Weight lifting. And I mean HEAVY weight lifting. This seems to make people nervous. They picture bulging veins, muscles spilling out of clothes, busted knees, and broken backs. Almost every time a woman expresses interest in lifting, she will almost always follow it with “but I don’t want to lift too heavy.” What is “too heavy”? 100 pounds? 300? And why not? If you can do it with good form, then it’s probably the appropriate weight for you to work with for results.
I find it funny how those who are against heavy lifting have usually never tried it for themselves. Or had a professionally certified and experienced weightlifting coach teach them how to do it properly. Weightlifting shares the multitude of benefits of regular exercise including improved sleep quality, improved mood, stress reduction, and lowered risk of heart disease just to name a few. Here's what you're in for if you decide to hit the iron.
- "TONE!" I put it in quotes because when women say they want to tone, it means they want to sculpt some muscle. Muscle is muscle is muscle. How and where you build muscle is unique to your genetic makeup. Want to create shapely legs? A perky butt? A flat abdomen? You better hit the weights.
- Increase your lean body mass (aka muscle) which means you burn more calories throughout the day.
- Build confidence around your abilities, and not your appearance. Think bench pressing 135 pounds is impossible? Dangerous? Imagine doing it and feeling amazing about it. Discover what you're capable of.
- Prevent injury and excel at what you love to do. Whether it's snowboarding, distance running, hiking, or dancing the night away on a Saturday night, weight training will help you do it well. Lifting weights builds strong muscles that support joints and will also improve coordination and balance.
- Build and support a strong, healthy back. Back pain sucks a lot.
- Learn how to control your body. As you learn to lift with the help of a coach, you'll learn about posture, how to prevent injury, mobility, stability, flexibility and everything else it takes to keep your body moving well and looking good.
- Age gracefully and independently. Did you know women in their 60s who break a hip are a whopping five times more likely to die within a year than women who don’t? Not only because of complications but also because of the inability to care for oneself. Want to get off the toilet without holding onto something? Then you should probably squat. Pick up your own groceries? Then you should learn to deadlift. Place that book on the top shelf? Overhead pressing should be a priority. What about grabbing your suitcase off a carousel at the airport? You get the picture. Somehow what is known as functional training in the fitness world is about as not functional as it gets (single-leg deadlifts to press on a BOSU ball...yes, seriously). If you want to be able to take care of yourself as you age and even now, you need to be strong.