Five People Who Should Be Lifting Weights
When someone mentions lifting weights, many people tend to picture bodybuilders curling giant dumbbells until the veins in their arms look like they are going to pop. Some associate it with power lifters straining while squatting bars filled with big iron plates. And some think of twenty-somethings flexing in front of a mirror trying to get ready for summers full of beaches and bathing suits. But did you know that lifting weights regularly can benefit many different types of people? From 10-year-old soccer players to 70-year-old grandmothers, here are the top 5 people who should be lifting weights regularly:
People trying to lose body fat: Lifting weights regularly increases lean muscle mass which, in turn, increases metabolism. Muscle maintenance places a greater demand on the body’s energy systems. So, long after your training session is over, the body is a calorie burning machine. While cardiovascular activity has many benefits, regular weight training results in a higher bump in prolonged metabolic activity, leading to fat burning even while you are on your couch bingeing your favorite television show. Regular weight training has the added benefit of increased muscle tone and the fit and healthy appearance more and more people are trying to achieve. If you are looking to improve your body composition and appearance, the correct weight training program and proper diet are important pieces of the puzzle.
People over the age of 30: Research has shown that muscle mass tends to start declining over the age of 30, and weight training can slow that decline or even help to reverse it once it starts. Loss of muscle mass can lead to increased injury risk and joint pain. Weight training regularly can improve postural strength, as well as balance and joint stability, which means a decreased risk of injury. Including training that challenges the midsection while lifting can help prevent the occurrence of back pain. Weight training also improves the strength of muscles that support the joints and can reduce the risk and severity of arthritis pain as we age. Weight training in aging populations can serve as a practical fountain of youth when done regularly 2-3 times a week as part of an active lifestyle.
People under the age of 18: With the popularity of youth sports on the rise, weight training in younger populations can be beneficial when implemented properly and can lead to a reduction in sports injuries. Weight training can begin as early as eight years old and should be under the supervision of a trained professional. It can increase confidence, body awareness, control, and stability in youth athletes and even in those who don’t play organized sports. It is important to focus more on proper technique and lower weights in athletes who have not reached puberty. Beginning with body weight exercises is a great starting point for this population and even younger kids. So get your kid out from in front of the gaming system and into an age appropriate lifting routine (and make sure you do your research to ensure their trainer or coach knows how to program specifically for youth).
People with two X chromosomes: That’s right ladies…the weights aren’t just for the guys! Along with the long-term body composition changes you may be looking for, weight training has added benefits for ladies, especially those who plan to become mothers. Improved overall fitness and strength can make pregnancy and childbirth easier by reducing back pain and decreasing blood pressure. Being stronger can also help when it comes time to deliver and carry that baby and car seat around EVERYWHERE. In addition to these benefits for women, weight training can help increase bone density and decrease the risk or severity of osteoporosis, which affects many women after the onset of menopause when estrogen levels decrease. And NO, ladies, regular weight training will not make you look bulky.
Weight training can benefit everyone. By adding weight training to an active lifestyle just 2-3 days per week on a regular basis, you can improve sleep, prevent injury, be stronger for everyday activities, decrease blood pressure, and improve overall health. Who wouldn’t want that?
Before beginning a weight training program just remember:
Check with your doctor to make sure there is no reason you shouldn’t begin.
Seek out a professional trainer or coach to guide you to your goals safely.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep and food to recover (your trainer can help).
Find a program you enjoy to ensure you stick with it.
Be patient! Progress is a process.
If you are having trouble staying motivated, just re-read this to remember WHY you started.