Up until four months ago, I never thought of myself as a “weight lifter.” I typically always focused on cardio exercises to try and burn the most calories.
But I had a garage with dumbbells and weight plates that were collecting dust.
So I started hitting the gym and lifting weights!
To my surprise, I changed my mentality of what I wanted to accomplish with my body and the gym.
Instead of focusing on ticking down the number on the scale, I’m now focusing on gaining muscle and losing fat.
Once I started lifting weights I was astounded with all the benefits! Yes, the muscle definition is amazing to see in the mirror.
However, the benefits of weight lifting go beyond gaining lean muscle mass.
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First off, I am no guru on health and fitness. I am simply just a mom who loves to workout and loves to lift weights!
But I didn’t always have a love for it up until about four to five months ago.
I actually started working out for completely selfish reasons on my part. We had weight equipment in the garage and I simply wanted time to myself away from my kids!
Don’t get me wrong, I love my boys more than anything! But every mama needs a break now and then!
So I started pumping some iron and quickly realized this was my “thing.”
Weight lifting is something for me to do for myself that doesn’t involve taking care of my family, house, or work.
Now, I’m addicted to weight lifting and eating right (most of the time!) and I wanted to share the benefits you too can receive from starting a weight training program!
What Is Weight Training?
Weight training or strength training is any physical activity involving weights and/or resistance.
While cardio exercises focus on cardiovascular and heart health, weight training is focused on targeting small and large muscle groups to increase strength.
Over time, you will begin to see the benefits of weight training with as little as 2 to 3 sessions a week of 20-30 minutes.
A weight training program can consist of free weights like dumbbells, resistance bands, weight machines, and bodyweight exercises. Everyone has a preference for what they prefer for building muscle.
I’ve found a combination of different exercise equipment and activities are best for keeping your fat loss and muscle growth from plateauing. But how do muscles grow in size?
When you’re weight training the fibers in your muscles tear. The body then refuses the muscle fibers resulting in increased muscle growth and strength. Of course, this is a simple way of explaining muscle development!
If you are consistently challenging your muscles with heavier weights or resistance, you will keep creating small muscle fiber tears for your body to repair.
This is why you may be sore after a challenging workout the next day!
The muscle soreness you feel is actually a good thing because you know your muscles were challenged enough to create tears and eventually rebuild themselves to become stronger.
To keep seeing muscle mass gains and muscle strength, resistance and weight need to be increased gradually. But do no be afraid you will get “too bulky” from lifting weights!
Women’s bodies are much different from men and carry lean muscle mass differently. Men will “bulk up,” while women will maintain a leaner frame. (Of course, there are plenty of women who choose to “bulk up” as much as possible and there’s nothing wrong with that!)
Weight training for women will only make you leaner. Your muscles will not look overly big unless you are specifically trying to “bulk up.”
So don’t be afraid of hitting the weights multiple times a week to see the amazing benefits of weight training on your body and mind!
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The Benefits Of Weight Training
Weight Training Boosts Confidence
When you first begin weight training, you will be lifting light and you’ll most likely be sore.
But slowly as your muscles build and you will improve in strength and be able to lift more and more.
With lifting heavier weight, you will also begin to see increased muscle definition in areas you’ve never seen before!
How would you like to look in the mirror each day and think, “Wow. Look how strong I’ve become!”
That’s one of the best benefits of weight training, your confidence goes through the roof! You will begin loving how you feel inside and outside of the gym. With every weight training session, you do you will feel a sense of empowerment!
If you can lift heavy weights, think of what else you can accomplish in life! Once you start seeing results (both in the amount of weight you lift and your body) you’re hooked on weight lifting and you have to keep progressing!
I know… Duh! Building strength is what it’s all about weight training.
But do you lift heavier weights or complete more reps with lighter weights? Always opt for heavier weights!
Lifting heavier weights breaks down muscle fibers more for them to refuse while completing more reps with lighter weights builds muscle endurance.
All the extra muscle you’re building up pays off inside the gym by increasingly lifting more weight than you use to.
Outside the gym, you’ll find yourself able to accomplish everyday lifting tasks like carrying groceries, and lifting your children just got a lot easier for you!
