Spoiler alert: exercise is good for you. Old news, I know. But a lot of people stay in their own lane and stick to the basketball court, treadmill, mountain bike, or running track without exploring other avenues to get their blood pumping. Any workout is better than no workout, but you’re missing out on seriously awesome physiological benefits when you skip the weights. Weightlifting exercises are beneficial for everyone, whether you’re a proud member of the #FitFam, a marathon regular, or a first-time exerciser.

Here’s why you should consider picking heavy things up and putting them down, plus tips to make the most of your workout routine.

The Benefits of Weightlifting Exercises

It isn’t just good for #gains—there are whole-body benefits to adding weights to your exercise program. Here are a bunch:

  • Higher endurance. Stronger muscles, joints, and bones lead to better performance in other areas, too, including cardiovascular fitness.
  • Decreased blood pressure. Though the act of exercise can immediately increase blood pressure, it lowers blood pressure over the long-term.
  • Better sleep. Since weightlifting lowers blood pressure, it makes falling asleep easier—so long as you’re not working out too close to bedtime.
  • Sound heart health. Even an hour of weightlifting exercises a week offers heart-health benefits.
  • More definition. “Defined muscles” does not equal “big muscles.” With the right workout, definition can be slimming.
  • Better balance + improved posture. Increasing the strength of core, back, and lower body muscles lends to a firmer grasp on gravity, plus better posture while at rest.
  • Fat loss. Many people are disappointed to find they’ve *gained* weight after a few months of weightlifting exercises. Don’t fret—pound-for-pound, fat weighs about 20% less than muscle, which is denser.
  • Improves mood. Every form of exercise triggers your brain to release endorphins, the feel-good chemical.
  • Builds confidence. When you feel great, it shows.
  • Makes you smarter. There are multiple brain benefits to working out, like reducing stress hormones, which inhibit brain activity.

Cardio’s dangerous—which is why I stick with weightlifting.

The Pre-Pre-Workout

Before you begin weightlifting, there are lifestyle habits you can incorporate to enhance your workout experience—and increase your motivation to start in the first place. Eating a healthy, low-glycemic diet increases energy levels. Targeted nutrition, like a premium joint-support supplement, can go the extra mile to fill in diet gaps and offer additional body benefits. Consistent, quality sleep affects virtually every element of health, so ensure you’re getting enough zzz’s and not staying out late on the weekends.*

Pre-Workout & Warmup

Before engaging in any weightlifting exercises, you’ll want the right kind of fuel. Eat complex carbs 30 minutes to one hour beforehand—and hold off on protein and healthy fats, as they’ll weigh you down. Your mileage may vary, but I personally avoid pre-workout powders. They make my nose itch and absolutely ruin my sleep schedule if taken any later than midmorning. An apple goes a long way at the gym.

There’s a right way to warm up before working out, prepping your body and brain for what’s to come. The right kind of music can be clutch for amping up, too. Aim for tracks anywhere between 120–180 BPM (beats per minute).

@floridagridleagueGive us a follow if you liked Roran Scott’s performance. ##gridleague ##snatch ##beast ##strongfemales ##weightlifting♬ Strong Woman – DJ Chris Parker

You don’t need to hulk out like Roran Scott during your weightlifting exercises.

Mid-Workout

There are a ton of fitness programs out there for every kind of exerciser, and whole blogs are dedicated to the topic. Here are quick tips to keep in mind during your routine:

  • Push your body—but not too much. Overexertion is the easiest way to sustain a gym injury, but don’t be afraid to go a little heavy on the dumbbell workouts. Again, defined muscles look good on any body.
  • Ask for help. Hire a fitness coach, pair up with an accountability buddy, or ask a fellow gymgoer to be a “spotter” (someone who helps if you can’t quite finish the set).
  • Take regular breaks to rehydrate. The science is out on drinking amino acids (BCAAs), but some studies point to perceived reduction in fatigue and potentially enhanced performance in prolonged aerobic exercises. When in doubt, reach for water.
  • Tune in to good tunes. Music is an incredibly powerful tool to impact your workout. Reserve the highest BPM songs for the toughest part of your circuit.
  • Find your “why.” When your drive falters, remind yourself why you go to the gym. Maybe it’s to keep up with kids or grandkids, to compete in an upcoming race, or simply to live in good health.
@roadieaustinThis is for sure one of my favorite ideas so far! What’s the most creative shot idea you can think of?! ##tricks ##nextlevel ##win ##dumbbell ##foryou♬ Cradles – Sub Urban

Dumbbell workouts, shmumbell shmorkouts.

Post-Workout & Cooldown

Congratulations—the hard part’s done. As your weightlifting exercises come to a close, walk it off. Your heart rate will lower, the sweating will slow down. Within an hour of weightlifting, treat yourself to a post-workout treat. Listen to your body over the next few days. You shouldn’t reengage the same muscle group if it’s still sore.

A post-workout protein shake helps with muscle recovery.

I hope you find value mixing up your workout routine with weightlifting exercises. Now, get out there and pump some iron!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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