5 Reasons to Lift Weights

Ed Pavalko, M. Ed., CSCS
August 13 th , 2019

Cardio is great. For most of us, the machines are pretty simple to understand. It is easy enough to walk
into the fitness center, hop on the treadmill, move for an hour, break a sweat, and walk out feeling
accomplished. That is a great workout! I’m not here to knock people incorporating cardio into their exercise
protocol. In fact, I believe cardio is a necessary component to a fitness program. I am here to tell you, though,
that if you rely on cardio as your only form of exercise, you are missing out on the great benefits of resistance
training. Here are just 5 of the reasons that you need to start lifting weights.

1. Building Muscle Boosts Your Metabolism
● Lean muscle is “constantly active for purposes of maintenance and remodeling of muscle
protein” (Westcott, 2014, p. 328). The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even
while you are just sitting to read this article or lying in bed at night.
● Individuals who do not perform regular strength training lose about 5 pounds of muscle mass
per decade, resulting in a 3% – 8% reduction in their resting metabolic rate (Westcott, 2014, p.
328).
● By stimulating your muscles through regular strength training, you can combat this reduction in
lean muscle mass and the subsequent decline in your metabolic rate. For most of us, the more
calories we burn, the better.

2. Resistance Training Builds Strong Bones
● Most people are familiar with the idea that lifting weights can help build strong muscles. That’s
pretty obvious. What is less obvious, is that implementing an appropriate resistance training
program has the ability to stimulate bone growth and decrease the risk of osteoporosis (Haff &
Triplett, 2016, p. 101).
● When we lift weights, the force generated by our muscles pulls on our skeleton. This stress
effectively turns on bone building cells in our bones, serving to increase our bone mass and
density.

3. Lifting Weights Reduces the Risk of Injury and Helps in Disease Prevention
● Similarly to our bones, our ligaments, tendons, and cartilage benefit from resistance training. As
we get stronger, we are able to expose our joints to higher levels of stress. The structures that
make up our joints respond by increasing their strength in order to facilitate our increased
muscle strength and size. Stronger joints means a lower risk of injury (Haff & Triplett, 2016, p.
101).
● Resistance training is also associated with improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors
such as decreasing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels (Westcott,
2014, p. 328).
● Additionally, improving our body composition is associated with a reduction in the risk of type 2
diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and depression.

4. Lifting Weights Mimics Activities of Daily Living
● In our day-to-day lives we are constantly lifting, moving, pushing, and pulling objects. Cardio
isn’t able to simulate these activities of daily living (ADLs) the same way that strength training is
able to.
● Resistance training requires our nervous system to recruit our body’s muscle to perform
activities. As we train our nervous system to efficiently work with our muscular system, we are
able to increase coordination, balance, and stability.

5. Lifting Weights Helps to Reshape and Tone Your Body
● Reshaping and toning our bodies all comes down to two things. Increasing the size of our
muscles, while decreasing the amount of fat covering them up. A quality nutrition regiment
coupled with appropriately executed cardio sessions will work primarily to attack those fat
stores. In terms of increase the size of our muscles? There is no comparable substitute to
resistance training when it comes to increasing muscle size.

A Call to Action
No one is asking you to lift weight that is significantly heavy or train as though you are trying to enter
the next bodybuilding contest. That’s not what this is about. This is about regularly exposing your body to an
external load in order to reap the benefits that you will find as your body responds to this new stress. Here are
some pointers to help you safely and effectively begin strength training (Westcott, 2014, p. 328).
● Strength train two to three times per week.
● Start with low intensity while your body adjusts to your new training protocol.
● Complete 1 – 3 sets and 12 – 15 reps of each exercise. Consistency is key.
● Start with simple movements with bodyweight, dumbbells, and machines before advancing to multi-joint
movements such as deadlifts, back squats, and bench presses.

Citations
Haff, G, & Triplett, T. (2016). Essentials of strength training and conditioning: Fourth Edition . Champaign, IL:
Human Kinetics.
Westcott, W. (2014). American council on exercise: Personal trainer manual: Fifth Edition. San Diego, CA:
American Council on Exercise.