If you’re about to embark on a plan to get in better shape, one thing that you should be doing is starting to lift weights. If there is one exercise variation that you can use to quickly transform your body, weights would be it.
Strength training is one form of exercise however that many people do shy away from because of the fact that many individuals, especially females, tend to think that it’ll make them ‘big and bulky’. But, this isn’t exactly the case.
In fact, if you lift weights, you may be doing far more for your fat loss and body defining progress than if you spent all that time on the treadmill instead.
Most people don’t fully understand the benefits they get when they lift weights, so it’s important that you take note of them so you can see precisely why doing this form of workout is so vital to your success.
Let’s have a quick look at what you need to know.
1) It Boosts Your Metabolism
The very first reason why it’s a must that you lift weights is because this is the one form of exercise that’s really going to give your metabolism a quick boost. An intense strength training workout can easily boost your metabolism for up to 48 hours after it’s completed, so if you’re performing three strength training workouts per week, this means you’ll essentially have a higher metabolic rate 24/7.
Imagine what this will do for your fat loss progress. The higher your metabolism is, the easier it will be to create the calorie deficit required for weight loss to move forward.
Plus, when you lift weights and get this metabolic increase, you’ll be able to eat more food and maintain your current body weight once the weight loss process is through.
This metabolic boost will become a permanent boost as well when you are able to build more lean muscle mass on your body because of it.
2) It Enhances Functional Strength
The second reason why you should lift weights with your workout program is because it’s going to enhance your functional strength as well.
It’s imperative that you’re maintaining a high quality life as you age and a proper weight lifting program will allow you to do just that.
Those who don’t perform any weight lifting at all may start to find that they struggle to perform everyday tasks, so weight lifting is a perfect way to overcome this. Whether you’re carrying groceries up the stairs, putting a heavy box on a shelf above your head, or picking up an object for it to be moved, having strong muscles will most definitely help.
If you plan your program properly and around functional strength building exercises, you’ll see optimal benefits in this regard.
3) It Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Moving along, the next key benefit of lifting weights that you should take note of is the fact that it will improve your insulin sensitivity. Since weight lifting is an exercise variety that requires glucose as a fuel source, this means that it will deplete blood glucose as well as stored muscle glycogen.
Both of these factors are then going to increase your insulin sensitivity. This is important because not only does this play a key role in the development of diabetes, but it’s also going to ensure when you consume carbohydrate rich foods, you’re not putting them into the body fat stores, but rather into the muscle cells.
This provides good protection against fat gain. Those who are very insulin insensitive, which can happen after years of not performing any physical activity and eating a high carbohydrate diet are going to be more prone to storing excess body fat and will be setting themselves up for disease in the long run.
4) It Enhances Your Body Appearance
Looking at the aesthetic side of things, another key benefit that you’ll get when you lift weights is improved body appearance. There’s no question about it, if you have two people and one person does only cardio to lose 10 pounds and another does weight lifting, the weight lifting individual is going to look better at their new lower body weight.
Weight lifting has the power to completely reshape your body, changing how you look and feel. Cardio training, if anything, just burns up lean muscle mass, so while you may be able to lose weight and become smaller while doing it, you’re going to become smaller and softer than you were before.
Individuals who follow this strategy to help them lose weight – just cardio training with a reduced calorie diet plan, are often referred to as ‘skinny fat’.
It isn’t an attractive type of body composition and the really bad news is that if you’re skinny fat now, chances are you’ll be just overweight in the future as eventually you will put back on the body fat you lost.
5) It Ensures You Don’t Lose Lean Muscle Mass
The next reason to lift weights is especially important to those who are getting older and who are worried about losing functional strength and fitness.
As we age, muscle mass loss is quite a normal process, unless we do something to stop it. Lifting weights is what you must do to put a stop to that. If you begin to lose lean muscle mass, not only will you find that you aren’t able to perform your everyday tasks as easily as you used to, but your metabolic rate will also go down.
Since muscle is a very metabolically active substance, the more of it you have, the more calories you burn even just sitting there doing nothing.
If you start losing high amounts of lean muscle, you’re going to have to reduce your daily calorie intake to compensate for this. Most people don’t and that’s the real reason they begin to gain back body fat with age.
Gaining weight is not inevitable with age. It’s perfectly possible to prevent this if you sustain a good weight training workout program.
6) It Strengthens The Bones
The next key benefit that you’ll get when you lift weights is that it will help to strengthen your bones. Weight bearing exercises are ideal for keeping your bone integrity intact and nothing is more weight bearing than lifting weights.
Many women especially are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis as they age, which can really reduce the quality of life that you maintain. If you enjoy participating in various active pursuits but are constantly suffering from joint pain, you can imagine how badly this is going to hinder you.
All it takes is a few workouts per week to see noticeable benefits as far as bone strength is concerned, so it’s not going to be a high time commitment on your part.
7) It Reduces Stress
Another great benefit that you’ll get when you lift weights is a reduced stress level. If you’re the high-strung type, this could be wreaking havoc on your health. Many people don’t fully realize just how bad stress can influence their well-being, so taking measures to reduce your stress level is vital to success.
Performing intense weight lifting sessions is a great way to reduce your stress level, so something that you’ll definitely want to consider. Many of those who are experiencing depression find great relief when they start up on a good weight training program.
8) It Improves Your Self Confidence
Finally, the last benefit that you’ll get if you start to lift weights is that it’ll help to improve your self-confidence as well. If you are currently feeling self-conscious of your body because you think you are too heavy or aren’t ‘toned’ enough, weight training is the way to change that feeling.
Plus, the simple act of weight training and seeing just how strong your body is and what all it can accomplish serves as a huge confidence boost for many people.
If you have any problems with a bad body image, regularly lifting weights can help you focus less on the way your body looks and more on what your body can do for you. This shift in what you concentrate on can help you get past any body hang-ups you may have.
So there you have the primary reasons why you should consider a weight training program. It really does not take much time to get involved with this. If you lift weights two to three times per week for half an hour or so, performing compound exercises with a full body workout approach, you will be seeing terrific progress in just a few weeks’ time.
Most people think that they have to devote hours and hours per week to doing their weight training to get results but that just isn’t the case. As long as you’re willing to put in some time and effort along with following a good diet so you have the nutrients to build and repair lean muscle tissue, you will be well on your way to success.
So start your transformation today – lift weights and watch the changes unfold.
Shannon Clark holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Alberta, where she specialized in Sports Performance and Psychology. In addition to her degree, she is an AFLCA certified personal trainer and has been working in the field for over 8 years now.