The days of weight training being the domain of body builders, professional lifters and muscled-up gym junkies are gone. No matter what age you are, incorporating weights into your exercise routine can bring many health benefits.
Of course, before beginning any new exercise or weight training program, you must speak to your physician first.
Here are seven health benefits of weight training
1. You will build muscle
Did you know that somewhere in your 30’s you start to lose muscle mass and function. This condition is known as age-related sarcopenia. This leads to a loss of strength and mobility. accelerating as you get older. Consistency and frequency of weight training is key to building muscle – more so then the actual weight lifted – which is more focused on strengthening muscles.
2. Muscle burns more calories
Who doesn’t want to burn those calories? When you lift weights, the muscle you build is more effective at burning calories than the fat in your body. Muscle is effective at burning calories even as you sleep. Lean muscle mass is what we are after.
3. Increases your metabolism
Related to the previous point, your metabolism refers to how much energy you use up at rest. When you lift weights, you increase the amount of energy your body uses at rest, and the effects of this stay with you for many hours after you end your workout routine. Studies show weight lifting increase your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) for up to 24 hrs post trailing.
4. Lifting weights creates stronger bones
As people age, the chances of developing osteoporosis (brittle, porous bones) increases. This is especially true of women who are past childbearing age.
By adding weights to an exercise regime, it works to keep bones healthy. This is because the muscles and tendons pull on the bones, causing the body’s bone cells to produce more bone.
5. Improved heart health
It is widely accepted that cardio exercise is beneficial for your heart. However, new studies are showing that weight lifting also helps your heart by resulting in healthy reductions in blood pressure for longer times than doing cardio alone.
6. Improved joint health
When you strengthen your muscles, you are increasing support to your joints. This can aid with lessening pain and stiffness in joints.
7. Improved mood
Exercise and weightlifting both result in increased levels of dopamine and serotonin – “the feel-good chemicals” in your brain. These are the same chemicals that antidepressant medications raise levels of in your brain.
You can also experience improved mood with the stress release that comes with having a good workout and weightlifting session.
Women and weight training
Lifting weights is not just for men. Increasingly more and more women are lifting, but there are still those with concerns that they are going to “bulk up” and look like a bloke.
This really isn’t a problem unless:
- You are taking steroids
- On hormones such as testosterone
- Are taking lifting seriously – as in competitively seriously
If you are doing a couple of sessions a week in the gym… Arnie you will NOT be!
Another important note to make. If you are on a weight-loss program – the scales will likely be your enemy – muscle is always going to be heavier than fat – if you compare the same mass.
But you’ll find that while you build muscle, your overall size is likely to decrease. It’s highly possible to lose very little on the scale 3 dress sizes smaller! Base your progress on measurements and body composition not the weight on the scales.
So it’s definitely worthwhile to incorporate weight training into your weekly training if you want to step up your fitness training, improve health as you age or tone up and reduce body size.