Strength training is a key component of overall health and fitness, and it provides an important balance to aerobic workouts. Having muscles is essential to succeed in life. A firm body grounds you to the earth so you can feel a sense of your body. With this awareness, you feel greater connection to your essence as a person. And having muscles allows you to move with ease and efficiency and to do what you need to do to function physically in the world.
Unless you’re a natural athlete and engage in vigorous sports routinely, the best way to get muscles is to do weight lifting or strength training.
Here are 10 reasons to include weights into your fitness repertoire. There are plenty, so here are just some.
- Preserves muscle mass. While muscle mass diminishes with age, you can counteract this effect through strength training. The percentage of fat on your body increases, as you get older if you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you lose. Strength training helps preserve and enhance your muscle mass, regardless of your age.
- Longer life. As we get older, we lose muscle mass. We don’t stand up as straight, fall more easily, get more easily fatigued, and gain weight. As pumping iron builds muscle mass, lifting weights helps you live longer.
- Quick noticeable results. Losing weight and becoming more firm happens sooner in weight lifting than in other sports. Seeing quick results motivates you to continue your workout.
- Protects bones. Weight-bearing exercise increases bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. This means less chances of falling and incurring fractures and breaks, particularly among older adults.
- Makes you happier. There is just something about picking weight ups and lifting! Strength training is physically rigorous and this balances your neurotransmitters to greatly reduce anxiety and depression, as well as improving self-esteem. Don’t be surprised if you also find that you think more clearly.
- Lose weight. Having mores muscle on your frame increases metabolism and you burn more calories, even when sitting still. This means you can more easily lose and maintain your weight.
- Better sleep. Those who do exercise that involves “heavy work” – strong resistance into the muscles and joints (called “proprioception”) report better sleep.
- Takes little time. Weight training can usually be done in as little as 30 minutes at the gym and you don’t need to do it more than 2-3 times a week.
- You can use different equipment. Sure you can go to the gym and lift weights but anything that involves strength and resistance will build muscles, including resistance bands, kettle bells, machines, ect. What about “wearing” an infant? LOL, that counts too!
- Heart healthy. Strength training lowers blood pressure and The American Heart Association recommends that adults do at least two strength training sessions a week.
Many women miss out on the benefits of strength training out of fear of developing bulging muscles. This is a misperception. Our high levels of estrogen make it very difficult for us women to become overly muscular or “bulky.” When women lift weights, the changes to your muscles are generally related to tone, strength, and endurance rather than size. As a result, you look is firm, feminine toned–not bulky masculine muscles. Don’t be afraid to life weights. Free weights and kettle-bells is probably my favorite. I love doing cross-fit or TRX too.
For an effective workout at the gym, select a weight or resistance level that fatigues your muscles after eight to 12 repetitions. Lift heavy, not too heavy, but it should weigh more then your purse! LOL! I do about 3-4 sets of repetitions. You will find yourself getting stronger and stronger. Be consistent. I lift about 3-4 days a week. I group muscles together. Triceps/Biceps, Back/shoulders, and Legs (split up into 2 days usually.) Find what works for you. My hubby is a personal trainer, however one of my favorite place to go for workout ideas is bodybuilding.com. They have all sorts of plans to follow so you really make it count every time you’re at the gym.
Sometimes I workout at home, if I have sick babies, or just didn’t make it to the gym the daycare was available. I usually just do some type of HIIT with a little bit of weights added. Using your own body weight is considered strength training too. I have even gone to the park with my kids, done some pull ups on the monkey bars and lunges on the stairs.
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