When it comes to weightlifting, most gym-users tend to fall into one of two camps: either they love it or they hate it. Whether it’s down to a lack of knowledge or a bit of ‘gymtimidation’, a lot of people stick to cardio and bodyweight exercises, thinking the weights area is exclusively for bulking up.
Don’t let this stigma fool you into thinking that weightlifting isn’t for you. There are a number of amazing health benefits that come with choosing dumbbells over the treadmill -- and some of them may surprise you.
To help show you the value of weightlifting, we’ve debunked the myths and created a list of what you could gain by adding weights to your workout.
1. You’ll get stronger
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: lifting weights makes you stronger.
Even exercising with light weights will help to build your muscular endurance, but, if it’s physical strength you’re looking for, the heavier the better. By adding compound lifts like squats and deadlifts to your regular workout routine, you’ll increase your strength at an incredible rate.
2. You’ll burn body fat
As well as strengthening your muscles, lifting weights is also a brilliant way to burn body fat. By using weights in the gym, you can increase your lean body mass, which increases how many overall calories you burn throughout the day.
You could burn a comparable amount of calories from an hour of cardio as you would an hour of weight training, but by hitting the weights, your body’s improved metabolism will continue to burn calories after your workout while you’re sat at work or binging Netflix.
Lifting heavy weights is also great for your core, as it engages your abdominal muscles automatically. So, it’ll give you an abs workout without you even knowing!
3. It’s fantastic for women
“Lifting weights will make you bulky!” is a phrase most women have heard in the gym at some point.
But that’s not strictly the case. Although it is possible for women to achieve bodybuilder-like physiques, this takes an enormous amount of time and dedication. Women’s bodies only produce 5-10% of the testosterone that men do, so it’s much more difficult to bulk up.
The good news is that lifting heavy weights will help your muscles become super-lean and defined, so you’ll become stronger and more toned without dramatically increasing in size.
4. It reduces your risk of injury
Have you ever woken up after a long session on the treadmill with sore knees and stiff hips? Well, weightlifting maybe the solution you’re looking for. And it’s not just running: weight training is also great for sports with lots of heavy footfalls like football or tennis.
The more you train your muscles, you’ll find your landings taking much less of a toll on your joints. That’s because strengthening the muscles around your joints will help protect them as you exercise.
Strong joints, ligaments and tendons are very important for preventing injuries during exercise, so lifting weights ensures you wake up feeling good-as-new instead of full of aches and pains.
5. It’s good for your bones
Weightlifting doesn’t just strengthen your muscles: it strengthens your bones, too.
By regularly exercising with weights, you can help prevent bone loss and reduce the risk of fractures or even osteoporosis. Studies have even shown that lifting heavy weights can not only maintain bone mass but can build bone density, too.
6. Your cardio performance will improve
If there’s one universal truth to strength training, it’s that stronger muscles mean better performance.
Adding weightlifting to your workouts is a brilliant way to improve your running and swimming game, as stronger core muscles will help to better support your body’s weight. Plus, once you’ve built up strength in your arms and legs, they’ll become more powerful to give you the boost you need to smash your personal best!
7. It improves your mood
The benefits of lifting weights are not just physical - you can also receive a serious boost to your mood and self-esteem.
Training with weights releases endorphins, hormones that relieve stress, fight depression and make you feel happy overall. They also stimulate your brain, helping you to stay focused and full of energy.
It’s not just these hormones that make you feel good, either. For first-time weightlifters, watching yourself progress and lift heavier weights than you thought possible is a fantastic way to build your confidence, too!
If you’ve been inspired to grab a pair of dumbbells and see how lifting weights can benefit you, head down to your local Fitness First gym and treat yourself to a free workout on us with our three-day guest pass.
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