Why We All Need Weight Training for Health and Wellness

Man weight training with kettle bells for health and wellness

Not everyone is into weight training even if health and wellness are a major priority. I know many of us aren’t interested in giant biceps or power lifting 3x their body weight. As a competitive cyclist, I agree. That said, we all tend to lean into activities, sports or hobbies that we enjoy most and/or are best at.

You rarely see a grand master yogi dead lifting at the cross-fit gym, right? If health and wellness, as well as, improved performance, injury prevention and the maintenance of a healthy body weight are important to you then weight training should be incorporated into your weekly program.

Myths About Weight Training

“I don’t want to get bulky.” I’ve heard this all my life. From a former “gym rat”, trust me, it’s very difficult to add pounds of muscle especially if that is not your goal. It took me years of disciplined diet and specific weight training programs to add just a few pounds of lean muscle when I was in my 20s. Yes, I did look “bulkier” than I do now as an endurance athlete, but I hardly looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So chill out. You’re very unlikely to suddenly burst into a giant muscle-bound body builder from weight training a few times per week. This is especially true for women who have less testosterone. The benefits to health and wellness greatly outweigh the unrealistic “bulking” fear. This study shows that those who weight train are actually more flexible than those who do not.

Cardio burns more calories than weight training so is better for weight loss/maintenance. Yes, while cardio can often burn more calories per session than weight training it’s more complicated than that. Without getting to into the weeds on this, the more muscle you have the more calories you burn while not working out.

Muscles require energy at rest while fat is largely just stored energy. So a pound of muscle is much better than a pound of excess fat. One big reason for age-related weight gain, is loss of lean muscle mass, not necessarily increased caloric intake. Once we get into our mid-30s (roughly) we start to lose muscle, little by little. Weight lifting, regularly, can slow down this muscle loss.

Zenberry is the perfect recovery smoothie for your weight training program.

Zenberry Superfood Smoothie next to flower
Zenberry Recovery Smoothie with chia seeds

Weight training will make me less competitive in my sport of choice. If you’re an endurance athlete or into yoga etc, weight training shouldn’t be your primary activity. But sport-specific weight training will usually improve performance. We all need cross training but especially if we spend hours per week doing the same motion like cycling. Ask any runner and they’ll tell you the list of injuries they’ve had over the years (most of them overuse injuries). Weight training can help reduce overuse injuries by correcting imbalances, increasing bone-density and the strength of connective tissue.

Cyclist's legs from weight training

Benefits of Weight Training for Health & Wellness

I’ve spoken of a few of these above but here is a quick list.

  • Improved bone density
  • Improved strength
  • Reduces overuse and other injuries
  • Improved performance in other sports
  • Helps with weight management especially as we age
  • Decreases risk of falls as we age
  • You may look leaner even if your weight hasn’t changed
  • Improves heart health and blood sugar management
  • Better self-esteem

How to Start Weight Training

I do not recommend running out and joining a gym and start attempting max sets of Olympic lifts. Keep it simple and light. Seek out a personal trainer/experienced friend you trust or sign up for a class at your gym or online.

Emma Galland, our co-founder, has been training people for over 20 years. She has one-on-one as well as online group classes, nutrition and wellness coaching. Sign up today at Goji Fitness.

Weight training doesn’t have to be complicated. Today, we are bombarded on social media with these complex choreographed movements with kettle bells, bands, balance boards etc. They are seeking views, clicks and followers so the more eye-catching it is the better. I find that keeping it simple and to the point, is best.

When first starting out, just aim for the basic muscle groups and stick to machines which are a bit safer for beginners. Things like leg press, bench press, leg curls, lat pull-down, bicep curls etc. Always ease into new exercises and always consult your physician before starting any new exercise program/routine.

Keep it short. There is no need to spend hours in the gym unless it’s just something you love to do. I do not enjoy the gym that much so I get in, get it done and get out. I try to keep it to 1 hour at the most. Starting with 30 minutes, 2 times per week, is a great place to start to improve your health and wellness.

Man weight training with dumbbells
VMO squats on a slant board

You might also be interested in this blog post about what a plant-based competitive athlete eats in a day.

Thank you for reading. Happy lifting!

Shane

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