Many people think that lifting weights is just for people that want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger!! …and lots of gym goers (particularly women) avoid the resistance section and even more so the free weights area, favoring cardio equipment for general health and weight loss.
But we’re here to tell you that adding strength & resistance training to your fitness routine can be your biggest weapon for getting in shape and maintaining great health.
1. lose more body fat!
Weight training is a very well kept secret for fat loss. Of course aerobic exercise is a great tool, but using it in conjunction with weight training will accelerate your fat loss a lot faster than cardio alone!
The key word in this point is FAT loss – many people focus on weight loss in the gym and not fat loss. Studies on non-lifters have shown that, on average 75% of their total weight loss is from fat and 25% is from muscle. Whereas lifters will hold onto valuable muscle and shed more pure fat instead.
Why is it important to hang onto muscle when shedding fat? I hear you ask….Well apart from their aesthetic appeal – making you look more toned on the beach!, having a good level of muscle mass is vital for overall health and strength. They’re a critical factor in metabolic health, body weight control, bone strength, and resilience to stress and disease.
2. burn more calories whilst sat on the sofa
Lifting weights can help you burn calories long after you leave the gym! This is called the ‘Afterburn’ effect and it’s because your muscles need calories and energy to repair tiny microscopic tears after a weights workout. A study from the University of Wisconsin found that metabolisms were raised for up to 39 hours after a high intensity total body strength workout. Whereas a steady jog will have a much smaller afterburn, as our muscles aren’t placed under the same demand and will recover quicker.
3. improve your heart health
A session on the weights really does get your heart going. Research from Michigan University found that people who performed 3 total body weight workouts a week for just 2 months decreased diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by an average of eight points! This could reduce your risk of a stroke by 40% and the risk of a heart attack by 15%!
4. You’ll have stronger bones
As we age, we lose bone density, which increases the risk of one day suffering a serious fracture in your hips or vertebrae. This is more serious than it sounds – a study found that among older men who broke a hip, 30% died within a year of the injury! Also the loss of bone mass in the spine can cause a ‘hunch back’ which many old people suffer from. But evidence has shown that just 16 weeks of resistance training can increase bone density by up to 19%.
5. You’ll handle stress better
Studies have shown that fitter individuals with higher levels of muscle mass exhibited less stress hormone than those who were less fit. Lifting weights is also a great way to channel stress and anger – take it out on the bar baby!
6. reduce your risk of cancer
The University of Florida found that people who performed resistance training 3 times a week over 6 months experienced significantly less oxidative stress than non lifters. That’s very important as oxidative stress in cells are a marker for cancer and other diseases.
7. feel happier
Researchers at the University of Alabama found that people who started performing weight training significantly improved their scores on measures of anger and overall mood. And lets not forget Endorphins – When you finish a weightlifting session, you’re likely to feel happy, relaxed, and proud of the work you have accomplished due to the release of endorphins. This in turn makes lifting and exercise in general a great tool for fighting depression.
8. cut your risk of diabetes
Lifting weights not only fights the fat that puts you at an increased risk of type-2 diabetes, but also improves your bodies resistance to insulin. This helps keep your blood sugar levels under control, reducing the likelihood that you’ll develop diabetes.
9. sleep better
Australian researchers observed that after just 8 weeks of performing 3 whole body resistance sessions, participants had a 23% improvement in sleep quality. Furthermore, participants fell asleep faster and slept longer than before they started lifting weights.
10. Stay sharp
Scientists at the University of Virginia discovered that men and women who lifted weights 3 times a week for 6 months, significantly decreased the levels of homocysteine – a protein that is kinked to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
So get yourself into the weights area and get lifting! …and if you’re unsure of how to lift or use equipment correctly, always ask a fitness instructor or personal trainer at your facility to help.
Ever thought about a career in fitness? Or are you interested to learn more about fitness and develop your own training? Have a look at our Level 2 Fitness Instructor qualification – the gold standard foundation for a fitness professional!