Why Everyone Should Lift Weights
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Health and Wellness

Why Everyone Should Lift Weights

The science behind the most efficient workout.

Why Everyone Should Lift Weights

For many, the gym can be a terrifying place. There are hundreds of machines with buttons and levers and pulleys, and you wonder how to operate them without looking ridiculous. You spot the familiar line of treadmills and think, Okay, let's start there. But then you remember how boring running is and casually walk away.

And then you see it. The weight floor, surrounded by a swarm of bros like bees around a hive, looks like the most intimidating area of the gym. The range of weights is terrifying and oh, my gosh, how does that machine even work?

So why do beginners at the gym gravitate more toward running than weightlifting? Because they don't have to be taught how to run. It's an innate skill we've inherited from our ancient ancestors. When you're in danger, you don't think about running, you just do it thanks to our fight-or-flight response. Nowadays, we really only run for recreation, so much of the thrill is lost (sorry, running enthusiasts).

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of benefits to cardiovascular exercise, but for the everyday person, I believe weightlifting is much more beneficial. Think about it: as humans, we lift weights every day. Whether you're lugging a heavy backpack across campus, pushing open a heavy door, or carrying all your groceries from your car so you don't have to make two trips, you're already exercising your muscles. And it doesn't take long to feel the effects.

The science behind weightlifting is amazing. When you start to lift heavy weights, the tiny fibers in your muscles tear. But this is good, because your body will naturally repair itself. As you start to lift more, you'll get used to the weight, and this is due to the muscle actually growing in size, a phenomenon technically known as hypertrophy. This is the coolest part: because your muscles are growing, you'll need more energy to fuel those muscles, so your body will obtain that fuel through your diet and stored fats.

Another great benefit to weight training is stronger bones. When your muscles start to build, the bones they are attached to must be able to support such growth. Just like the muscles, your bones will go through repair and increase their bone mineral density (BMD) to be better able to support your growing muscles. This is especially important for older adults who are more prone to low bone mineral density conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.

When thinking about lifting weights, it's usually females that are the most wary because they don't want to get bulky. But think about what those bulky women are doing with their lives: if your mind instantly thought of the very muscular Serena Williams, remember that she is an athlete for a living. Her sport requires a certain level of muscular strength for her success. Ladies, if you just want to be fit and toned, you won't get bulky. For inspiration, read this article about weightlifter Staci's transformation.

I could go on for ages about the benefits of weight training, but in order to truly understand, I highly encourage everyone to go out and lift some weights. Take advantage of your gym's staff and programs. Generally, most college campuses will offer a discounted fitness evaluation and program design (such as the U-Fit program here at UofL). Definitely ask the gym staff for a tour of the facility and let them help you get acquainted with the equipment. If you still feel uncomfortable, go with a friend! It's more fun when you can laugh at each other rather than feel embarrassed by yourself. Lastly, do your research. Resources such as the NSCA, ACSM, and the always awesome Nerd Fitness website can guide you through new exercises and show you proper form to prevent injuries.

Weight training may look scary, but once you get involved, you'll look and feel scary good!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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