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Published on April 24, 2020

Benefits of Lifting Weights Both Men and Women Can Experience

Benefits of Lifting Weights Both Men and Women Can Experience

Thinking of taking up the challenge of weight lifting? Do you want to tone up and lose that excess body fat?

Many fitness enthusiasts take up weight lifting for its wide range of benefits. Resistance training is a highly enjoyable workout that offers an efficient way to improve all components of your fitness – strength, endurance, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness.

The benefits of lifting weights are relevant for both men and women alike. Understanding its benefits allows you to make the right choices when personalizing your workouts and maximizing your progress from each session.

Let us briefly go through the fundamentals of weight training.

What Happens to Your Body When You Start Weight Lifting?

Your body undergoes different physiological responses when you engage in weight lifting. This all depends on what component of your fitness you wish to target, and what methods and variations you plan to adopt in your routine.

If you are looking to achieve “muscle growth”, you may want to consider lifting heavier and performing fewer repetitions. If you are looking to increase your “muscle endurance”, you might want to consider lifting lighter and performing a lot more repetitions.

Adaptation Phase

Let us start with adaptation. This phase usually lasts roughly 4-6 weeks and can be the most mentally challenging part.

It is natural for everyone to experience soreness when they start weight training (people complain most about this in their arms and legs). This is the body’s natural response to identifying physical activity as new.

This may be because your muscles have not engaged in physical activity for a long time or it may be the first time  They simply need time to get used to the new routine.

The onset of this pain, stiffness, and achiness commonly occurs 48-72 hours after performing weight training on targeted muscle groups. This feeling usually disappears after a few days.

Many people can get demotivated or be tempted to quit during this phase. The reasons may vary, but most commonly, it is because people have high self-expectations or do not expect the initial response of their body.

The key is to know that your body will experience this during the adaptation phase. These feelings will decrease after every workout and eventually disappear after about a month.

It is also important to not over-exert your body when adapting to weight training. Doing too much too soon can lead to injury.

Start with simple exercises as opposed to complex movements. Choose lighter weights instead of heavy ones, and perform lots of reps to allow your body to get used to weight training.

As your body gets used to the physiological response of exercise, you can then focus on more fitness goals, such as muscle building from weight training.

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Standard Recommendation: 3-4 Sets, 15-20 Reps per exercise

Muscle Breakdown and Growth

Before your muscles can grow, they must repair and develop by enduring small microscopic tears directly after a vigorous weight training session.

The tears in your muscle fibers are caused by the repetitive contraction of the muscle(s) used in a single weight training exercise. This is the first step to building lean and active muscle mass.

The most effective method of breaking down muscle cells, so they can repair and grow, is a process called hypertrophy. Hypertrophy is best achieved when we lift the maximum weight we can over 8-12 repetitions in a single exercise of a given set.

Building Muscle Through Hypertrophy

There are two important factors for building muscle through hypertrophy: mechanical damage and metabolic failure.

When we lift weights, there are two contractile proteins in our muscle cells, actin, and myosin, that help generate force to overturn the resistance we are lifting. Mechanical damage to these proteins stimulates a response in our body for our muscles to grow.

It can take between 2-5 days for your muscles to recover, especially if you are a beginner. It is important to allow at least 48 hours rest after training a particular muscle group before performing more weight training exercises.

Metabolic failure refers to exhausting all the energy in our muscle cells when we lift weights. These energy molecules in our cells are called ATP. You can certainly feel these stores depleted on your last rep.

These energy stores regenerate pretty quickly. That is why it is recommended to rest for 30-60 seconds before performing the next set of exercises.

For more excellent advice on the basics of hypertrophy, refer to the guidelines instructed by the National Association of Sports Medicine.[1]

Tip: While in Recovery From Weight Training

While actively resting your muscles before your next workout, it is important to incorporate the right nutrition to accompany your body’s recovery. This includes supplementing the right enzymes, amino acids, and protein. Consuming protein directly after weight training is essential for muscle recovery.

