7 Reasons To Lift Weights

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Strength training helps you get stronger – fact. But that’s not all it does! Find out why you should be lifting

The rise of weight training among women has been a long time coming. But now that it’s here, we reckon it’s here to stay. More and more women are becoming in tune with the many different health benefits that lifting weights has to offer – and getting strong is only one of them.

Education has played a huge role in helping the weightlifting revolution – many of us used to swerve the weights room in fear that it’d leave us bulging with unwanted muscle. But thankfully, finding out about the health, fitness and mental benefits of weight training has helped us to ditch this myth once and for all. ‘The most common question I get as a female PT who lifts six times a week is, “will it make me bulky?”’ says strength and conditioning coach, Laura Hoggins (@bicepsandbronzer). ‘Well I’ve been training for years and this is as “bulky” as I’ve managed to get – so a few barbell squats and deadlifts are not going to transform you into the Hulk overnight.’ Sure, if your goal is to pack on muscle mass, this can be achieved. But creating a programme shaped around your own personal goals will help you to achieve a whole host of impressive results, from shredding fat to boosting confidence.

7 reasons to lift weights

liftingIt’s empowering

Sure, many people pick up a set of dumbbells because they want to see a change in how they look, but one of the first things they’ll quickly realise is that moving those dumbbells also changes the way youfeel. The better it makes you feel, the more likely you are to stick at it – and thus, see results. ‘That feeling of pulling a heavy clean, or landing a snatch, makes you feel like a total champion,’ says Laura. ‘When people ask me what the best training programme is, I tell them, “it’s the one you will keep up!”’

lifting It’ll get you stronger

As you start and continue with functional weight training, you’ll soon notice the benefits that your newfound strength offers in everyday life. Moving house? Easy. Carrying stuff up the stairs? Piece of cake. Opening a stubborn jar? A breeze. ‘We have an ever-demanding life, and we need to be up for whatever life throws at us physically,’ adds Laura.

lifting It’s sociable

Sure, run clubs and running buddies make great sweat dates, but have you ever tried carrying a conversation or having a catch-up while sprinting up a hill, gasping for air? We’re not saying that lifting weights won’t get you out of breath – try a HIIT-based kettlebell complex if you don’t believe us – but nattering away during a rest period, encouraging each other to push harder or spotting each other on the bench press is a great way for friends to interact and even forge stronger bonds. BFFs that squat together, stay together – right?

lifting It’ll build lean muscle which burns fat

While cardio plays a very important role in many people’s workout regimes, weight training’s impressive ability to burn fat is often overlooked in favour of more cardio-based activity like running. Weight training will encourage you to step away from the scales and focus on how lean and healthy you look and feel, rather than how much you weigh. Since muscle mass is denser that fat – therefore weighs more for the amount of space it takes up – your weight isn’t always an accurate way to measure progress. For example, as you get stronger you may weigh more (thanks to the new muscle), but actually look a lot leaner (thanks to the fat loss). ‘If you have more muscle mass in your body, your metabolism will be higher,’ Laura adds. This encourages your body to burn calories at a faster rate, whether that’s during a workout, while you’re sat at a desk or even while you’re fast asleep.

lifting It’s easy to track

Setting goals (and then smashing them) is easy when it comes to weight training. While getting deeper into your squat or perfecting the form of your kettlebell swing are both good goals to strive towards, the easiest way to measure progress is by tracking how much weight you’re lifting in a strength session or how many reps you’re hitting in a round of metabolic conditioning. Seeing the numbers go up week by week is rewarding and easy to track – making you more likely to stick at it in the long run.

lifting It can ward off osteoporosis

Sure, lifting weights does your muscles good, but did you know that it does the same for your bones? ‘Among the many benefits of strength training, one of the least talked about is its impact on bone density, which will reduce your risk of osteoporosis later on in life,’ shares Laura. Not only is this especially important if you do high-impact activities like running, but it also means that lifting weights is a great option for older women, who are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis.

lifting It can help to prevent injury

Training sessions don’t always go according to plan, but the stronger you are, the better you’ll deal with the unexpected. Prevention is the best cure, so ensuring the muscles are adequately strong enough to protect the joints, for example, means you’re far less likely to be sat on the sidelines nursing a nasty niggle. Whether you’re an avid runner or a budding boxer, being stronger overall means you can engage and recruit the right muscles to perform better, making you less likely to overstrain or overcompensate. For example, having stronger legs will help you run faster and having powerful hips will help you punch harder.

Weight lifting 101

We know that embarking on your weight-lifting journey can be confusing, and there are a bunch of questions you might be asking. That’s why we’ve put together this weight lifting 101 to get you started.

DO start with the basics – there’s no point trying to master a ridiculously complex move on your first session. Good exercises to start with are the squat, deadlift and overhead press. Get comfortable with these moves and you’ll soon be ready for the rest.

DO track your progress – keep a training diary if you’re forgetful. It’s not just the weight you lift that acts as a marker of progress, either – take note of your form, too. Are you able to squat deeper as time goes on? Is your snatch starting to come up faster now?

DON’T push yourself too hard – as with any form of physical activity, if you go harder than your body is ready for, you’ll get injured. Make sure you never skip rest days, and if you’re feeling especially tired on some days, opt for a recovery session instead. You’ll always benefit in the long run.

DON’T be afraid to ask for help – if you’re unfamiliar with a new exercise or piece of equipment, don’t just try and wing it! Not only could you hurt yourself, but you also won’t be benefitting from it the way you should be. Book in a session with a PT or ask a friend who is more experienced with weights to show you the ropes.

DO fuel your body properly – nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. Refuelling your body with a balance of high-quality protein, healthy fats and unrefined carbs will help your muscles repair in time for your next session.

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