Who Should Lift Weights? | The Benefits of Weight Training

Written by Elly McGuinness

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A fitness training plan can take many forms. With so many options available around what your program could look like, perhaps you’ve been left wondering whether weight training should be a focus for you. You’ve got your goals, injury, and medical status to consider, as well as your exercise preferences. Maybe you’ve even got a super-busy lifestyle and you’re wondering whether to prioritise weight training over another type of fitness activity?

We’re not here to tell you that you “should” lift weights, or choose any other specific pathway when it comes to improving your fitness. However, what we are excited to share are the immense benefits you can receive from including weight training in your overall plan. Let’s first clarify what weight training is, before diving into the benefits, and some general guidelines and precautions to be aware of.

Weight training versus resistance training

Resistance training is a type of training that aims to improve your muscular fitness, whether that’s strength and/or endurance based. In essence, weight training is a type of resistance training. Bodyweight training is another form of resistance training. Just like weight training, it can help you improve your muscular endurance and/or strength.

When we talk about the benefits of weight training, the majority, if not all of these benefits can also be gained through bodyweight training. Of course, there are some differences between these training types, so you may decide to choose one over the other or a combination of the two.

[Find out more in “Should I do weight training or bodyweight training?”]

The benefits of resistance training

Whether you choose to do weight training or bodyweight training, there are a huge number of associated benefits with these types of training. The benefits below highlight the main reasons to consider including resistance training in your fitness plan.

Improve muscular fitness

Whether muscular endurance or strength is important for you, resistance training is an excellent way to improve your muscular fitness.

Burn more body fat

Cardio is great for burning calories and helping you to achieve your weight loss goals. Resistance training also plays an important role, so a combination of training types can help produce a powerful fat burning effect.

Building muscle through resistance training helps you to burn more calories, even at rest. This means that the benefits of your resistance training workout can last long after the workout itself is finished.

[Find out more about fat burning exercises in “Top bodyweight exercises for burning fat”].

Develop a strong, lean physique

Contrary to the often commonly-held belief, resistance training does not necessarily make you look “bulky”. For most women, developing this level of muscle growth takes a lot of effort, dedication, and heavy lifting. Instead, resistance training can help you shape your muscles and overall physique.

[Find out more in “Myth-busting: Lifting heavy makes you massive”].

Increase bone strength

It’s common to only think of building and strengthening muscles when it comes to resistance training. However, resistance training is an excellent bone-building activity. High impact activities such as running and jumping are also great bone-building activities. However, they’re not suitable for everyone. This makes resistance training an especially important consideration for anyone who needs to avoid high-impact exercise.

Strengthen connective tissue

As well as bones and muscles, you’re also strengthening your connective tissue when you do resistance training. Ultimately, stronger ligaments and tendons help to keep your joints stronger.

Improve core strength and postural awareness

Core muscle strength and stability is an important consideration for pretty much any type of physical activity. Especially important are the everyday activities such as carrying bags or lifting children. Resistance training is a great method for improving core muscle strength. The positive effects can then be felt in many other areas of everyday life.

Reduce the risk of injury

Stronger muscles can help reduce the risk of injury, both in everyday life and during sports and other physical activities.

It’s complementary

Resistance training complements other types of fitness. When you improve your muscular fitness, you can enjoy better sports performance. More powerful, stronger muscles can help you to run faster, and jump higher!

Basic weight training guidelines and precautions

Overall, weight training can be considered an important addition to almost any training plan. With a sensible approach, the benefits can be enjoyed by exercisers of any age or fitness level.  General weight lifting guidelines and precautions include the following:

  • Design your weight training program with your goals and training experience in mind. Variables to consider include reps, sets, load, frequency of workouts, intensity, workout length, work to rest ratio, and training style.
  • Longer and more frequent training sessions are not necessarily better. Sufficient rest needs to be included, based on what else you’re doing in the rest of your training program, your experience, goals, and health status.
  • Always complete an appropriate warm-up before your weight training workout
  • A focus on compound movements can help you get more out of your workouts over a shorter period of time
  • You may not need to wear shoes for bodyweight workouts. However, for safety reasons, make sure you are wearing closed-toe shoes for your weight training sessions
  • Breathe continuously while you are lifting weights
  • If you’re new to weight training, start light, and gradually build up as the strength of your muscles, tendons, and ligaments increases
  • Focus on optimal technique and alignment, and controlled movements. Increase your weights, as long as you can still maintain the correct form throughout the exercises
  • Listen to your body before, after, and in between workouts. You may need to tweak your approach based on how your body is responding to your workouts

If you have high blood pressure, or any other medical concern or injury, check with your doctor first before starting a weights training program. It’s also important to share this information with your trainer. They may still include weight training in your program, but your program will likely be modified with lighter loads. Some weight training exercises such as overhead lifts might also be avoided.

We recommend the guidance of a qualified fitness industry professional when it comes to designing a safe, balanced, and effective weight training program. Our at-home (or “anywhere”) personal trainers can tailor your fitness plan, including your weight training program, to fit your needs, goals, and preferences. Get in touch to find out more about how we can get you set up with a plan that’s just right for you.

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