Some people are intimidated by the weight lifting section of the gym, but it should be an integral part of your workout routine. Some, especially women, fear that weight lifting will make them “too big” or “too muscular” I can promise you–the people who are very muscular have to work REALLY hard to become that way. Women especially, we are born with less testosterone–you have to TRY to accomplish that look if that’s what you are going for. If not, you have nothing to fear, lifting weights 3-4 days a week is not going to make you look like the Incredible Hulk.
Have you ever walked by someone at the beach or in the store and thought, “wow, they look good!” I can almost guarantee one thing: they lift. If the image of the “beach body ready” individual doesn’t motivate you to lift, here are ten more reasons you should add weight lifting to your fitness routine:
1. To rid yourself of the dreaded workout plateau. Have you ever been pretty adamant about working out–hitting your workout videos daily, attending your fitness classes on a regular basis–you lost a lot of weight at the beginning but then, you hit a rut. You can seem to shake off anymore weight no matter how hard you try, so what do you do? Restrict your diet— even this doesn’t seem to work and only lasts so long– until you decide its not worth it anymore and get completely off course. This is the workout plateau. In order to keep this from happening to you I recommend adding weight lifting into the mix.
2. To add variety to your routine. This will keep you interested longer. It may be weird at first if you are a creature of habit and routine like me, but once it becomes part in your comfort zone you will love having something to do that isn’t body weight burpees or mountain climbers.
3. To gain those “curves” or adding muscle definition. What is the first thing you notice in the stranger walking through the grocery store, fully dressed, that makes you think, “Wow, they’re in shape!” Regardless of the sex, you can always spot a person who is in shape from their arms. And I’m not saying they have to have bulging biceps–looking like G.I. Joe either. This person has that lovely curvature of the deltoids/shoulders noticeable even in a t-shirt while picking through the apples. Shoulders are a very difficult muscle to train with only body weight exercises–weights for the win!
4. To burn fat and loose weight faster! It is a fact that when you lift weights your metabolism is increased¹, especially right after your weight training session while your body is in recovery mode. Therefore, you actually burn extra calories during the recovery period– AT REST!
5. It will strengthen any other activity you partake in or life throws at you–and you will notice. Something like carrying all the groceries inside in one trip, a friendly game of golf, to going to your weekly Pilates class–you will notice your strength increasing not long after you start incorporating weights into your routine.
6. Confidence booster! When you begin to notice your strength increasing–you can graduate 5lbs heavier on your Dumbbells or you can finally do a push up at Pilates– you’re confidence will be sky high. You will be more confident to try new things, talk to new people, etc.
7. Health benefits! Weight lifting is linked to many health benefits such as reducing risks for osteoporosis, coronary artery disease, obesity, and diabetes.¹ Weight training has shown in studies an increase in bone density–thus reducing the risk for osteoporosis¹ Additionally, studies have shown that after just 16 weeks of weight training individuals had greater blood glucose control¹
Did you know that: “The ACSM (1990, 1995), AHA (1995), and the Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health (1996) all have recognized the importance of strength training as an important component of health.”²
8. You’ll feel better! Weight lifting is thought to produce a beneficial biochemical combination in your brain¹ from hormones and endorphins released during your weight lifting routine. This in combination with your overall self-esteem boost seen with weight lifting, it has been studied that weight lifting has shown similar improvement to antidepressant medications in patients with depression¹
9. Better sleep. Studies have shown that people whom exercise regularly fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer.¹
10. Reduce risk for injury, prevent or stop chronic back pain.
“Lack of lumbar strength has been associated with the development of low back pain and dysfunction.”²
Studies of strength training in individuals with chronic back pain have shown that the increase in lower back strength decreased the patients lower back pain. Furthermore, returning back to reason #7, weight lifting increases bone density which reduces the risk for injury in the first place. Studies have shown that resistance training have improved lower back strength and thus reduced occurrences of low back injuries in the work place.²
It appears that most of the above findings can be attained in strength training programs that include 8–10 exercises that are performed 2–3 days per week, using 1 set of 8–15 repetitions to fatigue.²
¹”Why Strength Training?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 June 2015.
²Pollock, Michael, and Kevin Vincent. “Resistance Training for Health.” Research Digest. Web. 22 June 2015. https://www.presidentschallenge.org/informed/digest/docs/199612digest.pdf.