Weight lifting isn’t just about building muscle mass and bulking up. For years weight lifting was thought to be exercised for only those trying to gain major muscle and get big, not knowing there are other reasons for weight training. Weight lifting has been discovered to have key health benefits for all fitness levels, so we shared 6 major reasons why you should lift weights as part of your fitness routine.
MAKES YOU STRONGER
The first benefit (& perhaps the most obvious one) is building muscle mass, thus, building strength. Weight training consists of two particular movements: isometric resistance and isotonic strength training. Isometric resistance involves exercises in which the muscle is contracting but the body is not in motion. An example of this would be a squat hold or a glute bridge, where your body is holding weight (either the weight of a dumbbell or just your body weight), without any pulse or active motion. Isometric resistance is a great way to maintain strength and build endurance in a particular exercise. On the other hand, isotonic strength training exercises are movements that cause the muscles to resist weight over a range of motion. Examples of isotonic exercises are lifting a dumbbell for a bicep curl or doing a sit-up. Isotonic movements work to help elongate muscles, increasing your range of motion with the weight. These two methods of weight training are among many other categories in which the goal aims at increasing muscular strength by moving (and not moving) your weights in different movements.
HELPS YOU BURN CALORIES EFFICIENTLY
While all types of exercises can boost your metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories while you are not working out), lifting weights can optimize your calorie burn and in some cases, you can burn more in a strength training session than on a treadmill. Research shows that women who lifted weights produced a 4.6 percent increase in their metabolic rate for up to 16 hours following their workout. That’s about 60 calories! The effect your body has on its metabolic rate also depends on the quantity of weight you are carrying. More weight = more calories burned!
LOWERED RISK OF INJURY
Sore knees and achy back do not have to be a part of your daily cardio workouts. Over time, running (or walking) on pavement, dirt, or any hard outside surface can start to take a toll on your body. And as you age, the likelihood that you are going to go out for a run around the block becomes less and less realistic. It is important to build the muscles surrounding your achy and painful joints in order to properly support, lower the risk of a serious injury, and maintain strength throughout. Low impact exercises are great incorporation into your weekly workout routine and can be a helpful supplement for a 2-mile run.
A lack of flexibility is a major cause of injury in people working out among all fitness levels. Lifting weights can increase your range of motion and help improve flexibility in your muscles and joints over time. Increased flexibility can also improve your recovery time in between workouts. Research even shows that a full range of motion weighted workout can help your flexibility very similar to that of static stretching. In order to really improve your flexibility, it is important that the strength exercises emphasize a “full range of motion”. It might be more helpful to lighten your weight if you are reaching that full motion with your movements.
CAN HELP YOU APPEAR LEANER
Since strength training has been known to burn visceral fat very efficiently, your muscles will look leaner and more toned by picking up the weights. When you replace fat with muscle, your body will appear more sleek, toned, and fit over your strength training journey. Muscle is denser than fat, which means it is more compact on your body (taking up less space) so you should expect to lose more inches than pounds. Don’t get discouraged because the numbers on the scale are rapidly decreasing because you could be dropped in sizes quicker than total body weight – and getting stronger while doing it!
IMPROVE HEART HEALTH
Many studies have shown that weight training can greatly improve cardiovascular health and decrease blood pressure. With numerous diseases whose root cause is poor heart health, this is a major benefit that can help improve your heart. Strength training is also a great practice for those suffering from high blood sugar, as this is a major cause in most heart disease cases.
What’s amazing about lifting weights is that it is suitable and accessible for nearly all ages. Given that the majority of weight lifting is low impact, building muscles do not need to require high-intensity cardio, plyometrics, or long-distance running. Strength training is achievable for everyone (so long as their body’s health allows it) and it can be just what you need to start hitting your fitness goals. When first beginning to incorporate strength into your workout, it is very important that you are educated on proper form to prevent injury and ensure you are targeting the right muscles. So, look for workout videos that demonstrate moves, give you helpful tips, and even guide you through your workout.