For many people, weight training is their fundamental means of working out. With such a variety of options, machines, and intensities to this variety of exercise, it is an excellent choice for everyone, from beginners to professional bodybuilders. Weight training, also commonly known as strength training, is intended to increase strength in key muscle groups that are targeted in the lifting or moving of weights. People who are lifting weights rely on the force of gravity to cause resistance, forcing the muscles to perform either concentric or eccentric contraction.
Whether you are using dumbbells, weight bars, or weight stacks (typically in machines at the gym), you are engaging in weight training. The convenience of this exercise, combined with its flexibility (in terms of differing weights and targeted muscle groups, makes it a favorite for people around the world.
Weight Training Benefits for Weight Loss
Many people use weight training to lose weight, as it has a number of specific benefits for shedding extra pounds, such as increased metabolism, more lean muscle mass, and calorie burning, among others.
One of the primary benefits of weight training is that it will increase your metabolism, due to the increase in muscle. The energy requirements for muscle is greater than that of fat, so if you have more muscles, your body will need to burn more calories (e.g., have a faster metabolism) to maintain those muscle tissues. An increase in lean muscles is inevitable with weight training, whereas with cardio exercises, the benefit is more focused on burning calories and increasing the heart rate.
Although the focus of weight training is in the development of muscles, you will still burn calories while performing these exercises. Furthermore, the intensity of these exercises is often greater than the consistent exertion of a cardio workout, which can generate more concentrated calorie burning during your weight-training session.
Relief from Depression
Weight training has been directly linked to improvements in mood and stress hormone levels in the body. This can impact things like depression and chronic anxiety, both of which are linked to poor dietary habits and obesity. By boosting your mood, you are able to maintain a healthier diet and achieve your weight loss goals.
Benefits of Weight Training & Strength Training
There are quite a few benefits to strength training, aside from the effects it can have on weight loss, such as strengthening the bones, improving balance, and soothing inflammation.
When you lift a weight, it causes strain on the muscles, which stimulates the growth of more muscle tissues, but it can also put stress on the bones, signaling the body to increase bone mineral density, which can lower your risk of osteoporosis and age-related bone disorders.
Boosts Heart Health
Research has found that regular weight training can increase blood flow and reduce blood pressure, often up to 20% in those who work out regularly. This is excellent news for those at high risk for heart attacks and strokes and can help people prevent hypertension without requiring pharmaceutical drugs.
A key part of diabetes prevention is regular exercise, in addition to dietary and lifestyle changes. By regularly integrating weight training into your workout regimen, you can significantly reduce your risk of this chronic disease.
Weight training is an excellent way to engage multiple muscle groups, including those in your core, back, and legs. These muscles are critical to maintaining balance and flexibility, which is increasingly important as you age.
Weight Training for Beginners
If you are just starting out with weight training, there are a few basic weight training exercises that can ease you into a full workout regimen, including bicep curls, butterflies, and leg press, among others.
Lie on your back on a weight bench, with your choice of weights in hand. Extend your arms out to each side and then raise the dumbbells over your head, keeping your arms as straight as possible, until the dumbbells meet. Slowly lower them and repeat the procedure.
Stand up straight with dumbbells in your hands at your side, palms facing away from you. Now, without moving your elbows, curl the weights up towards your shoulders. You can alternate arms or perform these curls at the same time, maintaining your balance throughout while trying to keep your back straight and your elbows locked.
With a weight bar over the back of your shoulders, and weight rings on either end, position your legs about shoulder-width apart. Now, squat slowly, keeping your back as straight as possible, and then straighten up; this can strengthen your quadriceps, gluteal muscles, and your knee joints.
Weight Training at Home
Many people don’t enjoy going to the gym, but fortunately, weight training is something that is easy to practice at home, provided you have the right equipment. A good place to start is a graduated set of weight, perhaps the range of 5, 10, 15 and 20 pounds, as well as a weight bar with 1-2 different weight rings. This will provide the basic tools you need to start your weight training. With this equipment alone, you can easily work out your arms, shoulders, back, abdominals, buttocks, and legs, without having to join a gym or using any particular fancy equipment.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
While weight training is highly effective, it is also easy to make basic mistakes that can compromise the quality of your workout, or increase your risk of injury. Some of the most critical mistakes to avoid include pushing yourself too hard, not allowing time for recovery, avoiding variation, and designing an imbalanced weight training program, among others.
Recovery Time – After an intense weight training session, you need to give your body proper time to rest and recover. Your weekly maximum for this type of exercise is 4-5 workouts.
Intensity – Seeing results is obviously the goal, but if you choose to push yourself too hard, too soon, then you can do serious damage to your body.
Variation – Doing the same exercises every day can be bad for the body, and won’t represent a complete workout program. It ignores certain parts of your health and fitness. Be sure to vary your weight training exercises often.
Ignoring Injuries – Some people feel an intense strain on their muscles, but simply “push through the pain”. While this can be good for getting a great workout, ignoring potential injuries before, during, or after weight training sessions is very unwise.
Warm-ups – Before any workout, you should warm up your muscles and prepare the body for exercise. This is particularly true for weight training, or else your risk of muscle strains, tears, and soreness is much higher.