10 reasons why you should be lifting weights

If you want to get in shape, blast excess fat, and generally kick-ass, then strength training is where it’s at

A strong body leads to a strong mind

The stronger you feel physical, the stronger you’ll feel mental. Strength has a way of spreading throughout your whole life; it’s not just reserved for the gym.

By doing things you didn’t think possible at the weight rack, your confidence will grow. You’ll be empowered to take this newfound confidence into your daily life.

Lifting weights has also been found to help battle mild depression.

You’ll be a better athlete

Stronger muscles will mean you perform better at whatever other fitness activities you do. Your body will be stronger, so you can push harder in your chosen area, be it running or tennis or martial arts (or absolutely anything).

Lifting blasts more belly fat than cardio

20 minutes of weight training is better for keeping the belly fat under control as you age, than 20 minutes of cardio, according to a Harvard study.

The study, published in Obesity, showed that healthy men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training had less increase in age-related abdominal fat than men who spent the same amount of time on aerobic activities.

Keeping belly fat under control lowers the risk of diabetes.

Burn more calories sitting still

The faster your metabolic rate — the pace at which your body consumes calories at rest – the more muscle you have.

Long-term metabolic rate increases require weight training and retaining lean muscle mass in your body.

Muscle burns about 73 more calories per kilogram per day, so the more muscle you build, the higher your resting metabolic rate.

Resistance training strengthens bones

Lifting weights doesn’t only build muscle – it builds bone too. Resistance exercises and weight training can keep your bones strong, which is particularly important as you get older to stave off osteoporosis.

This is because bones, like a muscle, break down and rebuild throughout our lives. When we are young, we rebuild faster than we break down – known as peak bone mass.

We all begin to slowly lose bone mass once we hit 40, but this is slowed by proper nutrition and regular exercise.

Lifting leads to a healthier heart

According to research at Appalachian State University, resistance training can improve blood flow while lowering blood pressure by up to 20%. As a result, the risk factors for heart disease are reduced.

A regular programme of weight training improves heart and lung function. When our muscles are stronger, there is less demand placed on the heart.

Strength training can ease joint pain

Proper strength training is great for your joints – just make sure you’re using good form. Knee pain is one of the most common joint pain reported.

Harvard Health Publications points out: ‘The right set of exercises can be a long-lasting way to tame ankle, knee, hip or shoulder pain.

By strengthening important supporting muscles and restoring flexibility, joint pain alleviation activities may allow you to postpone – or perhaps prevent – surgery on a troublesome joint that has been developing for years.’

So, squat low – your knees will thank you.

Enhances range of motion and flexibility

Strength training through a full range of motion has been shown to improve flexibility.

A study by the University of North Dakota looking at university-aged volunteers found strength training improved flexibility more so than typical stretching regimes.

Lifting boosts your memory

Research shows lifting weights can help protect your memory and improve mental reflexes. Research from the Georgia Institute of Technology shows an intense 20-minute workout can boost long-term memory by about 10 per cent.

Weight training will improve your diet

Dieting is dull and difficult and not particularly effective in the long run. But if you can change the habit and eat better, as a rule, you’ll feel the benefits long-term. Exercise helps your brain stick to a healthy diet.