As you read this, you may be wondering, why the hell would I even care about the health benefits weightlifting has to offer me?
I mean, the only reason we're working out is to get the body of our dreams, right?
Well, building the body of your dreams may seem like a good enough reason to start pumping iron, but there's so much more to a good workout regime.
Personally, I get this way of thinking. I started working out as a kid because I hated my fat and I wanted a body like Van-Damme's. (I was 15, what do you expect?)
But as I got older, I realized that lifting weights regularly comes with a ton of other benefits. Healthy benefits.
So you might not be hitting the gym because you want to live longer, but you should at least know what a good workout will do to your health in the long run.
1. Strong Body, Strong Heart
Studies have now shown that strength training is more valuable to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases than aerobic exercises like running or cycling alone.
Even small amounts of strength training can do wonders for your heart and keep it beating strong.
The best thing you can do for your heart is to squeeze both cardio and weightlifting programs into your busy schedule.
But, if you're human like me and you forget what your kids look like, even weightlifting alone can benefit your heart.
So how does bench press or a bicep curl help your heart?
Visceral fat sits around precious organs but can also be found in the arteries which can lead to a heap of health issues, like stroke, heart attack, diabetes and more.
Not only weightlifting helps burn the fat, but it also increases the blood flow during your workout to the working muscles, and helps you keep a low and steady blood pressure long after you finished exercising.
2. And Strong Bones
Bones are at a constant phase of change; they grow and minimize throughout life continually depending on how you are taking care of them.
Fractures are prevalent in the older generation due to the weakened state and loss of bone mass mainly in the hips, back and wrist.
Weightlifting can help prevent fractures or breaks in bones by adding more density to them.
Multiple studies show that high-level resistance training can toughen your bones.
Approximately 300,000 people will suffer from a hip fracture every year, and there are enormous health risks associated with the elderly breaking a hip, and it even doubles their mortality rate as time goes on.
Nearly 6 out of 10 people will not recover fully from hip surgery, which renders them helpless and reliant on others whereas before they may have been entirely independent.
However, with aerobic activity and additional weightlifting added to the mix, bone mass loss can literally and figuratively be stopped.
Weightlifting can aid in strengthening the hips and back, which is where most of the fractures happen.
Lifting weights over time makes the bones dense, which is what makes them sturdy and harder to break, even from a fall.
3. The Definition of Muscle (Literally)
Muscle weighs more than fat. This busted myth has been around for ages, yet people still buy it.
One pound equals one pound seems obvious, right?
But we humans are visual creatures, and you'll probably never guess that someone who's in top shape weighs the same 160 lbs as someone who's overweight.
The actual difference between the one pound of fat and the one pound of muscle is that muscle is much leaner and takes up less space than fat.
Lifting weights regularly will help you get rid of the fat that sits on top of your muscles, making it hard to spot you even have some. (Six-pack anyone?)
More muscles mean better blood supply, which means you'll burn more calories at rest than body fat.
So not only will you build your muscles mass, but you'll also get rid of the fat faster.
The end result?
It will make your muscles look more defined, and you'll finally be able to show off that six-pack of yours.
And isn't that what it's all about? (Well, no, but if that's what will keep you pumping, then so be it)
4. Feelin' Good
The majority of people know that exercising can help reduce the overwhelming feelings of stress.
But not too many people know that weightlifting should be their go-to activity when it comes to reducing depression and stress levels or getting mood boosts.
Endorphins are released when you do all sorts of exercise types, but even more do, when you pump iron.
Researchers found that people who worked-out two to three times a week, saw a major decrees in depression levels and all the symptoms that come with it.
But depression is not the only thing that's on the line when you pump iron.
You may also get an occasional mood boost regardless of your medical or health status, and get this, even if you're not actually getting stronger. Huh!
Whenever you feel down in the dumps, or have a high-level stress job (Hello Mr. President), or you just had one of those days, head to the gym and start pumping them weights.
5. Give Your Metabolism A Boost
If you are struggling with weight loss, like many people do, you might have heard the word metabolism thrown around by your doctor or fitness instructor.
The main definition that you need to be concerned with is that your metabolism converts food into energy.
Finding out which metabolic type you are, will help you figure out how much exercising, food intake, hours of sleep you need, etc...
How does lifting weights fits in the equation? Well, your resting metabolism can increase by simply weightlifting.
Meaning, that if you include lifting weights in your workout regimen, your body will increase the number of calories it burns at rest.
This research found a 9% increase in resting metabolism rate in men, and 4% in women.
When translated into raw numbers, the increase is not that high.
The men only burned about 150 extra calories per day, and the women about 50.
However, when we combine the finding of the above research with this one, we learn that weight lifting keeps you metabolic rate up for up to 38 hours after your workout.
