3 Reasons Why You Should Add Lifting Weights to Your Workout

I started this semester with an ankle injury that kept me from running. Instead, I spent the first month-and-a-half of the year biking and lifting—two things I’d never thought I’d end up enjoying. For the past five years, running has been my go-to exercise. There’s something meditative about running outside, with the world going about its business as you lope through it. It feels nice to know that all you need to run is a pair of shoes and working legs.

However, I’ve also developed a fondness for lifting in these last two months. What first felt like an embarrassing slog through a list of exercises that reminded me how much of an uncoordinated klutz I was became a streamlined, meditative routine that has drastically increased my confidence.

Here, then, are my three main reasons why everyone should add lifting to your workout routine:

1.  It’s Good For You!

There’s a reason I was allowed to start lifting before I could start running. If you’re coming off of an injury, you can tailor your weight-lifting workouts to either strengthen that weaker part or build other areas while also letting your body heal.

Many workouts can be low-impact or completed while seated, so you can definitely make these workouts work for you. Finally, you don’t always need weights or exercise equipment: core workouts are especially easy to do just about anywhere.

Weight lifting has all kinds of general health benefits, as well. Strength exercises help build bone density, improve joints, and strengthen muscle (duh). Additionally, building muscle also helps you burn fat and improves heart health.

2.  It Can Be Meditative

Like other forms of exercise, weightlifting can be another way for you to relax mentally. In my experience, weightlifting works similarly to running in that it provides an alternative task for your mind to work on. Focusing on technique, breathing, and your muscles distracts from other annoying or anxiety-inducing thoughts.

Additionally, this could also be an opportunity to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. Taking the time out of your day to both exercise and listen to something you find enjoyable can thus have twofold benefits on your health. I personally find that some days, the quiet workouts without earphones can be just as calming and distracting from stressful thoughts—we don’t always have to have voices running around in our heads, and lifting can be a productive alternative to relieve stress.

 

3.  You Will Feel Stronger—In All Kinds of Ways

The most obvious benefit of weightlifting is the development of muscle. In the last three months, my technique and strength have improved drastically. Since returning to running, I’ve noticed that my arms and legs don’t feel as tired during workouts, and my posture and technique are also better. I feel stronger.  

But I also feel stronger. When I’ve attempted to lift in years past, I remember feeling embarrassed, uncomfortable with my body’s unfamiliarity with the movements. I felt like people were watching me, judging my awkward form as I struggled with weights they picked up with ease. However, muscling through—pun intended—my physical and emotional discomfort made me more confident in myself as both an athlete and a woman.

The stereotypical image of a person lifting weights is a couple of jacked jocks grunting over massive barbells. The reality (at least in my experience) is that aside from team workouts, many lifters work alone or in pairs, sharing the space with other lifters. It is an individual effort. And it doesn’t matter how strong you look to other people. It’s how strong you feel—or know you will feel in the future.

 

Image Credits: Feature, 1, 2