If building bigger biceps and getting a six-pack is the goal going into the new year, strength training is the obvious route to go. However, even if building muscle size isn’t the end goal, there are still other health benefits to strength training. Many believe that if they don’t want to look like a bodybuilder, there is no purpose in strength training. They then solely focus on strictly doing aerobic exercises and wonder why they are not making any progress at all. The following are just several benefits to incorporating strength training into a workout.

Strength training is known to promote better cardiovascular health. Visceral fat sits around some of the body’s most vital organs, including the heart. This is why it is important to keep any excess abdominal fat to a minimum through strength training. A 2013 study done by the Journal of Applied Physiology found that men who regularly engaged in strength training have better-functioning HDL or good cholesterol than those who do not partake in it. Strength training helps improve blood pressure just as cardiovascular exercise does, but even better since it assists more with HDL.

While cardiovascular exercise such as running is known to help with stress relief, strength training is equally helpful. It is known to improve clinical depression and anxiety symptoms. When strength training, people can overcome obstacles in a controlled setting. It helps the individual become even more resilient in their mental health.

Exercising contributes to body composition and one’s overall physique, but consistent strength training has also improved body image. Even with no physical change to the body, strength training’s perceived physical appearance has a very positive impact. It provides a significant improvement to the overall mental health aspect as people have a sense of accomplishment as they work hard to improve their body image. Not only does it contribute to the perceived body image, but it also helps to improve brain power over a lifetime. This is most often seen in older adults who are suffering from cognitive decline. High-intensity strength training gets the blood flowing, which may be the key.