You can follow a healthy diet and exercise until you are blue in the face (please don’t do that though – it’s just an expression), and your body will never achieve that sinewy, conditioned look you see in the pages of fitness magazines.  Before you assume those chiseled-looking bods of the men and women who grace the magazines’ pages is the result of Photo Shopped images, you should be aware that the look that you admire, and perhaps covet, comes from weight training.

“Oh… weight training” you say glumly.  But… wait a minute – before you stop reading and go no further, because, although you know you’re interested in looking good and getting a primo workout to your muscles and lungs, you may shudder to think that you will end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Well this article will dispel that myth right now.

If you belong to a gym or have one in your home, you might already be getting plenty of cardiovascular exercise on machines like an exercise bike, a stair steppers or a treadmill.  Even if you are a runner, a swimmer, or like a fast-paced game of tennis, you ARE working your lungs and heart but you ARE NOT streamlining your muscles like you do when you embark on a weight-training regimen.  When you lift weights, within a few weeks you will see sculpting of your muscles right before your very eyes.  A weight-training workout, not only gives a workout to your heart and lungs, but your muscles get a supreme workout and you will see improved muscle tone, so after a few weeks you could drop as much as one clothes size!

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Not only will your body become significantly sinewy with improved muscle tone, but some of the other health benefits of weight training are:  it will help to reduce your risk of disease (such as diabetes), prevent back pain (don’t join the 100 million plus Americans  in this “club”) and improve your overall mood (even combating issues of depression) almost immediately after undertaking a weight-lifting program.

Benefits of weight training

  • Instant gratification – How often have you embarked on a diet, or an exercise regimen, and you are diligent in your efforts, yet see no improvement?  How quickly one can become discouraged and go back to their former ways.  By mid-to-late January, many health clubs report that their clientele who bought memberships to begin a fitness regimen due to a New Year’s resolution to become healthier, have abandoned the routine.  In fact they just quit showing up.  With weight training, you’ll be rewarded with results so quickly that you’ll not abandon the weight-training regimen and you’ll push yourself harder.  Not only will you see results when you peer into the mirror, but you will quickly realize your added strength and ability in any other activities or sports you enjoy.
  • Say goodbye to fat and calories – Weight-lifting regimens will help you lose the fat, gain the muscle and burn off calories when practiced on a regular basis.  And here’s an added bonus… your metabolic rate will be so improved after lifting weights, that you will be burning up extra calories even when you’re sitting still.  If you say that your busy schedule will not permit factoring in a weight-training regimen (even after you’ve read all the pros of starting this valuable exercise routine), think again.  In conjunction with a regular exercise regimen, plan to factor in just one-half hour to one hour per week to devote solely to weight lifting.
  • Sleep better – For better sleep you should pump iron.  As a general rule, if you exercise regularly, you will be rewarded with better sleep.  A weight-lifting regimen will kick that reward up a notch or two and in sleep studies, researchers discovered older men who participated in resistance training slept through the night soundly without waking, as opposed to a control group who did not exercise at all.
  • Pumping iron strengthens your bones – Any kind of exercise is beneficial to keep your bones healthy.  You already know to drink lots of milk and eat dairy products, and, for women, doctors vacillate on whether or not vitamin D and/or calcium pills are beneficial or if they pose a risk for post-menopausal women.  And, then there are those who cannot tolerate dairy products due to lactose intolerance, so how do you protect your bones?  Weight-lifting will increase your bone density, then, as you get older, and are less nimble and stable on your feet, a fall resulting in a fracture or break is common among most older adults, will not happen to you as you enjoy healthy bone strength – yes, weight training will protect you against osteoporosis, giving you improved strength and balance thus reducing your fall risk by 30%.
  • Improve your mood – All exercise puts you in a better frame of mind; face it, you just feel good about yourself.  But strength training has even been found to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, in addition to improving self-esteem.  You’ll think better on your feet because pumping iron gives your brainpower a boost.
  • Longevity – Once you embark on a weight-training regimen, you’ll live longer.  While most forms of regular exercise can add years to your life, strength gained from weight-training exercises has even bigger benefits because, as we age, the more muscle mass we have, the less likely we are to die prematurely.
  • Banish the thought of a costly gym membership – If you don’t currently have a gym membership, you needn’t join up, nor will you need to have an expensive set of weight-lifting equipment in a spare room or the basement.  Try lifting ordinary items of moderate weight – say, cans or jars you have around the house.  Your next step is to purchase a pair of five-pound dumbbells and an instructional DVD to begin your weight-training regimen in earnest, but in the comfort of your own home.  You can always consider joining a gym or getting additional equipment later – and, maybe you’ll consider hiring a personal trainer for a few one-on-one sessions.

So, with all the health benefits of weight training… you owe it to yourself to get started today – what are you waiting for?