10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LIFT WEIGHTS

Some time ago I posted about 10 important factors to consider in exercise and said I would elaborate on each point. So, starting with my first point on why you should lift weights, here are 10 good reasons, and there are many more, so please feel free to add to the list. Note, when I refer to weight training, I use the term broadly to include body weight and other forms of resistance training as well as weight training. Also, always consult with you physician before embarking on an exercise program.
1. Burn more calories every day

Anyone wanting to lose or manage their weight needs to lift weights. Lifting weights, and progressively applying an overload, will increase your fat free mass (primarily muscle), when combined with a healthy eating plan. Increasing your muscle mass speeds up your resting metabolic rate, which means you burn more calories at rest and during everyday activity. The more calories you burn at rest, the more effective you become at managing your weight.

2. Improve your coordination and movement pattern

Weight training improves the efficiency with which the nervous system works to bring about movement. Weight training develops your entire nervous system, from the motor cortex (movement centre of the brain) to the spinal cord, to motor units (where nerves attach to muscle fibers to bring about movement). The result is greater force production and greater body control. Many of the strength gains experienced during the first few months of weight training are primarily as a result of improvements in the neuromuscular system resulting in a greater ability to activate muscle fibers and control movement.

3. Build strong bones
Through mechanical loading of the bones – lifting weights, the bones are stimulated to produce protein – primarily collagen, to increase in strength and density. By progressively increasing the loads you lift, over time, you will progressively increase bone density. Structural exercises like squats and lunges in which you load the spine in a vertical plane, are particularly effective. An increase in bone density and strength is great news for everyone, and particularly those at risk for stress fractures, osteoporosis, osteopenia and other bone diseases. Studies on the elderly have shown an ability to maintain or even increase bone mineral density with weight training! Note that if you do suffer from any of the above, you need a very specific intervention, so speak to a specialist.

4. Stronger joints
Strength training builds stronger tendons, ligaments and fascia, and ensures proper nutrient supply to cartilage for good joint health and repair from everyday wear and tear. In addition, the right programme and good exercise form will improve the range of movement around joints, address muscle imbalances and improve posture. All these benefits are vitally important for efficient, pain free movement, and essential for anyone engaging in sport, be it endurance , or strength and power related.

5. Hormone regulation
Anabolic hormones eg testosterone, growth hormone, IGF, play a vital role in building and repairing your body, and keeping the body functioning optimally. With strength training, over time your body becomes more efficient at the production and uptake of anabolic hormones during and after exercise bouts, helping you to function and perform optimally.

6. Power production
Strength is a critical component of power. Any sport or activity that requires rapid acceleration , for example, sprinting on the track or on the bike, or power sports like rugby and tennis, all require optimal force production. The stronger the muscles, the more force they produce, the more they can be trained for power, speed and acceleration. It’s not only for strength and power athletes, many endurance athletes are also incorporating strength and power training into their routines to optimize their economy of movement, and for that last kick at the end of a race.

7. Aerobic Capacity
High volume strength training with minimal rest periods has been shown to improve VO2max (maximal oxygen uptake) which is important for all the endurance athletes out there, along with the other benefits already mentioned.

8. The more you can lift, the greater your output , the better the results.
It’s simple, the heavier you can lift in any given rep range, the harder you can work, and the better your body will respond to exercise. So many people do themselves a disservice by not improving their strength. Think of it like this: If you’re only capable of lifting pink dumbbells, no matter how hard you try to work, you won’t get through as much work as someone doing the same routine lifting heavier weights, and your body won’t respond as quickly. Devote time to improving your strength gains.

9. Everyday functionality
Everyday life requires you to lift objects, bend, squat, lunge, twist, push, pull. The stronger you are, the better you move and the more self-sufficient and capable you will be throughout your life.

10. Self confidence
Ask anyone who lifts weights, they will tell you that developing physical strength takes mental preparation, an emotional investment and a great deal of sweat. It is a process you work through that reveals an inner strength you never knew you had. It grows your self-confidence and belief that reflects in every aspect of your life.

Wherever you are in your health and fitness journey, make a start with resistance training that is appropriate to your level and specific needs. We look forward to showing you how in the weeks to come.