dance—as long as her heart rate’s up, she’s burning calories. You’re less prone to find her in the male-dominated area of the gym: the weights. Turns out that’s a big mistake. The immediate calorie burn from cardio might be higher, but if you’re not strength training, you’re missing out on a slew of other benefits—including significant fat burning.

Celebrity trainer Joel Harper, who’s worked with Olympic athletes, says, “I train my clients to use their time efficiently and effectively, so I rely on strength training. It builds muscle and bone density, and helps you lose weight.” Below, five reasons to work strength training into your workout routine.

To Build Muscle
Which helps you lose weight. A Penn State study on the benefits of cardio versus strength training measured subjects who lost 21 pounds on either regimen. The cardio group, however, lost six pounds of muscle while those lifting weights lost almost all fat and actually gained muscle.

You’ll burn two to four calories less per minute lifting weights versus cardio; but the minute you hop off the elliptical, your body stops burning. On the flipside, post-weights, your metabolism stays elevated for up to an hour; burning calories up to 25% faster even after you finish lifting. You can expect to burn an extra 120 calories a day for every three pounds of muscle you gain, which is key for weight loss and long-term weight control. Those extra 120 calories a day can add up to about 10 pounds of fat lost per year.

Think of it this way: if you build up your muscle, your body will be burning calories even while you binge-watch your new favorite show. 

To Increase Bone Density
Most doctors recommend weight training as the number one preventive measure against bone loss. As women age, they can lose up to 2% of their bone mass annually. The good news is, it’s reversible. Women who participated in a study with McMaster University found that a yearlong strength-training program increased their spinal bone mass by 9%.

To Make You Happy
Being fit obviously boosts confidence, but strength training also releases a steady flow of endorphins that play an integral role in regulating your mood. Boosting endorphins is one of the best natural ways to decrease stress—and increase happiness.

To Prevent Illness
Studies have shown that strength training helps control blood sugar, which helps prevent diabetes. Regular use of weights also helps keep cardiovascular disease at bay by melting away excess fat that builds up around your organs. Maintaining muscle strength surrounding arthritic joints helps reduce stiffness and pain in those suffering from arthritis and by strengthening your abdominal and back muscles, you can reduce the symptoms of back pain.

To Improve Your Posture
Strength training improves your balance and stability, thus giving you better posture as all of the muscles in your body collectively get stronger and more efficient.

Don’t fret!  You don’t need to blow off your favorite SoulCycle class; you’ll still benefit from doing cardio. Luckily, you’ll get results from adding just two sessions of strength-training per week, leaving you plenty of time run, spin, and dance your heart out.

This article originally appeared on Yahoo Beauty.