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To lift or not to lift … that is the question

I've been doing weight training for the better part of 3 years now, since I first started going to the gym. I mean seriously going to the gym. I had brief stints when I was younger when I would go to the gym, but I would only do cardio - I'd go for a run on the treadmill or do a spin class. Back then I had never lifted weights or even considered doing weights. Had you asked me what weight training was, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said "Um, the reason Hugh Jackman looks like wolverine." But when I decided I needed to lose weight and was told that one of the best ways to do this was through resistance training, I was A) dumbfounded and B) scared that I'd end up looking like a female version of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

I was dumbfounded as I, like most people, thought Ok to lose weight I need to be sweating it out doing hours and hours of cardio as that's how you burn calories fastest. I soon learnt that this was not the case. Incorporating some type of weight training and building up your lean muscle mass helps burn fat faster and will help you keep the weight off for the long term. Especially for women, weight training is extremely important. Unfortunately for us ladies, the men won the lottery in the muscle department and are naturally stronger and can retain thier musce easier so we need to work extra hard to maintain them.

Now resistance training doesn't have to be slogging it out at the gym lifting 50kg weights. I know how daunting the weights room of a gym can be with big buff guys in ther trying to out do each other with the amount they lift and their grunts. Weight training can be a variety of things, from body weight exercises that you can do at home (e.g lunges, squats, push-ups) to free weight exercises with dumbells or a barbell to machine weight exercises. It all depends upon your goals and what you want to achieve as to what weights you need to do. But for the average person, who wants to lose weight and increase their strength, even doing body weight exercises will help profousely.

Below are some of the numerous benefits that you will experience by doing weight training.

1. Increase muscle Mass - Doing resistance training 2-3 times a week helps to build up and sustain your muscles and muscle mass. From the age of 25, muscles start to atrophy (break down) by 1% per year, so doing resistance training helps to prevent and in some cases reverse this. Yes you may not think that 1% is a lot, but from 25-50 is 25 years so that's a 25% breakdown in your muscles.

2. Burn fat faster - Tying into the point above, an increase in muscle mass helps the body burn fat faster. Having leaner and stronger muscle turns the body into a better fat burning machine. That way you burn more fat even when you're sitting down at work or sleeping!! Who doesn't want to be burning fat sleeping.

3. Increase bone density - Doing some sort of resistance training is also great for your bone density. Providing your bones with some sort of resistance helps them to stay strong thus minimising your risk of fractures and breaks.

4. Helps ward off diseases such as osteporosis - Continuing on from the point above, building up and having strong bone density will also help ward off diseases such as osteoporosis as your bones aren't weak and brittle.

5. Helps get that toned look - Doing resistance training provides that definition within the muscles that gives your body that "toned" look that every women wants.

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