You might not burn as many calories as a 5K run, but, you can potentially burn more at rest thanks to your higher resting metabolism. And in the long run, weight lifting can actually help you keep off the weight you lost.
6. Body Mechanics
The term body mechanics refers to how we move with our bodies every day.
Body mechanics is critical to our bodies working long and hard into our old age and still be comfortable.
It is almost unnatural to have proper posture and lift with our legs.
In fact, for many physical jobs, there is information on how to lift heavy weights properly.
You know, just to keep people from breaking their backs and such.
Lifting weights can put a toll on anyone's back if not careful, especially when lifting really heavy weights.
If you'll do it right, lifting weights can help you develop a proper posture and correct form, while also helping you keep balance in every part of your body.
Again, keeping balance helps in old age, since falling is very common for older folks.
Balance may seem like a minuscule worry for some and even not considered as an important factor, but it can help weight lifters achieve complete workouts like the clean and jerk.
Some injuries sustained in Olympic competitions are attributed to improper balance with weights.
When you begin your weightlifting journey, make sure you lift with your legs and arms; never use your lower back to lift anything as this is the leading cause of many lower back injuries.
If you need further assistance for proper lifting, seek a professional or certified trainer.
There are plenty of studies that back up the fact that aerobic exercising helps people sleep better.
But did you know that strength training can help you sleep better too?
When you weight-lift, your body is putting a lot of physical effort.
Causing physical changes that stimulates regulation of life's irritations, which in turn help normalize sleep patterns.
Fact, sleep is necessary for the growth and repair of all muscles; it encourages the body to recover for the following day.
Growth hormones dwindle during the day because stress hormones take over.
When you strength train, your body releases hormones and in turn, help you sleep better.
In other words, our good moods improve our sleep thanks to exercising.
Weightlifting attributes to sleeping deeper and aids in falling asleep faster because growing muscles and sleep go hand in hand.
For example, when you're deeply asleep your hormones become balanced and repair the torn muscles that you were working on.
Insomnia is associated with anxiety and depression, but exercising helps alleviate the magnitude of the symptoms that some people suffer from.
One study even suggested that with only one round of exercising a person can expect to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer through the night; think of what would happen to your sleep if you lifted weights regularly?
8. get Better at Your Sport
For the past few decades, it is more acceptable for people who are training for most athletic sports to incorporate strength training as part of their normal fitness routine.
There are many sports where the entire team or person may be lifting weights for one day because it is integral for development and progress.
One key component is that strength training targets specific muscle groups, whereas aerobic exercising uses many all at once for an overall body workout.
Building muscle means targeting that precise muscle until you tear it up, and it grows bigger.
For example, if you play soccer, you would want to target your glutes and hamstrings for a more powerful and forceful kick.
If you play basketball or baseball, you would target your biceps and deltoids so you could throw the ball longer and faster.
There are mostly positive things to say on aerobic exercising, but combining weight lifting to focus on the core muscles that will only make you a better, faster, and stronger athlete; it will also help define muscle groups for the ultimate athlete.
9. Improve Your Flexibility
Researchers in the past ten years have refuted the notion that weight training is just as effective if not more than static stretching.
The researchers were able to compare people doing static stretching versus strength training.
The conclusion from the research was that strength training will not only improve one's strength, but also its flexibility.
In some cases, even more than stretching, plus it helped improve hip flexibility and build knee strength.
Most joint injuries happen due to the lack of muscle surrounding the joint for support and protection; this is why strengthening the body is so essential for people of any age, but especially in old age.
There's that old myth that says as your muscles get bigger, you lose flexibility, experiments debunked this theory.
The difference between the outcomes of static stretching and power lifting is through lifting weights, you are changing the entire muscle, whereas static stretching only increases pain tolerance.
So, If want to be real flexible, start lifting weights.
10. It Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that deteriorates bone mass, especially in older folks, and unfortunately, many people will not know that they suffer from it until there is a pain or worse injury.
According to doctors, about 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 have a chance of succumbing to an osteoporotic fracture.
Even more frightening, according to statistics about every 3 seconds a fracture due to osteoporosis occurs around the world.
There is no turning back the clock, but you do not have to live in your old age as feeble and weak.
Studies have shown that if you want those strong and solid bones, you will have to start lifting; there are two different types of osteoporosis exercises that you need to start: weight-bearing and muscle strengthening.
One study showed that the bones in the hip and back areas in women post-menopause became thicker and denser after they started lifting weights.
The bones in the hip and back areas are the ones that affected the most because of Osteoporosis, therefore the risk of pain and injuries is higher in those areas.
11. Be A Better Runner
If you are a runner and looking for ways to improve running times and prevent common injuries than look no further to lifting weights.
Runners should incorporate strength training into their regular workouts to increase power, coordination, stride, and speed.
Sport's medicine physicians recommend splitting up workouts into three sections
- Upper Body
- Lower Body
For the upper body, get those arms as strong as possible because your arms and legs are connected and work as a support system.
