Whether you lift weights for mass muscle gain, overall strength as part of a wider routine or for a functional purpose, weight lifting has many benefits that you might not be aware of.
First of all, lifting weights can help you to develop functional strength that can help in other sporting or manual endeavours. This may seem an obvious one – the stronger your arms are, the more weight you can lift. Sure, but how often do you put this to functional use. The average bodybuilder may have a gym body – that is, a lot of muscle that looks good but does not actually serve many purposes in the real world.
It is common for athletes to lift weights to enhance their sporting abilities. For example, a footballer will benefit from strong thighs and hamstrings, therefore, isolated focus on developing these muscles will see more strength in their boots. This same logic may be applied to manual labour and often-used movements in day-to-day life. Think about it: got a weekly stock order in a shop? Routine deadlifting will help you make light work of that.
Second on our list of benefits is one you might not associate with lifting weights. Did you know it improves your cardiovascular health? Resistance training has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol, raise HDL cholesterol and increase your VO2 max. You’d be among many who assumed only aerobic exercise was good for a healthy heart.
Further to this, weight lifting increases your heart rate in a way you perhaps also associated with aerobic activity. If you’re one for ending a set with some high rep sets then you’re likely getting more heart health benefits than you realised.
Third, but highly important is how lifting weights keeps your joints healthy. There is a common misconception that the stress on your joints due to heavy weights and high intensity repeated strain causes joints to deteriorate, however, it has been proven that regular weight lifting results in a reduction of pain and stiffness. Compression clothing and straps for your joints are recommended for lifting heavy weights to promote blood flow to the active joints.
Arguably the most important on our list is how your mental health can benefit from regular weight training. Weight lifting is an effective way to relieve stress and, with a programme in place, can provide you with a goal and obvious health benefits that can help with depression and anxiety – not to mention the social aspect for those who work out at a club or gym.
The lesser known but probably best on the list is the fact that weight lifting increases your libido. This isn’t due to eyeing up other gym members in their lycra, but the increase in the production of natural sex hormones through regular lifting – a definite perk of resistance training.