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10 reasons why you should lift weights

November 12, 2013 18:25 IST

10 reasons why you should lift weights

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Jivesh Shetty

Fitness trainer Jivesh Shetty explains the health benefits of pumping iron

There is a misconception that by doing weight training you run the risk of developing large, unsightly muscles that make you look 'big' and 'bulky'. This simply isn't true. In fact if increasing size is your goal, you will need to combine your weight training programme with an appropriate eating programme in order to gain and develop muscle size.

The truth of the matter is that lifting weights has many health benefits, no matter who you are, what age you are and what level of fitness you are currently at.

As strength athletes, we are often asked 'why should I lift weights?' Research has shown that a well structured weight training programme is beneficial in assisting weight loss, promoting health and improving quality of life.

Read on for 10 great reasons why we should all have a go at weight training.

The author is Strength & Conditioning Coach, Birla Wellness.


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10 benefits of weight training

1. Increased metabolic rate

Strength training increases the body's metabolic rate, causing the body to burn more calories throughout the day, even when not exercising!

As muscle is active tissue, having lean muscle mass causes metabolic activity to increase and energy (i.e. calories) to be expended. Your overall body weight measured by scales may not change, but you will gain muscle and lose fat.

Over time you should notice decreases in waist measurements and body fat measurement.

2. Increasing and restoring bone density

Inactivity and ageing can lead to a decrease in bone density and brittleness. Studies have clearly proven that consistent strength training can increase bone density and prevent Osteoporosis.


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3. Increased lean muscle mass, muscle strength, power, and endurance

Every body can benefit from being stronger. We can work harder, we can play more, we can workout longer, and we can be more alive, once again adding to our quality of living.

4. Injury prevention

A wide variety of sports-related or life-related injuries can be prevented by strengthening muscles and joints.

Strong muscles, tendons, and ligaments are less likely to give way under stress and are less likely to be injured. Increased bone density and strength has shown to reduce back and knee pain by building muscles that surround these areas and joints.


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5. Improved balance, flexibility, mobility and stability

Stronger more resilient muscles improve our balance and proprioception. This equates to more comfortable living and fewer falls or accidents.

Weight training which works the muscles through a full range of motion can improve your overall body flexibility, which can reduce the risk of muscle pulls and back pain.

6. Decreased risk of coronary disease

Participation in a consistent strength-training programme has a wide variety of affiliated health benefits including decreasing cholesterol and lowering your blood pressure.


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7. Aids rehabilitation and recovery

One of the best ways to heal many types of injuries is to strengthen muscles surrounding the injured area. The stronger your muscles, the quicker the healing process.

8. Enhanced performance in sports or exercise

No matter what your favourite sport or physical activity, with the proper strength training programme, your performance can unquestionably be improved.


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9. Age gracefully

Physical activity keeps us alive and vibrant. Strength training ensures we are strong enough to participate in aerobic activities, outdoor recreation, and sports.

Strong seniors with a developed sense of balance and proprioception, experience less falls. If a fall is experienced a stronger body is more resilient and less likely to be injured by the fall.

If an injury is experienced a stronger body is better able to heal and recover quickly from the injury.

10. Feeling better and looking better (Body composition)

As painful as strength training can sometimes feel, there is nothing more satisfying than the feeling after a good solid workout. Stronger muscles and joints can have a dramatic impact on posture and leaner toned muscles tend to make everyone feel better about their appearance. This may assist in improving self-esteem and self-confidence.


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Health benefits of weight training:

  • Increases high density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) and decrease low density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol)
  • Reduces risk of diabetes and insulin needs
  • Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Lowers risk of breast cancer -- reduces high oestrogen levels linked to the disease
  • Decreases or minimises risk of osteoporosis by building bone mass
  • Reduces symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Decreases colds and illness
  • Lowers mortality rates for all ages

Whether your motivation is aesthetics or to improve your general well-being, or simply a combination of both, there are many benefits to be gained by lifting weights.

A well structured programme with the appropriate amount of resistance and consistency in participation can make a huge difference in how we live our lives.


Photographs: Nick Laham/ALLSPORT

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