Guys approach lifting weights for many different reasons. Aesthetics inspire some while others seek to boost sports performance or simply counteract a sedentary lifestyle. Certainly all of us want to minimize the potential for injury and long-term deterioration as we get older.
Lifting weight is effective for all of those goals and more. But even savvy gym rats don’t always realize all of the many benefits—and repercussions—of hitting the iron. Read on for 20 things you may not know about strength training.
Lifting, especially multi-joint movements like squats and lunges, counteracts the effects of spending long hours hunched over a computer or behind a steering wheel. By opening up the hip flexors, you’ll be less likely to develop back problems.
Lifting is most effective when done continuously rather than resting between sets. Perform a pushing exercise, such as a bench press and follow it immediately with a pulling exercise, such as a dumbbell row. When one set of muscles is working, the other set is resting.
Lifting boosts metabolism, especially your resting metabolic rate. Translation: you continue to burn calories at a high rate throughout the course of the day and even while you sleep. Combine this with a clean diet and you’ll experience dramatic results.
Lifting helps prevent osteoporosis. We lose muscle and bone mass as we age and that’s especially true for women, who are more prone to the condition. Strength training forces the muscles to adapt by becoming bigger and stronger. Since your bones are the framework that supports those muscles, they’ll become stronger, too.
That’s because strength training boosts blood flow and decreases blood pressure. Studies of seniors consistently have shown that those with more muscle mass are less likely to die of heart disease.
It’s impossible for women to get “too bulky” from lifting. Even with the popularity of CrossFit, many women still shy away from heavy weights in the gym. Unless a woman turns to testosterone, she won’t obtain a bodybuilder look. To get the toned physique she wants, however, she needs to lift challenging weights.
Women have some advantages over men when it comes to lifting. For one thing, their muscles recover faster. That’s because they regenerate ATP, the chemical that provides the energy for muscle movement, faster than guys do.
Lifting will increase your lean body mass, which is the key to a healthy physique. After the age of 25, we lose a pound of lean body mass each year unless we do something about it. For each pound of extra lean body mass you have, you burn an extra 50 calories a day.
Even though lifting is not aerobic exercise, you can get some aerobic benefit from the workout since your heart rate increases and never falls below a certain aerobic zone. This, of course, only occurs if you hammer continuously through a circuit and don’t take minutes between sets checking your phone.
A bodyweight workout of just push-ups, dips and Burpees can be as tough as anything with iron.
About 65 percent of injuries come from overuse—repetitive use of joints rendered dysfunctional by muscle imbalances. While lifting with improper form can cause injuries, lifting to strengthen the shoulders, lower back, and hips helps prevent injuries.
Lifting lighter weights for many reps can be just as effective for building muscle and strength as heavy weights for fewer reps. The key is to lift to the point of fatigue.
Lifting can improve flexibility. Though the stereotype of the bodybuilder who can’t touch his toes is well founded, lifting can improve flexibility. The key is to go through a full range of motion at the hips, midsection, and shoulders with each exercise.
Lifting improves a guy’s sex life and not just because of his chiseled physique. Weight lifting causes the body to produce testosterone, which has no small influence on sex life. Plus, lifting produces greater stamina and strength, two things that come in handy in bed.
Lifting for muscle does not always mean more strength and power. There is a misconception that in order to become powerful you need larger muscles or more weight. Instead, lift for more power. If a 175-pound athlete drops to 160 pounds but maintains the same power and strength, his relative power has skyrocketed.
Lifting is only one way to build strength and power. Consider that at the NFL scouting combine, the only lift football players perform is the max 225-pound bench press. Some of the biggest, most explosive athletes in sports spend far more time on speed, quickness, agility, and movement skills.