We’ve combined forces with Fernwood Fitness to bring you Lift the Nation – a campaign to inspire women to start lifting weights.
Words by Melanie Katz.
Let’s face it, many of us begrudgingly drag ourselves to the gym for purely aesthetic reasons. And in the dark days of winter, when our amazing abs and sculpted arms our hidden snugly beneath layers and layers of clothes, it can be difficult to muster the motivation to work out.
But the beauty of lifting weights is that it brings a whole range of benefits to your mind and body that have nothing to do with how you look. So next time you’re contemplating skipping leg day for another night on the couch, take a moment to consider one of the other benefits you’ll get from turning up to your Pump class… you might just change your mind.
Lifting weights boost your muscle mass to body fat ratio, which has the almost magical benefit of raising your metabolic rate, that is, the rate at which your body burns kilojoules when at rest. Studies have shown that adding an extra 1.4kg of muscle mass can increase your metabolism by up to 7 per cent, meaning if you’re lifting weights, you can probably have an extra (healthy!) snack or two.
Boosting your metabolic rate gives you much more than a licence to eat more – when you improve your metabolism you gain truckloads of extra energy (goodbye 3pm brain fog!). Plus you’ll be sleeping better at night; studies show getting 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week can provide up to a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality.
If you want to feel young well into your golden years, regular weight training can help prevent chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, back pain and obesity, or help control symptoms in people already suffering from these illnesses.
Research at McMaster University in Ontario found that after 12 weeks of regular weight training women enjoyed a huge spike in body image plus greater self-confidence from the satisfaction of gradually lifting more weights. And the benefits don’t end there; for those suffering from depression, high-intensity strength training was found to be more effective at reducing depressive symptoms than low-intensity strength training, according to a 2005 Harvard study of 60 older adults with depression.
Sometimes it’s the little things that matter most – like opening a jam jar, hauling a week’s worth of shopping into the house in a single hit, or being able to beat your significant other in a push-up competition. Why go through life only reaching half your physical capacity? Strength training allows you to realise what your body is truly capable of – and perhaps that’s the most motivating reason to feel the burn of all.
Try weight training for free at Fernwood Fitness during Lift The Nation, June 20-26. Register online for priority access and your free Lift The Nation Workout Guide at www.liftthenation.com