Why You Should Lift: The Benefits of Weight Training

Updated on June 7, 2018
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Justin Titchenell is a student at Gettysburg College, where he competes on the football team and studies Organization and Management.

Benefits of Weightlifting

If it was known that an exercise could benefit your heart, strengthen your bones, and improve overall health, while making you look and feel better, most people would get started instantly. Studies have shown that strength training, also known as weight or resistance training, can provide all these benefits and more. This exercise specializes in the use of resistance to induce muscular contraction for the purpose of building strength, endurance, or size. It has become increasingly promoted for health reasons; however, the psychological benefits associated with strength training are indispensable. Strength training goes beyond building muscle in that it solidifies a sense of self-confidence and awareness, builds mental fortitude, and gives more opportunities to contribute to life.

The Physical Benefits

It is necessary to acknowledge that women generally do not engage in this form of exercise as they believe it will lead to a masculine appearance. If performed for the purpose of gaining strength and endurance, this notion is false. In the same way, some individuals deem strength training unnecessary as they claim that it is not essential for enhancing physical fitness. Although this may be true, strength training induces the most health benefits of any exercise. Above all it will increase muscular strength, size, and endurance. This will help the body be more neurologically efficient so more muscle fibers can be utilized to get stronger. As a result, the muscles will hypertrophy, or get bigger in size, to be able to lift heavier weights. The process of muscle growth starts when the body is put under stress in the form of weight resistance. When muscle fibers are broken down during these exercises, the body repairs itself by fixing the tears and overcompensating by adding bigger muscle cells to build a stronger fiber. The repeated process of tearing down and rebuilding muscle fibers will result in muscle strengthening and growth over time.

In the same way, exercise science research has established that strength training is helpful for weight loss as it speeds the resting metabolism, or the rate at which the body burns calories while at rest. A study published in the Obesity journal in November 2017 found that dieters who underwent strength related exercise lost nearly twenty pounds over an eighteen month period (Klein). Upon putting this into perspective, dieters who did not exercise lost a mere ten pounds while those who only did aerobic exercise lost sixteen pounds in the same time frame. In the same way, the efficiency of everyday activity is increased through strength training as it forces muscles to work more effectively. This can positively impact anyone as all tasks require some form of physical movement. These movements include sitting, standing, running, walking, lifting, pulling and other daily activities. Lifting weights can help anyone achieve proper execution of the complicated movements of daily life.

Physchological Benefits

Although this form of exercise is often used to enhance the body physically, it has been proven to induce psychological benefits. Most importantly, self-confidence is established through strength training. According to the Mayo Clinic, strength related exercise increases endorphin levels, or reward chemicals, in your brain. Before the development of modern technologies, individuals would receive these reward chemicals to run around for survival purposes. Now that moving around to such an extent is not essential for staying alive, it is necessary to get reward chemicals through exercise. The relaxation and calm sensations felt upon the completion of a workout can be attributed to endorphins. Feeling good and at peace on a regular basis will increase self confidence. Moreover, it is common to feel more self-sufficient from feeling physically stronger as not being dependent on others to complete physical tasks boosts self-confidence.

Strength training forces individuals to be honest and self aware. With the proper development of these attributes, expectations can be managed effectively. If you have poorly managed expectations, you may face more surprises, which can make life seem hectic. Moreover, a lack of control can lower your confidence and weaken your mental capacity. The ability to adapt to specific situations is key in laying the groundwork for mental fortitude. In the same way, life is full of obstacles and no one can control everything that comes their way. However, the development of mental fortitude makes it easier to control how you react to it. If you view a situation from the outside and try to see a different perspective, it becomes evident that it is difficult to see the true cause of an event when vision is blurred with immediate emotional responses. Individuals tend to react to occurrences immediately as they happen in a distinct manner, even if the context of the situation is not completely understood. Comprehension and understanding are key for properly reacting to life.

Through developing self confidence and awareness, individuals acquire mental fortitude. Having mental fortitude means remaining focused and determined despite facing adversity. Those who participate in strength training are posed with challenges every time they exercise. While in the gym, with sweat dripping and legs shaking after a particularly difficult set of squats, it is easy to let the mind convince itself to skip the next set. Skipping the last set will not matter, says the mind. Despite this insistence, in order to achieve personal goals, it is important to follow the strength program and skipping one set will only lead to skipping further sets in the future. The focus and determination used in the gym are easily transitioned to other walks of life. Whether it is a difficult situation in the office or a stressful ordeal at home, these attributes can be used to reach goals outside the gym.

Ability to Contribute to Other Aspects of Life

It is evident strength training gives individuals opportunities to contribute to other aspects of life as it enables people to transform into confident, self-aware, and mentally strong beings. Not only are these attributes beneficial to the self, but they are coveted. According to David Williams, contributor at Forbes, business owners strive to fill their staff with “athletes”. Not necessarily athletes in the physical sense, rather, the desired traits, often developed through strength training, that many athletes possess. The focus and determination, among other attributes, individuals acquire through strength training are easily transitioned to other facets of life and are strongly desired by businesses. According to Williams, business owners and CEOs look for individuals who possess the drive to practice a task rigorously, relentlessly, and even in the midst of failure until they succeed. Moreover, athletes are tenacious, as they seldom give up or quit. They also have a strong work ethic and the ability to respect and deal with the inevitable issues of temporary pain.

Takeaway

Strength training has become increasingly promoted for health reasons. This is due in large part to its ability to speed the resting metabolism and increase muscular size, strength, and endurance. Although these notions may be true, the psychological benefits associated with strength training are equally as important. Not only does it solidify a sense of self-confidence and build mental fortitude, but it provides opportunities to contribute to other facets of life. The self confidence and fortitude developed through strength training are coveted in other facets of life and in the professional world as these traits are signs of a hard worker. Although it is debated whether strength training is essential for building physical fitness, the psychological values established through this form of exercise make it an indispensable tool for bettering the self.



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