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The benefits of weight training
Many people use weight training to build strength. Being strong is helpful and important in our day-to-day lives. It’s nice to be able to pick up our kids or move furniture around without hurting ourselves.
Weight training can also build confidence. You may want bigger muscles or more definition. Maybe you want the area under your upper arms to stop waving good-bye at the same time your hand does. Whatever the reason, weights can help us look our best.
The most important benefit, and the main reason I use weights, is because weight training builds bone density. This means if you make weights a part of your life, you’re less likely to get osteoporosis. Your bones will stay strong enough to withstand a fall or even a sneeze (yes, in severe osteoporosis cases, a sneeze poses an actual risk). Fellow mamas, we already have enough to worry about when we sneeze; no need to add another.
Therefore, weight training is integral to aging gracefully. As you may know from my morning and evening beauty routines, I’m all about aging well. I was never a person to pick up weights, but when I learned about this particular benefit, there was no going back.
Lifting light vs. heavy
Weight training and I didn’t get off to a good start.
When I first moved into New York City after college, I signed up for a gym membership, which came with a private training package. The trainer kept giving me heavy weights, and I hated both the workout and how tight my clothes were getting despite not changing anything else in my life. After the package was finished, I quit seeing the trainer and would only go to the gym for the elliptical and yoga. I enjoyed working out again, and my body composition went back to normal. I assumed weight training wasn’t for me.
Around this time, ballet barre hit the fitness scene and Gwyneth Paltrow was getting a lot of attention for her post-baby Iron Man physique, which she attributed to her trainer Tracy Anderson. I decided to try both the Tracy Anderson Method and Physique 57, which was one of the first NYC studios to gain popularity in the ballet barre world. Even though both workouts included weights, I was shocked to discover how much I enjoyed them. I felt stronger and gained muscle tone without the bulk I experienced with the trainer.
The difference was Tracy and Physique used light weights, usually between 1 and 5 pounds. This was radically different than the personal trainer’s approach. It’s not that either approach is right or wrong; it’s what was right or wrong for me. My goal has never been about being big and muscular, but more about being the best version of me. I was born with fine bones and a petite frame. Therefore, light weights suit my fitness goals better.
The lucky thing is, light weights are equally effective in maintaining our bone density so in the case of bone health, more isn’t more. This means whatever feels right for you, whether lifting heavy or light, is perfect.
Weights are for everyone
There are many ways to incorporate weights into your life. I love ankle weights, which can also be fastened around the palms. Tracy Anderson introduced me to this in her workouts, but I include them in ballet barre and yoga flows as well. Having a pair of free weights or dumbbells is also a great option. I have a three pound set and add in some arm work to a lot of my workouts.
When it comes to working out, we all have our preferences. Some people are ride-or-die (Peloton pun not intended) for their “thing”. A person might be a “runner” or a “yogi” and may think weights aren’t their “thing”. If this is you, I hope I’ve convinced you to branch out. Just like our stock portfolios, diversity in our fitness programs is key to overall health.
How do weights factor into your workout routine?