As I was carrying my luggage for a recent trip, it got me thinking about the practical reasons strength training and lifting weights are so great. There are so many! That time in the gym isn’t just about the movements you do and objects you lift there. It’s also, mostly, about what happens afterward, when you get to use all that strength, power, range of motion, and endurance.
So let’s celebrate all our hard work—or the hard work we’ll be motivated to do after reading this—by looking at some excellent practical benefits of strength training consistently a few times a week. A quick note here: strength training includes both body weight exercises and training with weights, just to be clear.
You Have the Strength to Carry Things More Easily
Let’s return to my luggage example: it’s really nice to be able to lift and carry heavy things with some ease. There are many heavy things in our regular lives that we might need to or want to pick up and carry:
Children or babies
The weekly trash
Being able to move around heavier items is a real bonus in life. It simply makes your day-to-day less complicated, gives you more autonomy, and is a source of confidence. Also, you can help other people.
You Have Good Range of Motion and Move In a Healthy Way
Lifting weights well requires two primary elements: the strength to be able to move the object as well as the mobility to get it from point A to point B.
This fact emphasizes that it’s critical to learn how to lift and move correctly when you do your weight training program. This is where a personal trainer can really be beneficial: one of their primary mandates is to help you lift safely.
A good personal trainer will also incorporate movements into your workouts that maintain and improve your range of motion. These movements will help you develop all of the smaller supporting muscles, so you’re not overusing the big prime movers like your quads, glutes and biceps.
When you learn how to move well and have the strength to support that healthy movement, you can move through your daily routines with greater ease. You’re able to react to the complexities of your environment, whether you're out hiking, swinging your kids or grandkids around, or doing yardwork.
You Get Injured Less
A huge benefit to all of your consistent work in the gym is that you are far less prone to injury. When you’ve developed big and small muscles alike and learned to move in a healthy way, you’re much less likely to get overuse injuries. You’re also less prone to pull or strain weak or overtired muscles.
When you are strong and can move well, your chances of falling are less, too. You can also react better and quicker to unforeseen events.
Another huge bonus is that lifting weights helps maintain a strong skeletal system, so you reduce the risk of broken bones and stress fractures. This is especially important for older adults, women as well as men.
A Few Words of Caution
Now of course, lifting weights and strength training does come with its own set of risks. Doing too much too fast or lifting poorly can result in injuries. So please don’t do that. Start light and ease into any new routine.
Make sure you’re doing the movement well before adding more weight, and make sure you can move the weight properly, with control, throughout the entire movement.
Again, this is where a personal trainer is really helpful, especially if you're new to the gym or if you haven’t been in a while. And I’ll double down on that last part: if you used to lift weights, but it’s been some time, working with a trainer, even just to get you started, is a great move.
Your body changes over time; jumping right back into what you used to do isn’t advisable. (And certainly, jumping as a novice and doing as much as you can from the get go, also isn't a good idea.) This isn’t to say you won’t get back to your previous state: the human body is amazingly resilient. It is to say, though, that it’s important to give yourself space and time to reintroduce weights and new movement into your life. Give your muscles, ligaments, and tendons time to catch up.
I also want to make a note about nutrition here: weight training and the subsequent muscle, connective tissue, and bone strengthening that result is awesome. But that all requires fuel. Be sure to nourish your body appropriately and enough.
The process of building strength is actually the process of repair: strength isn’t built in the gym, it’s built after your workout. The workout itself stresses your system. Your body responds by repairing and bolstering the areas that have been stressed. That’s how you get strong. For that process to happen, your body needs enough nourishment.
It’s Always a Great Time to Start a Strength Routine
If you’re already in the groove of a weight training program, go ahead and celebrate all the wins. You’ve got this! If you’re new to this area of fitness or think maybe it’s something that’s not for you, I’d encourage you to go for it.
Strength training will benefit any body and every body. It is a foundation of overall health (along with good nutrition, sleep, aerobic movement, and a good stretching routine), regardless of how active or inactive you might be, at the moment. It doesn’t matter your age or state of fitness.
Your body will move better, perform better, and feel better with a consistent, well-considered strength training program. And you’ll experience those benefits every single day.