Standard Recommendation: 3-4 Sets, 8-12 Reps per exercise

Muscle Endurance

Perhaps you are more conscious about gaining that bulky look? Maybe your desired goals are to simply feel, look leaner, and be stronger. For that reason, you may want to focus more on your muscle endurance.

When we perform higher repetitions without achieving hypertrophy, we put our muscles through a vigorous weight-training session without breaking down as many muscle fibers. This helps us get more of that toned look as opposed to when we tear and repair more muscle fibers, building that aesthetic growth or bulky effect.

Muscular endurance is the ability to continuously contract a muscle against a given resistance. It involves performing higher reps at a lower weight and building muscle stamina.

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Another way of improving muscle endurance is by performing exercises that require you to hold a position for an extensive period (e.g., plank, wall sit).

If your fitness goals are to improve repetitive functional activities in your daily life like shoveling your garden or home renovations, then improving your muscular endurance is key to cope with such activities

The same can be said from a sports-specific point of view. If you wish to climb a mountain or tackle long hills on your bike, you must practice your endurance to build fatigue-resistant muscles.

Standard Recommendation: 3-4 Sets, 15-30 Reps per exercise

Myth About Women and Weightlifting

The common myth that has surrounded women and weightlifting is that “if women lift weights similar to men, then they will start to become more masculine”.

This story has resulted in a “mental block” for many women who wish to gain lean muscle mass through resistance training – the irrational fear or thought of having bulky muscles like men. Although women have the tremendous ability to lift the same weight as men, they do not have the same capacity for increasing muscle mass.

Due to human anatomy, men produce a lot more testosterone than women. So, regardless of how many times women perform resistance training weekly, they will be able to increase muscle mass, but not add pounds of bulk like men.

According to the American Council of Exercise, strength training can cause women to produce more somatotropin. This hormone helps metabolize fat and is said to reduce the effects of biological aging. But it does not promote stimulate the response of bulking muscle.[2]

What Are the Benefits of Lifting Weights?

From the many physiological responses we get from lifting weights, there are many rewards for both men and women. Here are 5 key benefits of how you can live a healthier life from lifting weights:

1. Weight Loss

One thing we have learned from modern exercise science is that weight training is just as effective as a cardiovascular activity when it comes to weight loss.

Weight training allows our body to utilize its aerobic and anaerobic systems when done efficiently. This means we can burn calories from all energy stores when performing resistance training – carbs, sugars, and fats while still targeting muscle groups and putting on lean muscle mass.

When we start to produce lean muscle mass on our body, it promotes weight loss further. Now, when you consume energy or food, your active muscle needs calories, before being stored in your body.

Having new muscle helps shed pounds and boost your metabolism to new levels. Having lean muscle mass can still burn calories when at rest.

2. Musculoskeletal Health

The musculoskeletal system is made up of your muscular and skeletal systems. The function of this system is to support the whole body through the support of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and organs.

Weight training can reduce the symptoms of musculoskeletal health conditions by aiding in joint lubrication and reducing joint pain and stiffness. It also prevents muscle stress and imbalances.

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By training our agonist and antagonist muscles (opposite muscle groups) the correct way, we can avoid any biomechanical issues that can lead to bone and organ issues down the road.

This is especially important for people who have a sedentary lifestyle and sits for long hours or demonstrate bad posture throughout the day. Weight training for your hip flexors and postural muscles is essential for musculoskeletal health as it can lead to spinal or pelvic complications if neglected.[3][4]

3. Improved Mood, Confidence, and Self Esteem

Building muscles or feeling leaner can certainly improve the physical balance of our body and our functional strength. Just as importantly, it improves our mental health.

Looking and feeling aesthetically better restores feelings of self-confidence and self-esteem, and this has a positive impact on our social health. Lifting weights also releases feel-good endorphins in our body and increases the level of serotonin, making us feel more alert and productive!

The release of these feel-good chemicals in our body also reduces the risk of depression and anxiety.

4. Sports-Specific Performance

Athletes need to practice what they preach if they want to perform on game day. Depending on the specific sport you perform, you need to mimic your weight-training program to match what you do against your competitors.

