When we think of weightlifting, we often picture jacked, grunting young men on the weight floor in the gym.
While weightlifting is a popular exercise for young men, it’s also great for women and elderly people. Weightlifting, or resistance exercise, can come in many different forms and intensities.
Anyone can enjoy the benefits of weightlifting without lifting hundreds of pounds of weight and without feeling any pressure to get “ripped.”
If you’re looking to get into weightlifting but find yourself asking, “is weightlifting healthy?” Then worry no more! We’re going to cover all the basics of weightlifting, as well as it’s benefits, types, and how to get started.
Keep reading to learn more!
Is Weightlifting Healthy?
The short answer is yes, weightlifting is very healthy for you.
Weightlifting offers so many benefits, both physically and mentally. Here are a few…
We all know that we burn calories as we exercise, but what if you could burn them while you’re resting?
Well, when you exercise regularly, you can. Weightlifting decreases the amount of fat in your body and replaces it with muscle. Because of this, your body burns more calories when you’re resting.
This leads to a boosted metabolism, which makes keeping weight off much easier.
Control Bone Loss
As we get older, we naturally lose bone density.
While you naturally start to lose some bone density with age, you can lessen the amount with strength training. The decrease in bone density can be a result of poor nutrition, inactivity, or lack of strength training.
If your bones aren’t being used enough, they will start to lose mass as you age. As your bones lose mass, they become weak and brittle. When your bones are weak you are much more likely to experience a break or a fracture.
While strength training can cause stress to the bones, it does so in a good way. It stresses them enough to gain muscle. Because strength-training injuries are more likely in older people, it’s important to start small and work your way up to heavier weights.
When we think of heart health, many of us think of cardiovascular exercise like running, walking, or biking.
While it’s great to have some cardio in your exercise routine, strength training is also helpful for heart health. We all know that cardiovascular exercise gets our heart rate up, but strength training can cause the same reaction.
When you push your heart rate a bit, it’s strengthening your heart which will decrease your risk of a heart attack. Your body becomes better at transporting oxygen when you lift weights, so your heart becomes stronger as a result.
When you exercise your body releases the “happy chemical” AKA serotonin.
This naturally boosts your mood and reduces stress levels. Exercising is a great way to manage symptoms from anxiety or depression.
Not only does exercising boost your mood from the serotonin, but your confidence will grow from feeling good about your body!
Cardio is known to help you sleep because it relieves stress naturally.
While cardio helps you sleep better, strength training does too. You can sleep easier after strength training because your body needs time to rebuild the muscles that you were working on.
Plus, lifting weights can also relieve stress, helping you fall asleep more easily.
Better Brain Function
We all know that practicing memory exercises and reading can boost brain function, but did you know that exercise can too?
Strength training can boost brain function, especially in older adults. When you exercise you’re building proteins in your brain that contribute to your memory. Lifting weights is going to keep your mind sharp as you get older and start to be more forgetful.
What Types of Strength Training Can You Do?
When it comes to weightlifting or strength training, you have tons of options.
Here are a few of them…
Use of Free Weights
Free weights are a popular form of strength training for many people, especially those without fancy gym equipment.
Many people don’t realize that there are tons of benefits to using free weights over resistance training machines at the gym. These benefits include…
Since free weights give you the freedom to move how your body naturally should, they improve your functionality in all types of exercise.
For example, lifting free weights increases your balance. When you squat, lunge, deadlift, or lift weights with your arms, you have to balance while performing the movement.
In traditional machines at the gym, the machine is keeping you in place, which leaves you to only focus on the resistance movement. Increasing your balance through weightlifting makes other forms of exercise such as running, biking, and yoga easier.
When your body is forced to balance and maintain a form, this is actually boosting your workout.
Needing to balance alongside lifting weights works every muscle in your body. Balance is especially good for your core.
So, rather than spending hours at the gym bouncing from machine to machine, you can feel confident that free weights are working your whole body.
More Calories Are Being Burned
Not only does working your entire body save you time, but it also burns more calories.
The more muscles you’re working in one exercise, the more calories you’re going to be burning at the same time. Plus, you can perform compound exercises which really boost the number of calories you’re burning.
An example of a compound exercise is a squat with a fixed-weight barbell to an overhead push. This exercise works your thighs, glutes, calves, shoulders, and biceps. Not bad for one exercise, right?
Ankle Weights or Vests
If you’re trying to add a bit of weight to normal exercises, ankle weights or vests are great for this.
Also, if you’re just starting to workout, ankle weights and vests push your body a little farther without overworking it. Weighted squats and lunges can be harsh on the knees when you’re just starting out.
Adding an ankle weight or vest makes your body work a little bit harder while doing everyday activities. This will help you build muscle gradually without even realizing you’re working for it.
Resistance bands are a great way to build muscle if you don’t have access to all kinds of gym equipment.
Not only are resistance bands affordable and easy to get, but they don’t take up much space in your home. They can just be folded up and stored in a bin out of the way.
If you’re looking for a gentler resistance exercise because of sore knees and joints, resistance bands will be your best friend. Resistance bands are also really versatile and you can use them to work multiple muscles.
Now that you know what the benefits of strength training are and the different options, it’s time to get started!
When you start weightlifting, you’ll want to start very small at first.
Keep the weights low and the reps low as well. The more comfortable you get with the weight and reps you’re doing, the more you can start to think about increasing them.
If you try to jump right in and do a ton of weight, you risk injuring yourself. Not only will this get in the way of your weightlifting goals, but it may leave a bad taste in your mouth about that type of exercise.
Make a Plan with a Goal in Mind
When you decide that you want to start weightlifting, it’s incredibly helpful to have a goal in mind.
Without some type of goal to work towards, you may find yourself unmotivated when it gets difficult. Once you’ve decided on your goal, adjust your plan accordingly.
For example, if your goal is to squat 250 pounds, you’ll want to start with a small amount of weight and increase it each week. Increase slowly to avoid hurting yourself, but have a rough idea of the timeline you want to complete your goal in.
When you have a timeline, or a deadline, for your goal, it pushes you to work towards it. Once you’ve reached your goal, create a new one to push yourself even further!
While it can be easy to sit around and change your mind about your starting day, when it comes to exercise, it’s best to just start.
After you’ve done your research and understand how to lift safely, don’t procrastinate getting started. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll achieve your goal!
Weightlifting is Great for Your Body and Mind
While weightlifting can often get a reputation as a “young-person activity,” this is actually very far from the truth.
No matter your weight, your age, or your physical health, there is some type of resistance exercise that you can participate in. Not only can you do it, but the mental and physical benefits will make you glad that you did.
So, is weightlifting healthy? Yes, it 100% is!
If you loved reading this article, don’t forget to check out our other fitness articles.