Lift smart and train hard

squatting in the ymca club

Do you find yourself in the gym, day after day, week after week, month after month performing your workouts but without really knowing why? Maybe you want to improve body composition, get stronger, jump higher or run faster? All worthy goals but did you also know there are a number of other benefits to working out and lifting weights regularly?

To find out WHY you should we be lifting weights read on. 

  • A well designed and executed strength training programme increases muscle mass, strength, endurance and power. You will perform better in your workouts and in your everyday tasks like carrying shopping bags, reaching the highest shelf in your cupboard and climbing the stairs.
  • Weight training strengthens tendons and ligaments and increases bone density. Higher bone density reduces the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures, which is particularly important for females over the age of 50. A strong musculoskeletal system can help you avoid or resist impact injuries.
  • Improved posture. Strength training improves overall posture and also helps with specifically postural faults caused by muscular imbalances. The way you sit, stand and walk are influenced by your neck, shoulder, back, hip and abdominal muscles (core). Stronger core muscles can help you stand and sit straighter and more comfortably. A strong core will help you with activities that require balance and stability.
  • Reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and blood fats. This lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Increased basal metabolic rate. This is the rate at which your body burns calories. Muscle mass requires more energy than fat tissue, so the more muscle you have the more calories you will burn! Which takes us to the next point:
  • Reduced body fat. A well planned and executed weight training programme can produce lean mass gains of 20% of your starting body weight after the first year of training.
  • Anti-ageing benefits. Without strength training, adults can lose between 2.3-3.2 kg of muscle every ten years. This loss occurs mainly in Fast Twitch fibres which control strength and explosive movements. If you only do cardiovascular exercise you won’t prevent this, but if you add resistance to your training it can help to retain your muscle mass and strength as you get older.
  • Improved psychological wellbeing and appearance. A consistent programme can help to reduce stress and anxiety, uplift your mood and promote more restful sleep. The increased muscle tone, improved posture and increase in lean mass and decrease in body fat can also enhance the way you look and increase your self-confidence.
  • Inner strength. For me, this is the most important one! If you approach the bar with a positive mental attitude, challenge yourself every time and keep trying until you get it right, you will feel a huge sense of accomplishment and your confidence will only increase.

Despite all these benefits, there are still some myths around weight training:

  • Lifting weights make women bulky. I will discuss this in the future, but briefly, women have ten times less testosterone (muscle building hormone) than men, so women can’t achieve the same level of muscle mass as men.
  • If you stop training muscle becomes fat. Muscle and fat are two completely different types of tissue, they can’t turn into each other. However, you would lose muscle mass and gain body fat if you stopped training and consumed more calories than needed.
  • Lifting harms the joints. Wrong technique will, but strength training performed properly and safely will have completely the opposite effect!

Lift smart, train hard! 

About the Author

Angela Rey is our Studio Coordinator and a Personal Trainer here in the Club. She started her fitness journey as a Club volunteer, before becoming a member of the Gym team and then progressing to fulfil her current role as Studio Coordinator and Personal Trainer. She is firm believer in hard work and consistency to reach your fitness and has an insatiable thirst for learning. She has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology as well as plethora of fitness qualifications. On a normal week you will find her teaching everything from HIIT to kettlebells and cycling classes amongst other things and when it comes to training herself you’ll often find her in the weights room, performing circuits or working on her mobility and flexibility. She is available for one-to-one PT sessions at YMCA Club. To learn more email her.


Do you want to receive more articles like this directly in your inbox? Sign up to our Newsletter.

ymca | 4 March 2016