Here's Why 2023 Is the Year You Lift Weights
We’re calling it: 2023 is the year of lifting weights — particularly for women. And if you’ve been a part of the Fit Body community for a while, congrats! You’re already ahead of the game. If you haven’t started weight lifting yet, no worries. There’s no time like now!
But starting something new can be daunting. What exercises do you do? How much weight should you lift? Will you get bulky? And… isn’t cardio enough to stay healthy?
Take a breath. Regardless of whether you’re brand new to strength training or have been doing it for a while, there are eight weight-lifting programs in the Fit Body app that will guide you through everything you need to know — from your warm-up to your lifts to your post-workout fuel.
Why are we so amped on weight lifting? Here are our top seven reasons we want YOU (and everyone you know) to start lifting weights ASAP.
1. It May Help You Live Longer (and Healthier)
If you’re looking for the fountain of youth, look no further than your weight rack. Sure, that may be over-hyping things just a bit, but a September 2022 study in the British Medical Journal produced some compelling evidence of the effect weight lifting has on longevity.
This observational study of 100,000 people over 10 years (quite significant for a fitness study!) found that people who lifted weights just one or twice a week had a 9% lower risk of dying from any cause (except cancer), compared to those who didn’t exercise. That jumped to 41% for those who added cardio into the mix. And women benefited significantly more than men!
Excuse us while we go pick up a barbell…
2. It Boosts Metabolism
Previously, weight-loss experts touted cardio as the best way to burn calories and lose weight. And while cardio may burn the most calories during your workouts, it turns out that strength training is the better option for an increased metabolism.
A June 2015 study in the Journal of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport found that resistance training boosted participants’ resting metabolic rate 12 hours and 21 hours after exercise, when compared to steady-state cardio. (You may have heard this called the “afterburn effect.”) That means you’re burning calories even after your workout ends! Even more reason to properly fuel your muscles after a strength-training session.
3. It Can Result in Fat Loss
Thanks to that boost in resting metabolic rate, you’re also in prime position to lose body fat (if that’s one of your goals). As described above, your body continues to burn calories after a weight-lifting or HIIT session as it works to get all your systems back to baseline functioning.
So, if you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning (boosted by resistance training), your body burns fat. That may or may not result in weight loss, but what it will result in is a body-composition shift, meaning you just might notice your clothes fitting more loosely.
And while cardio can also help reduce body fat, if you’re comparing them minute-for-minute, a December 2014 study in the journal Obesity reports that resistance training has a greater effect on age-related abdominal fat than cardio does.
4. It Improves Mental Health and Mood
After the past three years we’ve had of dealing with… everything, we could all stand to nurture our mental health. And one of the ways you can do that is through focusing on your physical health.
A May 2018 study in JAMA Psychiatry (among other research) found that weight lifting reduced the frequency and severity of depressive symptoms and anxiety. Plus, the endorphins and endocannabinoids (aka feel-good chemicals) it produces helps boost your overall mood.
5. It Increases Self-Confidence
Speaking of a mood boost, lifting weights can also help improve your self-confidence. When you lift weights consistently, you feel strong and capable — both in the gym and outside it. And the body-composition changes that often occur only compound the effect.
When you feel that you’re strong and you’re proud of how your body looks and moves, your confidence soars!
6. It Strengthens Muscles
It may seem obvious that lifting weights helps strengthen your muscles, but here’s why that’s super important. Let’s say you’re doing biceps curls. The muscles in your arms have to work harder than usual against gravity to raise the dumbbell from your thighs to your shoulders, forcing them to get stronger.
That also means that things like lifting a box from the floor, picking up your kids or moving furniture become easier (and you’re less likely to get hurt). But, of course, this also assumes you’re working more than just your upper arms. After all, very few things in life involve using just one muscle.
And even more good news: You don’t have to lift for months and months to notice these effects. An August 2020 study in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity concluded that older adults could significantly improve their full-body strength after 16 hour-long resistance workouts. That’s just over a month if you’re doing three weight-lifting workouts a week.
7. It Improves Bone Health
This one is especially important for women, who lose more bone mass starting earlier than men. They’re four times more likely than men to have osteoporosis and twice as likely to fracture or a bone as they get older, according to a July 2011 study in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.
But how is strength training — which focuses on your muscles — improve bone health? When you contract and extend a muscle while lifting weights, it places stress on the tendons that connect it to the bone. The bone responds to this tension by getting stronger. And increasing the load over time only makes them stronger (just like muscles), per Wolff’s Law.