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Lifting Yourself Into a New Year: The Benefits of Weightlifting

Peter Stefo -- Eagle Staff Writer


Being physically healthy is something that many people strive for. Whether you want to lose weight or gain muscle, there is one important thing to help you get the physique you want: weightlifting.


Lots of people think of weightlifting as some high-intensity sport only for big, strong guys, but in reality, it’s one of the easiest parts of being healthy. Anyone can go to the gym and lift weights suitable for your strength, and as long as you find video tutorials or have a friend to help you, you won't get hurt.

Senior Christian Hernandez deadlifting 500 pounds.(Courtesy photo)

Having muscles has a lot more benefits than just being aesthetically pleasing. A more muscular physique increases your resting metabolic rate. According to ACAP HealthWorks, Estimates suggest that every pound of muscle burns roughly six calories per day at rest," Tim Church, professor of preventative medicine at Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University, says, "That’s about three times as many calories as a pound of fat, which burns roughly two calories per day”.


Lifting weights and building muscle will help you burn more calories just sitting around doing nothing. This is very important for losing weight because it makes it a lot easier to be on a calorie deficit, which is where your body burns more calories than you consume. It doesn't matter how much weight you lift or how much cardio you do, you will not lose weight if you're not on a calorie deficit.


There are lots of things you can do to be on a calorie deficit like cardio and fixing your diet,but at the end of the day, a calorie deficit is only way to lose weight.


Another big benefit of lifting weights is the increased strength you gain. This one sounds obvious but you really don’t notice the difference until it just hits you. The big benefit of this is being able to carry more stuff, or carry it with less effort.

 

Junior Richy Stevens benching 355 lbs. (Courtesy photo)

Lifting weights can also improve your sleep. ”This is because strength training creates a molecule called adenosine, which tends to cause drowsiness,” Runners World explains. Sleep in general is very important for both losing fat and building muscle. If your sleep schedule is poor then you will struggle to see results. According to 1upNutrition, “During sleep our body is engulfed in a cascade of important muscle-building hormones, like testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF)-1." Lifting helps you sleep which helps you gain more muscle and lose more fat.

Weight training will also reduce your risk of injury both in and outside the gym by strenghthening both bones and ligaments. “The physiological adaptations to bone, muscle, tendons, and ligaments of those individuals who participate in resistance training compared to those who don’t, can’t be debated,” says MensHealth.


Strength training also has many mental benefits as well as physical. One example is that it has been proven to help with depression. “Studies demonstrated an overwhelmingly positive effect on those who suffer from depression — for some, almost immediately, ” explains Tempo

The reason for this is most likely all the feel-good chemicals that your body releases when you workout. "When you exercise, several neurotransmitters are released, including endorphins, endocannabinoids, and dopamine,” says Healthline.

Endorphins are very important as they are the reason that lifting weights doesn’t hurt. That’s why you're sore in the morning but not while working out. Dopamine and endocannabinoids are chemicals that make you feel good. It’s pretty obvious why you would want to have these chemicals going all around inside you, and lifting weights is probably one of the best ways to get them.

JuniorDrew Davis squatting 405 lbs. (Courtesy photo)

One of the best mental effects is the confidence boost that you get from lifting weights. I can say that I like myself at least twice as much as I did before I started lifting weights. “Recent studies have shown that people who did strength training in comparison to a cardio training group had significantly better self-esteem over the study’s period,” says Simply Gym.


Lots of people may worry about working out with weights because they don’t want to hurt themselves. This is an understandable concern, but as long as you don’t go too hard and make sure you're doing it right, your risk of injury is very low. Just seek out proper training from gym staff before beginning.


With all these benefits weightlifting seems like a no-brainer. If you start now I can guarantee that you will see improvements within a couple of months.

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