The general consensus among many people is that lifting weights is just for bodybuilders; those who want to become big and bulky.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
We’re told that cardio is the way forward for shedding pounds, but lifting weights can be just as effective.
As we become older, the importance of strength training becomes even clearer. Here, we show you the benefits of lifting weights and why they are worth considering as part of your regular workout routine
1. You'll burn more calories and lose weight
While cardio can help you get rid of belly fat, lifting weights helps you to build more muscle, which in turn can help you burn more calories.
This is because muscles are metabolically active, so they burn calories even when you’re not exercising. It has been suggested that muscle tissue burns seven to 10 pounds per pound daily, while fat burns only two to three calories per pound daily.
Resistance or strengthening exercises keep your metabolism active after exercising, much longer than an aerobic workout would do.
Studies have suggested that weight training combined with a healthy, low-calorie diet can help to preserve lean muscle mass which is lost through aerobic workouts.
Strength work plays an important part here because when people exercise to lose weight, the majority of that weight loss is fat loss.
2. It boosts your mood
Picking up those weights can be a great way to release tension after a long or stressful day at work.
Just like any form of exercise, strength training can improve your mood by releasing feel-good hormones known as endorphins.
Research has also suggested that exercise, including weight training, may help to protect against Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Researchers from Columbia University Irving Medical Center discovered that the hormone irisin, which is released during exercise, may help to promote neuronal growth in the hippocampus – the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
3. It protects your bones
As you age your bones become more brittle and weaker, especially if you are post-menopausal, which is down to lower estrogen levels. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for maintaining bone mass.
Lifting weights can help you build bone mineral density through Wolff’s Law, which states that bones can respond and subsequently grow in response to forces which are placed upon them.
Creating pressure on your joints through weight-bearing exercises can help you to build stronger, healthier bones.
Strength training makes muscles contract against the bones which they are surrounding. This force applied to the bones helps to improve their density over time.
4. You'll improve your posture
If you’re in a desk job and sat down for 8-9 hours of the working day, chances are you have a case of rounded shoulders and a hunched back, which places additional stress and strain on the lower back.
This can lead to the development of bad posture and a limited range of motion in the shoulders, which are the most flexible joint in the body.
Lifting weights can reverse this by opening up your chest, strengthening your back and improving your freedom of movement, not to mention strengthening your core which keeps the back aligned and upright.
5. You'll be more in tune with your body
The aches and pains you may feel after a strength session may seem like a setback. However, over time, you’ll realise that they are a sign of you getting stronger.
You’ll be more likely to feel like you’ve done something worthwhile and have a sense of achievement.
You’ll also look forward to the fatigue and interpret it in a positive manner, as you know it’ll lead to the results you’re looking for further down the line.
6. It prevents you obsessing over your weight
Stop thinking about the scales for a few weeks and set yourself a strength training goal instead.
Strength training can shift your perspective.
Where you once might have measured happiness in your healthy regimes from achieving a certain number on the scale, you can instead focus on the process of getting stronger and feel good that you’re taking control of your own success.
7. You'll see the difference
Strength training is great for motivation because you start to see progress quickly.
If you go on a walking programme, for example, it can take time before they perceive their body is changing.
With strength training, you can feel a difference in your muscles after one session and it only needs to take a few workouts before you begin to see some muscle definition.