Increases Fat Loss
That’s right! One of the massive benefits of weight training is that lifting weights scorches calories to aid in bigger gains in fat loss.
Have you ever heard “Muscle weighs more than fat”? Well, muscle does weigh more than body fat.
So once you start hitting the weights you may notice the scale is not moving, but you’re losing inches!
Many people are focused on losing weight, however, the number on the scale doesn’t tell the whole story! It doesn’t tell you your lean muscle mass.
When you’re focused on the number on the scale, you may be losing lean muscle mass as well as fat.
But when you lose inches and your weight is the same… That’s fat loss! So how exactly are you able to lose so much fat with weight training?
Because lifting weights speeds up your metabolism helping your body to burn more calories even after your workout! In fact, for each pound of muscle gained, your body burns 30 to 50 extra calories per day!
While a cardio session will burn more calories during the exercise, weight lifting burns a higher amount of calories after an exercise session is done.
A research study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine and Metabolism found women who completed a 100-minute weight lifting session increased their basal metabolic rate by 4.2% for 16 hours AFTER the workout.
This is the equivalent of burning an extra 60 calories!
Prevents Future Injuries
Contrary to what people think, lifting iron actually helps to prevent future injuries on the body. Of course, there is always a risk for injury while lifting weights if you don’t practice proper weight lifting technique!
Assuming your lifting technique is flawless, lifting weights helps build muscle along with increasing joint stability and connective tissues around joints. Many women credit weight training to relieving their lower back pain entirely!
Along with helping with joint stability, weight lifting increases bone density ultimately lowering your risk of osteoporosis in the future.
Personally, I have noticed a huge reduction in back pain since I started weight training! Except on deadlift day!
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Fights Depression And Anxiety
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said to my husband, “I’m so stressed! I’m going to the gym!” Thankfully, we’ve created an at-home gym in the garage.
One of the greatest benefits of weight training for women (myself included) is relieving depression and anxiety!
According to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry weight training/resistance training reduces mild to moderate symptoms of depression. This was only with participants’ weight training a minimum of two days a week!
From this study, researchers concluded individuals with severe depression symptoms could “prove even more beneficial.”
Similarly, research published in Scientific Reports studied how an 8-week weight lifting routine affects anxiety sufferers. Throughout the program, participants completed anxiety questionnaires while engaging in weight training exercises with dumbbells like lunges, squats, deadlifts, and crunches.
At the end of 8 weeks, the participants reported a 20% decrease in anxiety-related symptoms compared to the control group of participants who did not weight train for 8 weeks!
As your body breaks down and rebuilds your muscles even stronger, your overall agility, power, and performance increase.
To accomplish your fitness goals, it’s suggested to complete a combination of cardio and weight training. But as you build more muscle mass, your core, spine, and back muscles become stronger as well which aids in overall performance.
Before weight training, I could not run a mile all at once. Over the last few months, I slowly started adding in running on a treadmill to my routine. At first, I couldn’t even complete an entire mile running.
Then, when I started lifting heavier weights and focusing more on deadlifts, squats, and chest press something happened… I ran a mile consecutively in about 13 minutes.
Then, another week went by and I decreased my mile time to 11:27.
I feel lifting weights helped with both power and agility to increase my performance in the cardio department.
I wrote this article about the benefits of weight training because I’m addicted to lifting weights now! I’m in my home gym 5 to 6 days a week weight training.
My best advice-Start a home gym! And I continue to be astounded by the benefits!
One benefit I’ve noticed (although it’s more of a personal benefit) is that I sleep better! I’ve always had trouble sleeping, but after burning off so much energy and stress lifting weights I’ve found I’m exhausted and fall asleep right away!
That is if my boys let me sleep through the night! I cannot implore you enough to look to change your mentality about weight loss and fitness. You don’t have to obsess over what your weight is.
It doesn’t define who you are and does not tell you how much muscle you have.
Change your thinking and forget about weight loss! Instead, focus your attention on lifting heavy and building muscle strength.
Don’t worry about losing weight!
Before you know it, those extra pounds and inches you want to get rid of will come off in no time by lifting iron!