with all the classes and cardio we try to jam in to our daily lives, it’s easy to forget about (/ignore) the importance of a good, old-fashioned, sweaty gym sesh… however, in honor of this week’s PN shoot at Green Valley with Kadie, it seemed appropriate to take a moment and highlight the incredible physical benefits of doing time on the weight bench every now and again.So, if you’re one of the many people who hits the gym frequently, but never takes the time to go pump iron, here are a few reasons for why you should maybe reconsider:
1. Intense weight sessions burn calories AND boost up your metabolism, so when lifting hard and heavy, you’re burning calories at the time, and also putting your body in a position to continuously burn through more later.
2. Additionally, lifting can decrease the natural decline in your metabolism, which generally starts around age 30. So, if you feel like your metabolism is starting to function a little less efficiently than it did when you were 18, some sweaty gym time might just be the cure.
3. BONE STRENGTH – a huge issue for all of us, although one we’re less likely to pay attention to, since it’s not something that shows outwardly… but weight training helps to strengthen your bones and increase bone density, which will significantly decrease your risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
4. Cardiovascular benefits… yes, lifting can count as some cardio. Two birds, one stone. Depending on the weight and intensity, lifting can definitely help get the heart pumping, which has great fitness benefits, but also works to keep your heart, and therefore you, active and healthy.
5. Finally, lifting regularly significantly helps in the reduction of body fat. Obviously, it works to keep you strong and to build muscle, but as that lean muscle mass increases, it turns around and helps your body burn the excess fat. So you’re getting more fit AND more lean… no complaints there, right?
alright, so now that you’re sold on lifting… how? Here are a few tips for maximally efficient time in the weight room:
1. Lift heavy. If you’re not there yet, that’s fine, work towards it. Ladies, don’t avoid heavy weights for fear of getting “unnecessarily bulky” – one, your body doesn’t have the testosterone levels, or take in the calories needed for that, and two, the amount of tiny tears created in your muscles while lifting heavier weights are actually going to be what work to burn more calories after you’re finished lifting. Check this article out for more information on what you should be lifting. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself… that’s half the fun!
2. Change it up – we’ve all heard someone say, “oh man, yesterday was shoulder day, and it was rough,” or something along those lines… but the idea of dividing up certain muscle groups for different gym sessions is actually a really helpful one. Even if you don’t go every day, it’s important to focus on working different muscle groups in each workout, so that you get a fully balanced improvement, but also so that you give the muscles you’re working the proper amount of time to grow and recover.
3. Train with something. Fitness buddies are the best buddies – this way, you have someone to encourage and support you, correct you on your form, and maybe go eat ice cream with afterwards (I mean, hey, if your metabolism is already sped up from all your lifting, why not… right?)
4. Finally, here’s a quick breakdown on what exactly a balanced weight training session looks like: start with some strength training, which means a moderate load with moderate repetitions – whatever muscle group you’re working, if you keep it around 8 reps, and with a comfortable (not easy) load, this is going to help you build the strength endurance you’re looking for. After that, if your goal is to build muscle size, you’re going to want to graduate to lots of different workouts for the same muscle group, all at a manageably hard load, but with moderate reps (6-ish). If your goal is not necessarily huge muscles, but more maximum strength, you’ll get there by doing heavy loads and low reps, so find a weight that really, truly challenges you, and lift it for 1-5 reps, with a longer rest period. If you’re still feeling up for some more work after that, aim for just a little bit of power training to balance it all out, which is simply a light-load exercise, performed as quickly as possible. So things like squat jumps, soccer throws, even medicine ball chest presses… these will help you build up speed and power, to balance out all of the muscle work you just did. And, as always, finish up with some yoga moves, to give your wonderful muscles a break and some much-needed love.