By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
A common question I receive from individuals wanting to lose weight or improve their health pertains to strength training or lifting weights. The term “lifting weights” can be associated with the stereotypical bodybuilder or gym buff. However, lifting weights is extremely beneficial if you incorporate it into your workout regimen, in addition to your aerobic exercise. The benefits of lifting weights are widespread and should be used by most people regardless of age, gender or race. Lifting weights is good for females and will not result in the development of “big” and “bulky” muscles. In fact, it may be even more important for females to lift weights because it can counter or help prevent the onset of osteoporosis. It has also been found to improve the muscle structure of your heart and improve the way your heart functions.
Increased muscle mass, higher metabolism
Lifting weights can help you increase your muscle mass and strength. If you build more muscle, you will need more calories to maintain that muscle mass. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be. For example, the magic caloric number ranges between 30-50. It is believed that your body requires 30-50 calories to maintain one pound of muscle. While that number is difficult to scientifically prove, it is still useful to know the caloric benefits of adding muscle mass.
Consistency is the key
Consistently lifting weights three or more days per week can prevent the loss of muscle tissue that can occur as we age, or if we suffer from a chronic illness. A progressive resistance-training program, in which you would gradually lift more weight as you naturally increase your strength, can significantly improve your overall health and can even improve your quality of life.
Research and lifting weights
Research has found lifting weights to be beneficial to individuals with chronic diseases. Below is a quick review of three different chronic diseases and how lifting weights can help.
Chronic Kidney Disease – a progressive weight-lifting program increased muscle mass, strength, and quality of life with these patients.
Obesity – Resistance training can prevent the loss of lean tissue and even reduce systemic inflammation (a common symptom with obesity) even if no weight has been lost.
Type II Diabetes – C-reactive protein levels (are indications of muscle/cardiac tissue damage or infection) were reduced after 12-months of lifting weights for 3 days per week.
Ask yourself, “Do I lift weights?” If the answer is no, begin immediately, start with a light weight, do not increase the weight until you are comfortable with the exercise and can complete the exercise safely throughout a full range of motion. If you find yourself struggling, remember, it is always best to ask for help from a trained professional instead of trying to figure it out yourself when beginning a resistance training/weight-lifting program.
*For examples of other variations/exercises look under Multimedia-VDF Exercise Tips
**Consult with a physician and/or medical healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen
Cheema BS, Chan D, Fahey P, Atlantis E. Effect of Progressive Resistance Training on Measures of Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy, Muscular Strength and Health-Related Quality of Life in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine. 2014. 44:8, 1125-1138
Mavros Y, Kay S, Simpson KA, et al. Reductions in C-reactive protein in older adults with type 2 diabetes are related to improvements in body composition following a randomized controlled trial of resistance training. J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle. 2014. 5(2): 111-120
Morra EA, Zaniqueli D, Rodrigues SL, El-Aouar L, Lunz W, Mill JG, Carletti L. Long-term intense resistance training in men is associated with preserved cardiac structure/function, decreased aortic stiffness, and lower central augmentation pressure. Journal of Hypertension. 2014. 32:(2) 286-293