Why should we lift weights?

It isn’t uncommon to hear that people tend to avoid weights when they come to the gym. I have heard many different reasons for this, firstly they feel intimidated by others who seem to know more than them, secondly, they may be unsure of how to use the machines or what to do with the free weights and finally it may be because they just don’t know the benefits of weight training. Whatever the reason I always make it my mission to convert people because there are so many health benefits associated with weight training, so hopefully after reading todays blog you are also converted!

Before we discuss the benefits, I just want to quickly touch on a couple of the points above in terms of people avoiding weight training at the gym. The main thing I always say to my clients is the more you do it the more confident you become, which seems obvious but actually after a few weeks of training together I am always so happy when I see a client doing their own session in the weights area and smashing it!! It is also important to note that at the gym I guarantee you almost everyone there is solely interested in themselves. I know it can be a very daunting and intimidating environment, but the more time you spend in the gym the more you realise that everyone really is on their own planet and there isn’t any judgement from others (and if there is someone judging others, they probably need to take a look in the mirror and focus on themselves more). Finally, if that still hasn’t given you confidence in the gym it is important to remember that we can do weight training at home, especially if you are a beginner! With a very small amount of kit, you can begin your weight training journey starting with bodyweight exercises such as squats, press ups etc. These exercises can all be adapted to suit different levels. With just a couple of dumbbells you can add a vast array of weighted exercises to your home workouts to help build and maintain muscle mass depending on level.

So, with all of that being said let’s crack on with understanding just how beneficial weight training can be:

  1. Improves bone density – As we get older, we begin to lose bone density, our bones become more fragile and thus more likely to break. Weight training can positively impact our bone density and so it is particularly important in the older generation.
  2. Strengthens our muscles, tissue and tendons – It goes without saying that weight training can improve our muscular strength but we may also forget that it can also strengthen the tendons and tissues surrounding our muscles which support our joints and bones and help to reduce risk of injury.
  3. Improves balance and posture – When weight training, we can work the muscles which help to keep us stable and upright such as our legs and core. By strengthening these muscles, we can improve stability and help towards improving balance. Weight training can also help to eliminate muscular imbalances and work on improving posture based on individual needs.
  4. Increased fat free mass – Our lean muscle mass decreases with age and so weight training can become even more important as we get older to help maintain our lean muscle tissue and compensate for our natural losses.
  5. Greater energy expenditure – Muscle has a higher calorie requirement than fat meaning the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn each day (higher resting energy expenditure).
  6. Better quality of life – Alongside all of the above weight training can simply improve our quality of life. It can help to make us strong which can make all our day-to-day activities much easier, can help with weight management and can also boost energy and improve mood releasing those feel-good endorphins.

So hopefully by now you are well and truly converted! Now where do you begin?

If you are new to weight training it is always best to start slowly. When the gyms re-open it would be beneficial to book an induction with a trainer who can show you how to use the kit and provide you with a simple programme to follow. Of course, after this you can also look into personal training as an option to further increase your confidence, technique and provide a more structured programme and one to one training. Allow plenty of time for rest and recovery between your sessions, perhaps starting with 2-3 sessions a week with one to two days rest in-between. Also ensure you are using the right weights. When completing a set, you want to finish feeling the last few reps were challenging and only being able to complete 1-2 more reps. It is a little trial and error to start so ensure you begin lighter and get a feel for the movement and reps before increasing the weight. Finally, just because you are starting weight training doesn’t mean you have to stop doing other exercise you love.  Weight training should be encouraged as part of a well-rounded programme which is designed to suit the individuals needs and goals.

So guys… get lifting!

Lots of love

CK

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