For example, if you are a 100m sprinter, you are going to want to do a strength program your legs to achieve explosive power. If you are a basketball player, you are going to want to outjump your opponent, so adding a plyometric program to your training regiment would be necessary.

Regardless of your abilities, it might be a good idea to consult an experienced strength and conditioning coach to take your weight-training program further at a competitive level.

5. Healthier Heart

While it needs no introduction that cardio is essential for maintaining good cardiovascular health, it is also proven that weight training can help strengthen your heart.

Although you can get an effective cardio workout from weight training, there are several reasons why resistance training can improve your heart health.

Increased Circulation

When we lift weights, we increase our rate of circulation. Blood is sent more efficiently around our body to the muscles being worked. When we increase muscle mass, we send oxygen and other nutrients around our body a lot easier and more frequently. This improves our vascular system and promotes a healthy heart.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Weight Training helps fight against the risk of various heart-related diseases. Because weight training increases the rate of cardiac output and reduces BP, it also decreases symptoms that can cause heart attacks such as stress and arrhythmia.

Resistance training also stimulates weight loss. Weight loss is the key objective for avoiding medical conditions such as diabetes, heart failure, and stroke. An interesting case study from Harvard Health explains how weight lifting can reduce heart-related diseases. [5]

Better Sleep Quality

As mentioned before, weight training helps to release endorphins and serotonin in our system, helping us to feel more relaxed and less tense. This helps people who exercise wind down and sleep better at night time.

Good sleep decreases the work rate of your heart as it allows more oxygen to enter your system, therefore, reducing blood pressure.

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How Long Does It Take to See Benefits From Lifting Weights?

Everybody wants to see fast results from weight lifting, but resistance training is a patience game.

During the adaptation phase (4-6 weeks), you will observe more physical benefits than aesthetic ones. In other words, during this time, your body will learn to cope with recovery.

Your muscles will feel less and less sore between every workout (there will be some off days), and you start to feel stronger, thinking you can take on more.

You will begin to see aesthetic differences within the first month regarding changes in your body composition.

You may see small to significant differences in lean muscle mass versus body fat. The variations of how your body composition will change within this time will depend on the intensity of your workouts (sets, reps, speed, rest time).

Although you do not quite see that warrior in the mirror just yet, your jeans might be fitting better.

If you are a beginner to weight lifting, your body should adapt to putting on muscle size after 4-6 weeks. It is then time to decrease the reps, increase the weight, and reduce your rest times a little.

Your body should now be ready to endure those muscle tears for muscle growth. If this is your primary goal, you should start to see big differences within 8-12 weeks if you are consistent with your program.

Tips to Takeaway

It is important to be particular of your fitness goals when it comes to weight training.

My advice is to train all components of your fitness as they are all necessary for different stages and aspects of your life. There are many benefits of lifting weights, and you have the power to maximize them.

Your musculoskeletal health is especially important. Keep your weight training programs dynamic so they include a lot of movement. This adds extra value to your cardiovascular health.

If you are an office worker who sits for long periods of the day, it is vital that you improve your posture, hip strength, and your core through corrective exercises.

If your job requires heavy lifting, like working in a warehouse, it is essential to practice your strength and endurance.

No matter what your situation is, practicing what you read will help you to enjoy the later years of your life.

If you are looking to compete in any high-level competitions, I recommend consulting with an experienced personal trainer in your area.

More Benefits of Lifting Weights

Featured photo credit: Anastase Maragos via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] NASM.org: Back to the Basics: Hypertrophy
[2] ACE: “4 Myths About Strength Training for Women
[3] London Fitness: How to Prevent Bad Posture
[4] London Fitness: Exercises and Stretches for Tight Hips
[5] Harvard Health Publishing: Give Your Heart Health A Lift

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Ben Walker

Founder & Fitness Specialist, London Fitness

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Last Updated on June 2, 2020

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

Thus, today’s article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question, “why is goal setting important”.

1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

“Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

If you want to learn about some of the golden rules for goal setting that will help you set and achieve your goals successfully check out this article: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

7. Goals Make You Feel Good

Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest!

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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