When your legs are getting tired, your arms will take over and take the lead, like in running.
Focus on your core, since your abs and back muscles fire up during running.
Plus, your core is what balances you as you take every stride. The lower body seems obvious of needing to work on your legs, but more specifically, you will need to concentrate on calves and glutes.
12. It Helps Control Blood Sugar Level
Strength training is ideal for those who have the potential for diabetes or those that already have it.
Physicians alike agree that lifting weights and aerobic activities can help you normalize blood sugar, lose weight, respond to insulin better, and lower your risk of cardiovascular diseases.
For the two types of resistance training, low rep, and high rep affect blood levels differently.
For high-rep, your blood sugar levels are going to drop exponentially; it can be a similar heart rate to cardio, so take care of any precautionary measures.
Low reps, depending on the body part, do not utilize the heart as much, but the blood sugar levels can increase so be careful.
A case study was done recently showed an overall drop of 32% for people that were at risk for type 2 diabetes when they started resistance training and were consistent with the workouts.
Other studies concluded that it is the shaping of stronger muscles is what helps people with their blood sugar levels and their everyday living with diabetes.
Remember to always consult your doctor if you are on medication and going to begin a new exercise plan
13. Give Your Strength A Boost
It may seem silly to mention, but there are many instances in life where having the ability to move heavier objects comes in handy such as moving, rearranging furniture or something fell behind your grandma's heavy antique dresser.
Building powerful muscles throughout the body gives many rewards to the rest of the body.
A strong body will prevent many different kinds of injuries, avoid joint issues, and be able to lift more.
Depending on if you want a bulky look or more toned one is what kind of strength training you will need to do.
Bulky requires more weight and fewer reps, whereas toned is less weight, but more reps.
14. Get One With The universe
Move over yoga; resistance training has a place in the world for you if you want to feel better psychologically.
You will feel more motivated to keep going and continuing your training since you will be able to not only see the difference but sense the difference.
In fact, the impact weight lifting has on our mind is literally mind blowing.
This study shows It improved the anxiety symptoms of both healthy participants, and participants with mental illness.
Another Italian study showed that people who were 80 years and older(!) completed a 12-week strength training program and concluded that the older folks had an improvement in practical skills.
The study did not show why, but for an 80-year-old to improve their communication and problem solving is mind blowing and hopeful for anyone wanting to live a long life.
15. Boost Your Cardio Level
We know that muscle equals strength, but muscle also helps cardio workouts. According to fitness instructors, they call it the "cardio finisher" as it is meant to be the final and last workout.
These "cardio finishers" are intended to burn more fat because they are high intensity.
That's not the only reason to do it, but after a weightlifting workout, incorporate a 10 or 20-minute high-intensity exercise and it will not only boost the muscles that you have previously worked on, it will continue to burn off even more calories.
If you repeat this process over time, running, cycling, swimming, and any other cardio workout will seem more enjoyable rather than an actual exercise.
16. It Will make You Feel Powerful
What is your reason to workout? Is it to live longer? Be healthy? Whatever your reason, weightlifting provides one feeling that other workouts cannot, the sense of power.
Nearly every power lifter, weightlifter, strength trainers and whoever else pumps iron say the same thing that when they are gripping that dumbbell for their final rep, they feel they can conquer the world.
They exude self-confidence and pride in themselves.
Having this mindset can filter into other avenues of their lives and brings out the best in them. How would your life be if you felt that you could conquer the world?
17. Get Used To Achieving Your Goals
Can you imagine how you'll feel when you'll hit that 150 lbs bench press mark?
Considering the fact that you started with something like 60 lbs, it is more than just an accomplishment.
It may have taken more than six months for you to get there, but the sensation of lifting that 150 lbs packed bar straight up compared to what you used to bench is quite extraordinary.
Weightlifting can give your mood a boost and can even help you focus away from the scale and onto something more positive like the realization you are getting stronger because you can lift more.
18. It Can Increase Your Life Expectancy
Medical researchers found that strength training and life expectancy go hand in hand.
They found that people who lifted weights at least twice a week had a 46% less risk of dying early than those who did not.
They also confirmed that the people were 41% less likely to suffer from a cardiac event and nearly 20% less to developing any cancer in their lifetime.
Amazing that with less than an hour of lifting weights per week, your well-being can flourish as you get older.
In addition to a lower percentage of early death, you also have a higher chance of living more independently and comfortably in your old age and a lot less of a risk for multiple diseases.
Wrapping It Up
I hope that you enjoyed reading and getting insight as to why I would want people to start lifting weights; I want people to have a long, happy, and healthy life.
I know that my life would be different if I had not found the health benefits of weightlifting for myself.
If you have any questions or comments, please do so below, and I look forward to hearing any testimonials about including weightlifting into your life!