There is a popular belief when it comes to working out that cardio is for burning fat while weight training is for building muscle. While this is true to some extent, it’s definitely not definitive and doesn’t mean you should avoid weight training because you’re afraid of ending up like The Hulk.
In fact, weight training can contribute to cardio workouts and is very important for building a lean, toned body — plus, it can provide an array of benefits to your overall health. Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why you should hit the weights the next time you’re at the gym:
You’ll be stronger
This may be an obvious one, but strength training helps build muscle, which in turns boosts your power, endurance and overall size. With stronger muscles, your body will be more capable of doing everyday tasks like lifting heavy objects or walking up stairs without getting sore; and you’ll enjoy feeling more active in general.
You’ll have stronger bones
As you age, you lose about 1 percent of bone and muscle mass every year. This can be avoided with strength training and will lead to less chance of bone fractures or developing osteoporosis later in life.
You’ll have better posture
In a previous article, we discussed the most common posture problems that people face and the best exercises for avoiding them. These include plenty of resistance and strength training workouts, which help tighten the muscles in your neck, shoulders, back and hips so they don’t slump or assume awkward positions. Stronger muscles will help preserve the spine, too, allowing you to stand up straight and look more confident.
You’ll have a fit and lean body
Contrary to popular opinion, it’s actually extremely difficult to build a big, bulky body. So ladies, relax — it won’t just happen overnight by lifting a few weights. What’s more likely to happen is you’ll see your body get more toned as your muscles become more defined and your body burns more fat. Combined with a low-calorie diet, you’re bound to see that six pack soon.
You’ll burn more calories
Say goodbye to the misconception that burning calories is all about spending hours on the treadmill or doing endless laps in the pool. Did you know that strength training can boost your calorie burn rate by 15 percent? This means that the more muscle mass you build through weight training, the more calories you’ll burn naturally even when you’re resting. Better yet, incorporate a bit of both cardio and weights into your workout for optimum results.
You’ll feel happier
Weight-training is a great way to boost your body’s release of endorphins, the neurotransmitters related to pleasure. Because of this, lifting weights has been shown to naturally improve your mood and reduce stress, anxiety and depression. You’ll also likely feel more active and alert, too, thanks to the extra energy boost.
You’ll have a healthier heart
Even though running and swimming are considered “cardio” workouts, they’re not the only exercises that are good for your heart. Research has shown that lifting weights and doing resistance exercises helps increase blood flow to the limbs and lowers diastolic blood pressure, all of which is great for cardiovascular health and can help reduce the risk of a stroke by up to 40 percent.
You’re less likely to get injured
Weight training not only strengthens your bones and muscles, it also strengthens your joints, ligaments and tendons. The more strength training you do, the more likely you’ll avoid injury while playing other sports. Plus, you’ll probably perform better in those other activities, too.
With all that in mind, it’s time to get started on weight training! Be sure to start slowly and give your body time to gradually build its strength. Try starting with beginner exercises like bicep curls, shoulder presses and squats, and be sure to use weights that aren’t too heavy. Also, always remember to give your muscles time to recover by working out on alternate days; otherwise you might end up injuring yourself.
Not sure where to start? Sign up with a personal trainer through Bodyscene today to get one-on-one guidance on how to ease in your weight training with help from a professional.