I recently wrote an article about how weightlifting changed my life and now I want to point out why you should start lifting weights too.
Maybe you're convinced that you shouldn't lift weights at all. Maybe you think you'll look like the The Hulk, maybe you think you wouldn't like it. Either way I'm sure you're wrong. And here's why.
Most people spend literally hours on treadmills desperately trying to loose weight. Strength training not only builds muscle mass, it also prevents certain diseases, improves your mood and body image, and helps you with your weight loss. In fact, in the long-run you will lose more body fat than by spending hours on cardio machines day in day out.
Worried about bulking up too much?
There are only a few reasons why women build significant amounts of muscle, to the point where they start looking manly and bulky.
- They take steroids like testosterone to reach male-like levels, HGH or/and other hormones
- They have abnormally high levels of natural testosterone (which is fairly rare, not healthy and something you'd be aware of) and very good genes
Any normal female will not build too much muscle mass. It's naturally impossible! Heck, even most men in the gym look like it's their first visit. Because you only build muscle mass if you train and eat right!
See, this means you have no excuse to not lift weights.
Benefits of weightlifting
Not convinced yet? Maybe these 7 benefits convince you.
1. Reduces depression
Struggling with depression? Then the best therapy might be to pump some iron. You read that right, weightlifting is more than just about improving your physique.
Committing to weightlifting over time will lead to an overall elevated mood, because it releases endorphins. Endorphins trigger positive feelings and lead to an overall better well-being.
Furthermore, lifting heavy floods your brain with dopamine and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters.
If you ask me, always consider natural remedies first, before popping a pill.
2. Fights osteoporosis
Besides muscle training, lifting will also strengthen your bones by increasing bone density. Hence, the risk of fractures and broken bones is greatly reduced.
Plus, regular weightlifting exercises will increase the density of the spinal bone. Meaning, your spine will get stronger and healthier.
3. Lowers risk of diabetes
For people with diabetes, exercising is non-negotiable - it's a must.
Weightlifting, when done correctly, has been shown to provide an effective way to control blood sugar levels and has a positive impact on the life of individuals with diabetes. As lean muscle mass increases, greater amounts of blood glucose are cleared from the blood.
Besides that, regular resistance training will help with weight control and helps to remain or even improve insulin sensitivity. The abdominal fat mass lost due to exercise, is the reason behind the improvements in insulin sensitivity.
Don't think that diabetes will stop you from building muscle. It won't! And it shouldn't.
4. Weightlifting will make you mentally stronger
A recent study showed that weight lifting done twice a week can have a major impact on slowing down the disintegration of white matter in the brain.
Also younger people can benefit from weightlifting. It contributes to a stronger brain, which is less likely to experience Alzheimer's disease and other forms of mental decline. This is due to the boost of BDNF (a protein that helps to build new brain cells) during weightlifting sessions.
Furthermore, you might experience a better focus at work after an intense workout session.
5. Equates to a lean body
As the lean muscle mass increases, so does the resting metabolic rate. Meaning, you burn more calories even when you're at rest.
A 12 week-study shows how weightlifting affects the lean body mass (LBM) and the resting metabolic rate (RMR), compared to aerobic training, on a fat loss diet.
The group which did weightlifting had no significant LBM decrease, lost more body fat and the RMR increased by 4%. The group which did aerobic (cardio), on the other hand, experienced a 13.4% drop in RMR and a 4kg loss of muscle mass. They literally burned their muscle mass instead of their fat on the cardio machine!
This study clearly points out, that if you want to lose weight, doing weightlifting will lead to across-the-board better results and a much better muscle-to-fat ratio.
6. Better posture and balance
Back issues? No problem. Weightlifting will strengthen your back (especially the lower back), shoulders and core, which will help to prevent lower back pain.
By strengthening shoulders, core and back you will also experience an improved posture. Hence, you can stand taller, with shoulders back and spine straight.
You'll sit and walk more upright and have less issues with sitting in a chair for a long time (if you have to).
Aside from larger muscle groups, such as legs, pecs and hamstrings, your body has also various smaller muscles, so called stabiliser muscles. Each time you're working out, you're indirectly targeting those little muscles too, which will improve your overall balance.
7. It boosts testosterone levels
This one's for you guys. There's particularly one exercise that can help you when suffering from a too low testosterone level, it's the king of all exercises: the squat.
By inducing muscle growth all over your body, it also enhances testosterone production. High-volume resistance training with short rest periods stimulates greater hormonal response and you will experience far better results in terms of lean muscle mass, energy, sex drive and fat loss. But make sure to also eat enough good fats every day!
Squat heavy at least once a week.
How to get started
Now that you're aware of the weightlifting benefits, you can get started! Here's a simple and quick starting guide for you:
- Don't be ashamed! Everybody who is in the gym is there to work on themselves. Don't think anybody will judge you. Relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
- Warm up properly. Use lighter weight to warm up to decrease the chance of injuries. Don't "stretch" randomly. It just looks weird.
- Start slowly and inform yourself about several exercises before you do them. Proper form is one of the most important aspects to prevent injuries! You can do this via Youtube or Google.
- Don't go too heavy right away. Work your way up to heavier weights. Let your body adapt to the new situation. Increase the weights slowly. Follow progressive overload principles.
- Dare to fail. Force yourself to train to failure with proper intensity.
- Proper rest between sets.
- Rest and recover well. Your body needs rest in order to grow. Rest and sleep is a very important part of the game. A lot doesn't always help a lot. Aim for lifting 2-4 times a week.
- It doesn't have to be boring. Switch up your routine to keep your body guessing.
- Don't spend your money on unnecessary gym gear or supplements!
- Watch your diet. Remember: Eat like shit, look like shit. You can't out-train a bad diet.
What did you notice that has changed since you started with weightlifting? I would love to hear your experiences.
Have fun and train hard!