The Surprising Benefits of Resistance Training – Mind Pump

Check Out The Mind Pump Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Resistance training:
    • Improves cognitive function
    • Strengthens your proprioceptive abilities
    • Raises libido and improves your sex hormone profile
    • Improves your mood
    • Improves self-confidence
    • Is an insurance policy against chronic disease

Intro

  • Mind Pump consists of Sal Di Stefano (IG: @mindpumpsal), Adam Schafer (IG: @mindpumpadam) and Justin Andrews (IG: @mindpumpjustin)
    • The trio have 50 years of combined fitness experience as personal trainers

Resistance Training Improves Cognitive Function

  • Strength training reduces brain fog, sharpens the mind, and improves memory recall
  • “All exercise raises a chemical in the brain called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is like Miracle Grow for neurons” – Sal Di Stefano
  • Resistance training also accelerates learning ability

Resistance Training Strengthens Your Proprioceptive Abilities

  • (Proprioception is your brain’s ability to know where your body is in space)
  • When running, cycling, or swimming, you tend to stay in a straight line and move repetitively 
    • The wide array of strength training exercises available to you, however, is anything but repetitive—there are HUNDREDS of different exercises to choose from
  • Think about it: the brain & nervous system “unlearn” the movements you aren’t frequently performing to prioritize those you do
  • When you build your muscles, you build your brain
    • “The initial strength gains when you first start lifting weights are less from the fact that your muscles are bigger and stronger and more from the fact that your central nervous system—which includes your brain—is operating better” Sal DI Stefano
  • Studies show that when people are skilled at an activity, the parts of the brain associated with that skill tend to be larger & more densely connected

Resistance Training Raises Libido and Improves Your Sex Hormone Profile

  • “Resistance training, and exercise in general, is phenomenal for libido. It’s one of the best things you could do for your sexual vitality.” Sal Di Stefano
    • Increases in libido probably result from a combination of increased self-confidence and an improved sex hormone profile (discussed more below)
  • 🎧 “Speaking of hormones, there isn’t a single thing—aside from taking testosterone—a man can do that will have as strong or as direct of a positive effect on their testosterone as resistance training. You can compare it against anything else; you can compare it to diet, supplements, and all this other stuff. Nothing causes as direct and strong of an effect on testosterone as much as lifting weights.” 
    • “Studies show, for men, you’re going to get a 15-25% increase, on average, in your testosterone levels from lifting weights”
    • Not only does resistance training increase testosterone naturally, but it also:
      • Lowers the binding hormone that binds to free testosterone, rendering it worthless
      • Increases androgen receptor density (the receptor that testosterone binds to for activation)
  • Let’s not forget women: Resistance training improves progesterone/estrogen balance
  • In summary: “Resistance training will boost your libido more than any other form of exercise. If you want to get horny, and you want to find a form of exercise that will help you do that, lift weights. Nothing does it better.” Sal Di Stefano

Resistance Training Improves Your Mood (Exercise as a Treatment for Depression)

  • And your mood affects EVERYTHING—including your overall productivity, so take the time to lift weights!
  • “Studies are showing that exercise is as effective as many drugs used to treat mild to moderate forms of depression”Sal Di Stefano
    • Because of its effectiveness, many doctors recommend exercise as a first-line treatment (before prescribing medication)
    • As background, exercise causes the release/upregulation of a variety of brain chemicals—endorphins, serotonin, norepinephrine, etc., all of which antidepressant drugs also target
  • “Neuroscientists noticed a while ago that the hippocampus part of the brain in people with depression and anxiety tends to be smaller … Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus.” Sal Di Stefano
  • There’s no science behind this, but it’s as if, by exercising, you’re directing energy into physical fitness that your brain would have manifested into anxiety
  • It’s MUCH harder to get distracted when lifting weights compared to other forms of exercise
    • “Get on a treadmill and walk. I guarantee, within 10 minutes, you’re not thinking about walking—you’re thinking about all kinds of other stuff … With resistance training, if you’re lifting weights, you’re lifting weights … Can you get distracted while lifting weights? Yes, it’s possible, but it’s far less likely.” – Sal Di Stefano

Resistance Training is an Insurance Policy Against Illness

  • Think of building muscle through resistance training as an insurance policy against chronic disease & illness (heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.)
    • Why diabetes?
      • “Muscle is a very insulin sensitive tissue; if you want to improve your insulin sensitivity, have more muscle” Sal Di Stefano
      • Also, the more muscle you have on your body, the greater flexibility you can have in your diet—the less a seemingly ‘unhealthy’ meal will negatively affect you
        • (The more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate—hence, the more calories you burn)
    • Why osteoporosis?
      • As you strengthen muscle, you strengthen bone
        • Muscles anchor at tendons and tendons anchor at bones—as you pull harder on bone, it adapts to stress

Resistance Training Gives You a Sense of Independence and Improves Your Confidence

  • No matter how you look at it, being strong improves your confidence 
    • (Plus it improves your posture, making you appear more confident)
  • If you’re older, having some muscle enables you to:
    • Easily put luggage in the overhead compartment on an airplane
    • Easily carry groceries into the house
  • 🎧 “Strength training gives you the formula for life. When you learn to strength train and lift weights properly with the intent to build muscle and burn body fat, what you end up piecing together is the formula that applies to almost everything else in your life—great things take hard work, there will always be setbacks, and consistency is highly important.” Adam Schafer
    • Also, just as in fitness, the more reps you put in, the better you get (apply this broadly)
    • There’s no denying it—squatting or deadlifting a challenging weight makes life’s other challenges seem much easier