What would you rather? To be able to fit into the skinny jeans on your top shelf or to be able to be able to carry ALL the groceries into the house at the same time? To rock a pair of board shorts sans beer gut or recreate 007 sauntering out of the sea…….mmmmmm-mmm……. Let’s have it all! They say ‘strong is the new skinny’ and I couldn’t agree more. Eat your heart out Posh and Paris (seriously-eat!) because we are going to lift! We are going to lift heavy weights, lift our health and lift our spirits to that magical land where we love our own body ….

We are constantly urged by current public health guidelines to increase physical activity. We’re encouraged to perform steady state aerobic exercises like walking and running to improve cardio respiratory fitness and burn calories to lose fat and change body composition.

But what gives?

“I walk every day and I can’t seem to lose any more weight….”

Research shows that regular strength/resistance/weight training has profound positive effects on our health and body. Paired with your regular aerobic jaunt, strength training will have you looking good in your birthday suit (or otherwise) and reaping the health benefits you deserve! Let’s face it. LIFE IS EASIER WHEN YOU’RE STRONG!!

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Let me explain….

When you lift heavy, you prevent bad stuff happening….

Research has shown that strength training reduces or even halts sarcopenia. This is the loss of muscle mass and strength as a natural result of ageing. I for one, don’t want to live off overcooked mashed potato and icecream and jelly in a nursing home with a doll in my lap….By the time we are 70, our muscle mass has halved!!!

I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Osteoporosis-or put simply-weak, crumbly bones. Easy to break hips (and end up in a nursing home with ice cream and jelly) when your bones are brittle. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, bone loss increases significantly for both women AND men during midlife- and even more so after menopause. It has been proven that strength training prevents the loss of bone and can also promote bone GROWTH. Programmes specifically aimed at strengthening hips, spine ( and core ) areas are most beneficial as these are the sites most prevalent with osteoporosis. So next time I ask you to squat or plank, think of icecream and jelly….or the prevention of!

As well as osteoporosis, strength training plays a part in preventing heart disease. Lifting heavy stuff helps to correct issues related to cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes-all contributing to cardiac disease.

Strength training has also been shown to improve quality of life and help manage those with arthritis, Parkinson’s, Down’s, lymphedema (compromised lymphatic drainage causing swelling and fluid retention), fibromyalgia (widespread, chronic pain throughout the body and its systems) stroke survivors, cancer patients, the clinically depressed and those with spinal cord injuries.

Things are looking up aren’t they? I’ll have you bathing in the Bahamas in a bikini ( or board shorts) before your carer is scraping mash potato off your cardigan in a nursing home….!

Moving along….

When you lift heavy, your body will thank you (more so after day 2 ….after the sore bits stop hurting) …and you might even thank your friendly personal trainer.

Strength training is a workout that gives you the most bang for your buck. It increases bone density, decreases resting blood pressure, strengthens cardiac output, controls blood sugar, improves blood flow, and improves balance (you WILL improve!) and co-ordination.

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It’s one of those buzz words we all know and love. METABOLISM. We want a high metabolism. Why? Because more calories (packets of energy) are needed to maintain muscle as opposed to fat. Strength training increases resting metabolic rate (RMR) thereby burning fat more efficiently (and ‘no’- this doesn’t mean you can eat THAT much extra!). The more muscle you build, the more fat you burn and the smaller your waist becomes, in the bikinis, in the Bahamas….

As well as a boosted metabolism, strength training can increase your level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

My WHAT?

During a weights session, your muscles require large amounts of oxygen. After the workout, it takes time for the body to replenish this and return to a state of equilibrium. This whole process requires calories (energy). So while you sit and tell your friends how awesome your session at The Studio Trainer was, the home fires keep on burning-so to speak- and your metabolism stays elevated for hours.

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When you lift heavy you will feel better (especially in the Bahamas…you think I need a holiday?)

Like I said- LIFE IS EASIER WHEN YOU’RE STRONG!

Strength training will make you feel more energetic, more confident and more like you can cope with every day life. It lowers stress levels and fatigue. The less stress and fatigue  you have, the less likely you are to reach for the Tim Tams at 3pm…and then the last piece of cake in the tea room….and then the Coke, ‘cos hey -you’ve already done this much damage, may as well go all out and start again tomorrow..or Monday…you get the idea.

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With strength training comes a better overall mood. You will sleep well and you will think better. Research suggests improved cognitive function from strength work. Your posture will also improve and we ALL need a little bit o’ that!

Strength makes the heart grow stronger. Training with weights challenges your body,mind and soul in ways cardio can’t and it helps you to continue doing the things you love. It helps you stand tall and proud, clears the mind and keeps you away from mashed potatoes and cardigans….That is for the weak.

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Go forth and lift (with safe and proper technique), my friends, lift….lift like you’re on the beach in the Bahamas……

E x

Have I changed your mind? Willing to give weights a go? Let me know, along with any other comments …I’d love to hear from you.