Why Lifting Weights Makes You Live Longer

One more kilo...

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'Strong not Skinny' remains excellent #fitspiration.

And for anyone who has recently become hooked on weights and has seen how it benefits other parts of their training, 2017 will see a lot more strength based classes at gyms, with an emphasis on heavier lifts, all under the expert eye of a trainer.

But it's not all about building muscle or sculpting an ab crack; there's another huge advantage to dedicating yourself to dead lifts.

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There are numerous studies which state that weight training slows down the ageing process.

Researchers at Harvard University found that weight lifting can be more beneficial than aerobic training (going for a run, swimming, cycling) in staving off age-related weight gain.

Amy Dixon, Fitness Instruct and Senior Creative Manager for Group Fitness Programming at Equinox, has just created a strength training class for the high-end fitness clubs.

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Amy's a big believer in resistive training being 'the fountain of youth', especially for women.

Which myths would you like to bust about women and weights?

Importantly, that lifting heavy weights, or indeed weightlifting full stop, will build unwanted muscle mass and make you 'bulky'.

I've known women carry a 5kg handbag daily, but are worried about picking up a 5kg dumbbell during a workout.

Some women actively avoid weight lifting for fear of 'bulking' and as a result are missing out on a huge list of health benefits.

I've known women carry a 5kg handbag daily, but are worried about picking up a 5kg dumbbell during a workout

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How heavy should you be lifting when you've just started?

Based on the format of Pure Strength, where participants lift heavier weights with fewer repetitions to build strength not muscle mass, I'd recommend starting at 7kg in each hand for a dumbbell and progressing up to a 22kg maximum.

If you're training with a kettlebell, start with 10kg each hand and lift no heavier than 30kg.

What you want to ask yourself is, 'am I fatigued by 8 repetitions?' if you can continue lifting with perfect form after 8 reps, you need to transition to a heavier weight. Some women are fatigued by rep 2, 3 of 4 and that's fine! Where you land on the scale of fatigue is individual to you.

How does strength training keep you young?

The list is long and I would describe strength training as the fountain of youth.

Weight lifting means your bone density increases and this is vital; keeping your bones strong as you age will help you remain upright and maintain a good posture. You will walk tall, and walk strong.

The more you strength train and the stronger you become, the higher the number of calories you will burn at rest; your metabolism will be fired up.

Weight lifting also means your body looks after itself even when at rest, as we get older this is an extra help.

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If you weight train and have strong, healthy muscles, you will have less fatty tissue between the skin and the muscle, this keeps your skin looking young and healthy.

Women should have a base amount of fatty tissue between the skin and muscle, it's healthy and it's needed.

Training to build strength and not muscle mass does not obliterate fatty tissue, it reduces it.

Would you prioritise weights over cardio?

I would yes, because when you weight lift you get the same benefits associated with cardio training and you build muscle strength.

With cardio training you only build on your cardio endurance, quite simply if you cardio train you get cardio benefits.

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Strength training however gives you the cardio training benefits and then some: postural improvement and hip strength; strength training keeps your back healthy and ensures the body moves in all directions it needs to stay mobile and injury free.

What are your favourite weight / cardio exercises?

Squats, pull-ups, deadlifts, lunges, rows, bench presses in conjunction with active recovery exercises such as planks and v-sits (the boat pose).

I picked these because they are balanced, tried and true; they are classic exercises for a reason as they are targeted and integrated.

A big takeaway here to note, even though you're lifting a targeted area, if you lift heavy weights it works the whole body.

If I am squatting and get the depth needed within the movement, my core is on fire and my upper body has to support that.

Final thought?

As a female athlete who has coached women and men, I can say that fitness is a journey and body acceptance is on a continuum.

Whatever decade of your life that you are in, it is never too late to start strength training.

fitness is a journey and body acceptance is on a continuum

If you are strong and carry yourself well, you will emanate confidence and attitude.

That is my motivation when training women and can be your motivation to start lifting today.

Equinox.com; @equinox

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