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Seven Reasons To Lift Weights

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

There's a lot of fear and confusion surrounding weight-lifting, especially among women. I get questions all the time like, "What's the best exercise to lose weight around my abdomen?" or "What if I suffer from low back pain or another injury?" Then they start to worry, "I don't want to get too bulky!" When I was a freshman in college, I had no idea what weight training was going to do for me.

We're all on a different health journey, and it's natural for us to worry about pain, struggle with body image, and to approach a new activity with caution. We want to seek out facts and well-informed opinions to support our desired health goals, whatever they are! What I want to challenge you, and what I hope this post will encourage you to think about, is to see how strength training might be the answer to your questions, based on several proven benefits. Hopefully we can work to eliminate some fear of women lifting weights!

1. Increasing bone mass.

Our bones respond to the work we ask them to perform. We hear the phrase, "Use it or lose it!" and it's true in this case! When we train our bodies to carry heavy loads safely, our bones respond by generating new cells and getting stronger— more dense. We start to lose our natural bone mass in our thirties. Ask around and hear stories of women who have even reversed osteopenia because they decided to lift weights!

2. Balancing blood pressure.

There is a cardiorespiratory component to weight lifting that sometimes goes unrecognized. We don't need a treadmill to get our heart rates up, even though walking does count as weight bearing exercise! Working out at a moderate intensity with regularly spaced rest intervals gives our hearts and lungs the opportunity to get stronger, while not overdoing our exercise. Gradual, steady progress can be the result, especially as we focus on getting the nutrition we need to maintain a healthy heart!

3. Boosting our mood.

Research shows that regular strength training can help our mental health too. Apart from the satisfaction of mastering new techniques and gaining confidence, we have a go-to strategy for managing stress, anxiety and depression. Our moods respond to our workouts, because our bodies and minds are living organisms that are amazingly adaptable!

4. Supporting multiple joints.

When we lift weights, we are learning to keep our joints in their natural alignment. Focusing on good technique and rep schemes enables us to build muscle safely and effectively. The more control we build up around our knees, hips and shoulders, the less likely we may be to get injured in daily life, in sports, or at work. There's evidence that our joint cartilage can respond to resistance training too. Even simple movements can have an effect on how our joints feel, especially after a good warmup.

5. Building the metabolism.

Our bodies adapt to the stress we give them by building more muscle. When we create this energy demand, we burn more calories at rest. Many people say they see the best results for weight loss when they add strength training to their program! Using a moderate weight training plan can support lean muscle growth without adding inches to our biceps. Believe me, we have to lift HEAVY to see huge muscle gains, and most of us are not going to do that by accident.

6. Stabilizing the spine.

A well-designed strength training program starts with the core and protects the natural alignment of our vertebrae, from our head to our hips! Our posture depends on overall muscle balance and joint stability. When we strengthen the legs, glutes, abdomen and back, we protect and support the long-term health of the spine!

7. It's just fun!

There's the endorphin rush that comes with exercise (shh, it's the same chemical circuit that marijuana affects), but we also get to learn something new! Are we going to do crunches and lunges forever, or are we going to master that single leg deadlift to work the WHOLE body? Whether it's with kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, sleds, medicine balls, sandbags, or soup cans from the kitchen, we can find something that is going to easily take us to the next level of our fitness.

The American Heart Association recommends at least two days of resistance training each week to start seeing results! I hope you'll jump in and see for yourself!

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