Don’t get me wrong, running and cardio have their place in a well-balanced fitness regimen—especially if you participate in endurance sports. I’m a big fan of the concept that any movement is better than no movement at all. But if we’re talking straight up fat loss and fitness hierarchy, lifting weights is your number one priority as it’ll give you the most bang for your buck.
If you’ve been contemplating whether or not to venture into the weight room, here are five reasons why you should get started now.
1. Muscles rev up your metabolism Lifting weights regularly promotes the growth of lean muscle mass, which is an integral part of any fat loss journey. Put simply, muscle helps cultivate a healthier metabolism because the more muscle your body has, the more calories it will burn at rest. In addition to increasing metabolism, lifting weights promotes natural growth hormone production, which in turn helps reduce insulin sensitivity. Essentially, lifting weights will help turn your body into a fat loss machine—making the weight room one of the most important stops on your fitness journey.
Women often worry about being “bulky” or “too muscular,” so let me go ahead and allay those fears: lifting weights won’t turn you into She-Hulk overnight (although I would argue that She-Hulk is pretty much the best Super Heroine ever!). You’ll build muscle, yes, but you won’t pack it on in absurd amounts; women simply do not have the testosterone necessary to support that kind of muscle growth. Instead, you’ll build a strong, athletic, lean physique—provided that your nutrition is on par with your fitness intentions.
2. Setting personal records keeps you motivated Every time I go to the gym, I get better. I lift heavier, or faster, or even more efficiently. Regardless of the exactitudes, I find myself improving in some way, shape or form—which keeps me coming back for more.
A personal record, or PR, is something that you hear a lot about it the world of strength. When you “hit a PR” it means you’ve surpassed your previous record—whether it’s the weight you can squat or deadlift, or the number of chin-ups you can do. Essentially, it’s a sign of improvement and oftentimes a source of immense pride.
Breaking records, or setting PRs, is incredibly mentally rewarding. It keeps you coming back for more, and creates a sense of purpose in the weight room. While aesthetic goals, such as losing a few inches on your waist, are certainly worth pursuing, performance goals are notably more sustainable.
3. Being strong makes everything else easier Moving furniture? Carrying multiple bags of groceries? Hoisting a heavy carry-on into an overhead compartment? None of these things are a problem when you’ve got strength on your side.
When my son was in kindergarten, I visited his class to speak about the importance of exercise and proper nutrition. I’ll never forget what a kindergartener named Lizzie said when I asked the class why exercise was important: “Because it makes everything easier.” And she couldn’t have been more right. Exercising to be strong, mobile, and fast makes every day tasks less cumbersome.
4. Strength is a potent confidence booster The first time I performed an unassisted pull-up, I was astounded. I looked around the gym and wondered, “Did anyone see that?!” I simply couldn’t believe that I had been capable of such a feat. While I was incredibly excited at my performance, what I didn’t realize was how much that one act would affect the rest of my life.
What it came down to was this: If I can pull myself up over a bar, without any assistance, what else can I do? Feats of strength in the gym began to translate to strength outside of the gym—the intrinsic strength needed to thrive and excel. When I crushed it at the gym, I felt more capable of crushing it at life.
Lifting weights helps boost confidence like nothing else I have ever seen. I’ve helped timid, overweight, stay-at-home moms go on to crush feats of strength and then start their own personal businesses. I’ve seen beginners afraid of lifting a kettlebell move on to chasing a double bodyweight deadlift, while breaking out of their comfort zones. Physical strength contributes to strength of character, which in turn boosts confidence—and there’s just no downside to that.
5. Weight lifting is efficient As a busy mom and entrepreneur, I deeply understand time is precious time. It’s our only non-renewable resource, and we have to use it wisely, especially when we’ve got multiple commitments and obligations. So, while I truly enjoy exercising and do so as often as possible, I understand that sometimes my time is extremely limited—I wont always have an hour or more to dedicate to exercise.
The good news is that lifting weights saves you time because it’s incredibly efficient. You can even speed up the rate at which you lift or ramp up the intensity in order to simultaneously gain strength and lose fat (check out the Fast Fitness! series to learn more). Which means you don’t have to spend an hour doing cardio, and another 30 minutes on the pre-loaded machines. You can save time and attack your fitness goals, all by choosing the weight room instead of other areas in the gym.
“I don’t have time to exercise” will be a statement you never utter again, because the time it takes to get in a great lift session can be as little as 15 to 20 minutes. Prioritizing weights ensures that you’ll make time for fitness no matter how busy life gets. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of setting a timer for how much time you do have, and then doing as much as possible in that time frame.
READY TO GET STARTED?
Now that you know why you should add weight lifting into your life, it’s time to learn how. Don’t worry if you’re a little unsure. I know it can be confusing, trust me. As a fitness professional I’ve seen it all, and I completely understand why so many people are intimidated by the weight room.
It’s foreign territory, and just figuring out where to begin can be a daunting task. In fact, the fear and anxiety of venturing into the unknown is a common reason why many exercisers avoid the weight room to begin with. Luckily, when you get down to the basics, lifting weights can really be quite simple. You can strip it down to the bare essentials and not only demystify the process, but make it incredibly effective and efficient as well.
Rather than mess about with all kinds of complicated exercises or strange looking machines, try something more straightforward, like kettlebells or dumbbells.
Keep it simple, and don’t underestimate the effectiveness of basic exercises. My Kettlebells 101: The Best Workout for Beginners article has a great set of moves for weight lifting newbies.
While venturing into the weight room may initially take you out of your comfort zone, you’ll soon get the hang of it and forget why you ever avoided it in the first place. Lifting weights is incredibly rewarding and sustainable, and will help you further cultivate the fit, healthy lifestyle you crave. Remember to keep it simple, keep it safe, and, most of all, keep it fun!
Do you feel intimidated by the weight room? Think you’ll head in there now? Share your thoughts in the comments below!