If you don’t make lifting weights a priority, you might want to reconsider how you’re going about getting in shape.
I won’t go so far as to say it’s the best form of exercise, but I can give you a few reasons why I think you need to do it, regardless of what else you do to stay active.
7 reasons, to be exact…
1. Look Good Naked (or at least in a swimsuit)
Your instinct might be to do some cardio.
Or your instinct might be to do as much cardio as humanly possible, trying to burn a metric-shit-ton of calories and, if necessary, puke out the rest.
Your instinct is a little off.
Looking good naked is subjective, but what most people mean by this is slimming down and toning up. To change your body composition like this, cardio isn’t the way to go. What you need is muscle.
You don’t have to “bulk up.” (i can’t say this enough: lifting weights does not equal getting huge – and your diet can help control that).
But you can’t get muscle definition (aka toned) without having muscle to define in the first place.
This requires strength/resistance training.
The specific way you do it depends on your exact goals. You just can’t do it with cardio alone.
So start by grabbing some weights, and then exude confidence as you “slip into something more comfortable.”
2. Feel Good
These are all things I’m defining as “feeling good”:
Walking up a hill without having to stop for a break.
Being fit enough to rearrange furniture.
Rushing up a flight of stairs without feeling like death.
Shoveling snow without breaking your back.
In other words, having the energy to get through your day, no matter what’s in store.
You might be active all day long, but your heart rate only gets elevated for brief intervals. Which is why you don’t need the cardiovascular endurance of a marathoner.
You need strength.
The more strength you have, the less your daily tasks stress your muscles, and the less drained you’ll feel after doing them.
You don’t have to be big to be strong. But you do have to lift some weights.
Disclaimer: Shoveling snow is still gonna suck.
3. Get Stronger
If you want to get stronger, you need to do strength training. Seems obvious, right?
What may not be obvious is there are a million different ways to do it. Literally. I just counted them in my head.
There’s bodyweight exercises, machines (generally not my favorite but useful in their own right), resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, all of the above and more.
The most proven method is the traditional “lift a weight, put it down, repeat.” But even within that structure there are so many variables. If you don’t like one way of doing it, try another.
It doesn’t have to be overcomplicated.
In fact, it can be as simple as downloading our free ebook, “Home Workout for Beginners: Get in Shape in 20 Minutes a Day (no gym equipment required).”
4. Improve Cardio
Depending upon how your program is designed, you can get a great all-around workout from lifting weights alone.
Doing separate strength training and cardio exercises can give even better results. But many people don’t have time for that.
If you can only do one thing, consider this:
Cardio exercises, while great for heart health, can have a negative impact on your strength. Lifting weights can improve your strength and cardio at the same time, giving you the best of both worlds.
5. Get “Abs”
Having a solid core is vital to your overall well-being.
Some of the best exercises for your core aren’t specifically ab exercises— they’re squats, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups… exercises that are staples of a good weight lifting program.
Yet I see people all the time whose workout routine is 50% cardio, 5% weights, and 45% ab work (sit-ups, crunches, etc.).
They think if you do a bunch of ab exercises, you’ll lose belly fat. Sorry to tell ya… it doesn’t work that way.
On the other hand, if you have semi-decently low body fat but still no six-pack, you might not have enough muscle for those abs to shine through.
You can always sprinkle in a couple core specific exercises (and you should). But they can be included in a strength program without adding any time to your workout.
6. For Flexibility
Lifting weights makes you less flexible. Except for one thing… that’s a myth.
Through strength training, you can improve mobility by gradually increasing your range of motion with certain exercises over time.
I also like including yoga exercises in a workout, either in your warmup, or done between sets of lifting.
The problem with only doing stretching exercises is it’s not the whole picture.
Many people who are super into yoga are already a bit hyper-mobile, which is why they enjoy it, they’re good at it.
If that’s you, you would do well to include strength training, improving stability where the joint is not at your end range of motion.
7. Be Healthy
I’m not going to run through a list of all the health benefits of strength training.
For me, lifting weights is a simple, yet surprisingly versatile form of exercise. It’s efficiency makes it easier to stick with it. Which means it’s more likely to be effective.
All exercise, no matter what type, is good for you for many reasons.
I’d rather you do something than nothing, and I don’t care what it is. But now you know many of the benefits of strength training, so hopefully you’ll give it a try.
If you’re interested in getting started, I’d love to be a part of that. Whether it be through our online coaching, or just answering your questions, I’m happy to help.