Weight lifting is slowly being accepted as a great alternative to cardio training. Here are some of the benefits of strength training.
Will lifting weights make me bulky? This is the most common question most personal trainers get asked when working with a new client.
Whilst getting “bulky” isn’t a side effect of weight training, we do have a list of ten other benefits you will experience when hitting the weight room.
And all of them are pretty positive.
Weight lifting increases your metabolism
Weight lifting helps build muscle which results in increased metabolism. It takes a lot of energy to maintain muscle mass even when you are just resting.
Muscle is also constantly being broken down and rebuilt so even when you are doing nothing so your muscles are using energy and thus helping you lose weight.
The more muscle mass you have, the more energy you burn.
You burn calories long after you are done weight lifting
Weight lifting increases excess post-exercise oxygen consumption or EPOC.
This is the amount of oxygen required to restore your body its normal resting level. During this period of recovery, your body is continuing to burn calories.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that women who did weight training burned an average of 100 more calories during the 24 hours after their training session ended.
Weight lifting strengthens your bones
Studies have shown the strength training helps stave off Osteoporosis.
As we age our bones become more fragile and once we hit 40 we lose an average of 1% of our bone mass.
Strength training has been shown to play a role in slowing bone loss, and several studies have shown it can even build bone.
The added strength and stability that comes with lifting weights also means that you are less likely to break a bone should you have a minor fall.
Life gets easier
As you get stronger, day to day tasks gets a lot easier.
No more multiple trips between your car and your house to carry those grocery bags. You can hoist your kids around easily, moving furniture isn’t as big a chore… You get the idea.
Strength training can also help benefit your other sporting activities such as running. Runners incorporate lower body workouts to build muscle strength which in turn makes them faster. Adding weights to your workout regime can also help prevent injuries.
Weight lifting boosts your mood
Exercise produces endorphins which are feel-good hormones.
Studies have found that weight training, in particular, helped reduce the symptoms of depression.
More specifically researched showed the weight lifting and strength training helped improve low mood, a loss of interest in activities, and feelings of unworthiness.
The studies suggest that resistance training can be an effective tool to use in conjunction and alongside medically prescribed treatment.
And all you would need is about 45 minutes a session to benefit.
Weight lifting can improve your memory
Level up your physical as well as your mental game with strength training.
Research from the Georgia Institute of Technology showed that the participants were more likely to remember experiences because of the stress that weightlifting created in their bodies.
A Brazilian study correlates these findings. In their study, they found that after 6 months of resistance training lifters brain cognitive functions were enhanced. This included their short- and long-term memory.
You will have abs and a happy heart
Researchers followed 10 000 men over 12 years to determine the effect strength training had on their health and body composition.
They found that strength training was more effective in preventing increases in abdominal fat than cardiovascular exercise.
Abdominal fat surrounds your vital organs, including the heart. So, preventing or reducing any excess abdominal fat will also improve heart health.
You will improve your posture, mobility and flexibility.
You would think that lifting all those weights would result in sore joints and stiff muscles but this is not the case.
Results from a 2017 study in the journal Isokinetics and Exercise Science show that strength training improves flexibility and that eccentric strength exercises may improve hamstring flexibility twice as well as static stretching.
And when you take your muscles through their full range of motion you also improve your mobility.
Weight lifting can counteract the bad posture we acquire when sitting hunched over at a desk by opening up our chest muscles. Strength training also builds strength in our core and back thus improving alignment and posture.
You become more in tune with your body
The use of your breathe when weight lifting can create greater body awareness. As you learn to brace and breathe correctly through your reps you will find yourself becoming more aware of your movements and how your body moves.
Plus doing movements that challenge you helps improve your cognitive function.
You will be more confident
Nothing quite like an ego boost than a good tough workout, especially if you are lifting a weight you haven’t lifted before.
While strength training can impact your confidence based on the positive body changes, studies have found that the actual changes don’t matter.
Consistent strength training improves body image and perceived physical appearance – no matter the actual aesthetic results.
If you have been apprehensive about hitting the weight section of your gym, perhaps these ten reasons might push you towards picking up that dumbbell.
By Natasha King