Ready to hit the gym? Most gym-goers make a beeline for the treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stair climbers. But, did you know that another gym activity---lifting weights---can give you, even more, health benefits? Though lifting weights might not be as popular as doing cardio, it packs a serious punch. Read on for the top 20 reasons you should make weightlifting a feature of your exercise program!
It's easy to see your progress
Unlike some other types of exercise, with weightlifting, you'll definitely know when you're improving, and this will make you want to do it even more! Though the first few weeks can be hard, one day (probably when you don't expect it), you'll pick up a weight that used to be hard for you to lift, and it'll feel light. That kind of clear reward will make you love working out!
You'll be less prone to injury
You'll burn more fat
Since lifting builds muscle mass, that also means you'll burn more fat overall and shed more weight. Research shows that the boost in muscle that you get from lifting may even help you burn
You'll burn more calories, with less effort
Muscle burns more calories than fat does (link here http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/weight-loss/in-depth/metabolism/art-20046508), so the extra muscle you get from lifting will keep you burning more calories throughout the day, even when you're sleeping!
Your heart will thank you
Lifting is a natural way to reduce your blood pressure. Some studies have shown that it reduces blood pressure as much as taking blood pressure medicine would (link here http://www.news.appstate.edu/2010/11/29/study-shows-resistance-training-benefits-cardiovascular-health/)!
You'll sleep like a baby
It's no secret that regular exercise helps you sleep better. But, the benefits go beyond that. In one study on older men, researchers found that those who did regular strength training didn't wake up as much during the night as the men who didn't lift weights (link here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22045416).
You're more likely to make it to old age
Muscle mass naturally declines as we get older. Studies have shown that having more muscle mass means you're less likely to die early (link here http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201403/pumping-iron-can-help-you-live-longer). So, lifting might just be your ticket to healthy golden years!
You'll be able to stretch farther
Move over, yoga. According to a 2010 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, it turns out that weightlifting increases your flexibility, too! Just doing it every other day for 2 months is all it takes to get super limber.
You'll be smarter
Who knew lifting would help your I.Q., too? Yep, turns out that strength training boosts your brain power and mental sharpness! Link here http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/19/phys-ed-brains-and-brawn/?_r=0
Your attitude will become more cheerful
Lifting really helps you beat the blues. A 1993 study at the University of South Florida found that strength training helped workers feel more positive in their office environments.
Results will be quick
With weight training, you'll see more muscle definition in just 2 or 3 sessions (link here http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/weight-training/art-20047116). Even lifting lighter weights can do the trick, just make sure they're heavy enough that lifting them makes you feel tired (link here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2918506/?tool=pubmed).
You'll have better self-esteem
A 1992 study at Brigham Young University found that women who lifted weights improved their body image. What's not to like about that?
You'll be better at other sports
Interested in running or another sport as well as weightlifting? Well, lifting can help you in your other athletic pursuits, too! It corrects muscle imbalances that cause bad posture, making you able to do other sports with less chance of injury (link). It also builds stamina, so you'll be able to run, swim, or bike longer than before.
You'll have more muscle power
Weightlifting really works your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which are responsible for giving you quick bursts of power (strength) and speed (link here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2681218/). So, lifting will help you be a better sprinter!
It's a quick workout
It can be done anywhere
A highly-portable workout, you can certainly go to the gym to lift weights, if you want. But, if you need to, you can lift weights anywhere, at home or even at your desk. Pop in a weightlifting DVD and use soup cans, jars, or your own weights in the comfort of your own home. You can actually lift weights just by using your own body weight, no special gadgets required. This method of using just your body for resistance training can be safer than using weights, particularly for beginners (link here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/fitness-experts-bodyweight-machines-workout_n_4095706.html).
You're less likely to get cancer
One research study found that weightlifting can reduce the oxidative stress in the body. It's thought that having less oxidative stress reduces your risk of cancer.
You'll have a sleeker, more defined physique.
The perk of increased muscle mass and strength from weightlifting doesn't just help you feel better on the inside, it helps you look good, too! Increased muscle strength can help you improve your posture---no more slouching---and the increased muscle mass adds definition to your shape (especially arms and legs) that you'd struggle to get with just cardio.
You'll be able to do more around the house.
Strength training increases your general fitness level, energy, and muscle tone, so you'll actually be able to lift that heavy table yourself, without asking for help. With your increased energy, you'll probably feel like doing more housework or yard work, and you'll be quicker at it, too.
You won't be bored by your workouts.
Unlike other workouts, where you hit the treadmill every day, with weightlifting, you can (and should) mix things up! Focus on legs one day and upper body the next. That way, you'll give your muscles the time they need to recover (link here http://www.greatist.com/fitness/do-my-muscles-need-two-days-to-recover/), and you'll keep your workouts interesting, too!