One of the most common questions I get asked from adults is “why do I need to include weight training as part of my fitness/exercise program”. I wish that I could give you just one main reason why weight lifting should be an essential part of your workout. However, there are dozens of benefits of weight training that could convince you to incorporate weight lifting into your workout.
This post covers the most essential reasons why weightlifting should be a core component of your exercise routine.
Build muscle and strength
It might sound obvious to say this but one of the key reasons why you should regularly lift weights is that doing so builds muscle and strength.
Weightlifting is the best way to build serious muscle mass. When you lift weights, essentially you create little tears in your muscle fibers as you apply tension to your muscles. As you rest in the days after your workout, your muscles recover and repair the little tears created when you worked out the day before. However, when your muscles repair themselves they become tougher, stronger and bigger than before.
Of course, when you actively work your muscles, as they grow in size you increase your capacity to use them effectively. In turn, as you continuously become stronger and stronger as you continue to increase the amount of weight you use to work out.
Weightlifting and strength training, in general, improves the strength of the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. Strong ligaments and tendons allow the body to be resilient against pressure or great impact. In addition, with strong muscles and ligaments comes more robust mobility and flexibility for dynamic movements.
When you don’t exercise certain parts of your body, those areas that aren’t exercised become relatively weaker compared to the rest of the body that is regularly exercised. This makes these areas of the body much more prone to injury.
For instance, say you do leg extensions on a regular basis but no other leg exercise. You end up developing nice muscular quads but when you try to do a deadlift one day with the same level of intensity you are used to on the leg extensions, you injure your hamstring. Where did you go wrong? You didn’t exercise your hamstrings regularly leading them to become relatively weaker than your quads.
Now imagine that you never go to the gym ever. One day you need to do some heavy lifting around the house. You can bet that you are much more likely to get injured than if you regularly went to the gym.
Weightlifting is one of the most effective forms of exercise to slow aging. The most prominent effects of aging include muscle weakness, fat gain, and low energy. Regularly weight lifting can prevent all three of these effects.
Your muscles begin to atrophy slowly but surely as you get older and at a much faster rate if you don’t work out regularly. Regularly lifting weights keeps your muscles much more resilient to the weakening effects of aging and keeps you going strong throughout your years.
Staying in shape by lifting weights also combats the effects of fat gain as you get older. Fat gain that comes with age is commonly associated with a slowing metabolism. Lifting weights regularly keep your metabolism chugging along at an efficient rate that prevents the build-up of fat.
Lastly, lifting weights and exercising, in general, keeps the body feeling younger and energized. Ultimately, because exercise prevents the muscles, bones, and ligaments from atrophying as quickly, your body feels much more energetic when you work out regularly.
You can learn about my story of how I was able to look 10 years younger as a middle age man through weight training by clicking here.
Decrease risk of disease
Studies show that weightlifting has the effect of reducing the risk of developing numerous diseases and managing various diseases for adults such as…
Type 2 diabetes: Type 2 diabetes is a condition characterized by failure to produce insulin in the body which results in high levels of blood glucose. Strength training and muscle building provide additional storage for extra glucose making it much easier to manage diabetes.
Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis typically causes pain and stiffness in the joints. However regular weight lifting prevents tension and stiffness that can build up in the joints so that you can stay limber and flexible as you age.
Parkinson’s disease: Parkinson’s disease is defined by uncontrollable shaking and rigid muscles. Some studies have shown that regular weight lifting improves coordination and mobility among patients with Parkinson’s disease.
For most adults, having more toned definition in your body just looks better.
Believe it or not, only a few pounds of additional muscle can make all the difference. Furthermore, a gaining 5 pounds of muscle is not very difficult to achieve either. You can typically gain about 2 pounds of lean muscle a month. That is of course if you workout regularly and you keep a good diet. With this kind of progress, you can easily gain 5 pounds in three months. Believe me, you will be able to tell just looking at your body.
Unless you believe that looking scrawny is preferable to having some toned definition, weightlifting is the way to go.
Various studies have shown that regularly lifting weights leads to a slower decline in cognitive function as you get older.
One of the dominant theories for this phenomenon is that exercise increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain.
Regularly lifting weights, of course, gets your blood pumping. Lifting regularly may allow your body to become more efficient at transporting nutrients to the brain for the best functionality.
Another is theory is that because weightlifting releases endorphins which can help to prevent depression and other mental disorders, this chemical release keeps you clear minded even after your workout.
If you don’t think that working out for your body is worth the time, do it for a sharp mind.
Some active gym goers swear that weightlifting is the most effective form of exercise to reduce stress. Many claims that pushing your body through resistance training can help you blow off steam and clear your mind more effectively than running for example.
To each his own I suppose, however it has been proven that basically, any form of exercise is powerful for managing stress. Physical activity helps to burn up your brains endorphins which are known as the “feel-good” transmitters of the brain. You may know this phenomenon as the runners high. Some people simply enjoy the meditative effect that comes with lifting weights and exercising. Training moderately intensely can take your mind off of daily stressors.
It doesn’t need to take long to do
Weight lifting is unique in a sense that you can burn an immense amount of energy by working out for only 30 minutes or so a day for a few times during the week. You can get massive benefit from only working out a short amount of time.
However, you do need to make sure that you are exercising properly and effectively to truly benefit from weight lifting. Going to the gym and doing a few sets of bicep curls while chatting with your coworkers at the water fountain for 8 minutes in between sets won’t cut it. Your exercises need to be focused, and intense. This is the only way to benefit from working out in a small window of time.