Why should you lift weights, but more importantly, why should you lift heavyweights? It can be so profound in not only your physical strength, but also your mental and emotional strength. Strength training can help improve your self-awareness, your confidence, your overall ability to create, to explore, to move through the world differently, and in a way that you are more resilient. You have better adaptability to change, stress, and loads. It can have a profound difference on your overall well-being.
Let’s dive into eight ways that lifting heavy can improve your health.
Lifting heavy weights has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression, and improve self-awareness and confidence. When you are lifting heavy and you are strong, you are going to move through the world differently. If you haven’t tried it, and you know someone that has, take a look at them and ask them about their experience with strength training and you will find the same thing.
2. Increasing power and muscle mass
When you are strength training you are increasing your muscle mass. Many women will say that they want to get “toned.” In essence, that is increasing muscle mass. When we are stronger, that means that we can produce more force and we’re able to adapt to different loads more effectively. You will find that moving a heavy box or moving a couch is much easier because you have generated the ability, over time, to adapt to these loads and forces.
3. Burn fat
We often think about burning calories. You’ll jump on the elliptical or go for a run and you’re thinking about how many calories you’ll burn during that session, for example. Instead, we want to be thinking about burning fat, and also burning calories well beyond that particular exercise session. This does not mean that cardiovascular activity is bad. It just means that we can get a ton of benefit from strength training well after the actual session. After a session, our body still has to continue to repair the muscle, and it’s still burning energy. Therefore, we’re burning more calories and fat after an exercise session than we are in an aerobics session, for example, that we’re only doing that in that particular session.
4. Increase in muscle size, i.e. hypertrophy
For each pound of muscle we have, we’re going to burn an additional six to 10 calories per day just for it to maintain itself. This can be powerful in fat loss. This is the reason you want to start strength training early. So, if you have kids that are just getting into fitness you want them to start strength training early because it can have a profound impact on their bodies later in life. This is because the more muscle they gain, over the years, the better their metabolism is going to be and the more muscle mass they’re going to have. It can be so powerful to start early in life, but it’s never too late.
5. Improved bone density
This is one of the most powerful things that we can do for our bone health. If you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, please don’t hesitate to start a strength training program. Of course, you also want to prevent these things. Strength training can help our bone mass as we age, to prevent things like fractures and things that can completely impact our quality of life.
6. Fight aging
Each decade after the age of 35, we are losing anywhere from 3-10% of our lean body mass. However, if we are lifting heavy weights we can preserve that lean body mass and even reverse some muscle loss.
7. Improve our brain health
Lifting heavy weights can increase our growth hormone which can help with cognitive processing and function. It can help to decrease the cognitive changes that we may experience as we age.
8. Improve our resilience
It can help us to decrease and prevent injuries by improving the adaptability of our tissues. We’re loading tissues so that we can become more resilient. In life, we constantly have to load and stress our tissues for them to remain healthy, strong, and elastic. If we don’t load them properly that’s when we begin to get into an injury cycle. So one of the most important things to preventing injury is lifting weights and specifically heavyweights.
Hopefully, this was enough to get you started lifting weights if you’re not already and if you are please continue on that journey and remember to keep challenging yourself. You don’t want to do the same weights over and over again because you want your body continues to adapt to new stresses. Make sure that you’re challenging yourself with heavier weights and variability.
This goes without saying, but make sure not to add fitness on top of dysfunction. Get your movement patterns assessed and cleaned up before you start to load heavy.
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