Most people start lifting because they want to have more visible muscle definition and lose body fat. It’s generally focused on altering body composition and fitting a certain look. However, there are many more benefits to lifting weights that have nothing to do with physical appearance, and these become more important the older we get.
- Stronger musculoskeletal system
Most people associate lifting weights or resistance training with stronger muscles and increased muscle mass.This does occur; however, resistance training improves the strength of our entire musculoskeletal system – muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints. Having stronger tendons and ligaments, mobile joints, and denser bones helps our bodies stay more resilient and mobile as we age. Stronger bodies are less prone to injuries and health concerns such as osteoporosis.
- Power development
Power is the ability to move a load over time. Lifting weights explosively helps to develop your power, which is important for all sorts of everyday activities, such as lifting the groceries onto the bench, catching your child as they’re about to run across the road, steadying yourself after you trip. All of these movements require you to move a load (either external or your own bodyweight) a certain distance, quickly.
Proprioception is the awareness of the position and movement of your body. Lifting weights improves your coordination and body awareness (proprioception) as it requires you to practice moving your body with control. In order to do this well, progress your weight, and improve your skills, you need to be aware of where your body is in space and what it’s doing. Having more awareness of what your body is doing and how it’s moving will improve coordination, which is important for lifting in the gym but also for general daily movement.
We mentioned earlier that lifting builds a more resilient body, in that your body becomes better able to withstand force and you’re therefore less likely to suffer serious injury from trips and falls, for instance. However, lifting also improves your mental resilience. Training requires you to challenge yourself constantly, learn new skills, and be willing to be uncomfortable to achieve a greater benefit. If you’re not resilient, this challenge can be too much and it’s easier to give up. However, building this resilience through your training will encourage greater resilience in the face of other challenges outside of the gym. Firstly, because you have practiced resilience but also because being stronger physically helps you manage stress and be better able to handle stressful situations.
If you think lifting weights is just for bodybuilders or people who want to get as strong as humanly possible, think about adding it to your training so you can reap all the other health benefits!