GUYS APPROACH LIFTING weights for many different reasons. Aesthetics inspire some, while others seek to boost sports performance or simply counteract a sedentary lifestyle. Certainly all of us want to minimize the potential for injury and long-term deterioration as we get older.

Lifting weights is effective for all of those goals and more. But even savvy gym rats don’t always realize all of the many benefits—and repercussions—of hitting the iron. Read on for 20 things you may not know about strength training.

1. It boosts joint health

Lifting, especially multi-joint movements like squats and lunges, counteracts the effects of spending long hours hunched over a computer or behind a steering wheel. By opening up the hip flexors, you’ll be less likely to develop back problems.

2. Supersets build endurance

Lifting is most effective when done continuously rather than resting between sets. Perform a pushing exercise, such as a bench press, and follow it immediately with a pulling exercise, such as a dumbbell row. When one set of muscles is working, the other set is resting.

3. It boosts your metabolic rate

Lifting boosts metabolism, especially your resting metabolic rate. Translation: You continue to burn calories at a high rate throughout the course of the day, and even while you sleep. Combine this with a clean diet, and you’ll experience dramatic results.

4. It enhances performance on the field

Lifting boosts sports performance. Strength, especially functional sport-specific strength, is created in the weight room. It’s hard to believe that only a generation ago, few basketball, soccer, or baseballplayers lifted weights.

5. It builds denser bones

Lifting helps prevent osteoporosis. We lose muscle and bone mass as we age, and that’s especially true for women, who are more prone to the condition. Strength training forces the muscles to adapt by becoming bigger and stronger. Since your bones are the framework that supports those muscles, they’ll become stronger, too.