Weight bearing exercise is important. This is true for a variety of reasons. First, muscle is more metabolically active than fat and other body tissue. If you are trying to slim down, then building muscle will quickly help you on your way. While all of that extra fat just hangs around making you look dumpy, muscle actually burns a good chunk of calories regardless of your activity level throughout the day. Weight training is also a great way to increase bone density. All of that pulling and tugging on your bones helps to strengthen them and stave off such maladies as osteoporosis. That being said, I am the first to admit that weight training has not always been a part of my to-do list. Although I have lightheartedly tossed around a few weights in the past, I have never had a very serious routine. For this reason, I have never seen a lot of serious progress. This past year I have finally decided to take the leap. I have recruited a trainer to develop a weight training plan and teach me the joys of lifting. Here are a few things I have learned along the way.
- Lifting is not really that bad – In fact, it is quite rewarding. Personally, I have found that cardio comes with an immediate feeling of accomplishment. It clears my head and relaxes my mind. Throughout a 3 mile run I can feel my lungs working, my heart pumping, and my muscles constantly moving. This is a feeling that I do not tend to have while lifting. Lifting is slow paced and it targets only a few muscles at a time. A lifting session is not about working your body from head to toe. It is about working a particular set of muscles with intention and focus. Although the muscles become exhausted during the actual workout, the feeling of accomplishment comes some time later. It is in the soreness that appears later in the day while you are attempting to walk up the stairs or load the dishwasher. That pain that reminds you of how hard you have worked in the gym. That pain that makes you anxious to get back in the weight room because, despite the difficulty it creates as you attempt to roll out of bed in the morning, it is evidence that you are making progress.
- Lifting is the best way to change your shape – We often toss around terms such as apple and pear. Terms which make reference to the location of our body fat. When it comes to reshaping our bodies, few can dispute the importance of weight training. Proper diet and exercise will eventually help you lose weight, but weight training builds lean muscle and creates the toned, fit appearance most of us are hoping for. In other words, if you want to be a smaller apple, do cardio. If you want to change your shape, lift weights.
- Buddy up – I used to be a solo lifter. My goal was to get in and get out. I wasn’t a fan of the process, so I didn’t want it to take too much time. As of late I have had a change in heart. A workout tends to change when you stop rushing through it and instead take the time to enjoy it. Lifting with a buddy helps to keep you on track. It also allows you to push yourself further, as your “buddy” can be used as a spotter. This might seem like common sense to most weight lifters, but to those of us who have never been very serious in the weight room, it is a new anomaly.
In a nutshell, weight training is important. Lifting is not really that bad, it is the best way to change your shape, and it works best with a buddy. If you are looking to seriously improve your health and wellness, then weight training should be a part of your agenda. We tend to lose muscle as we age, therefore it is important to be proactive. The best way to counteract muscle loss is to hit the weights. If you have yet to venture into the weight room, then I encourage you to give it a shot. It might just be the piece of the puzzle that you have been searching for.