Lifting weights isn’t just for bodybuilders, athletes or weekend warriors. A regular weight training routine can be very beneficial for strengthening bones and muscles.
Mary Arend, a personal trainer and Pilates instructor at ProMedica ForeverFit, says that weight training can help those who are hoping to decrease body fat, improve athletic performance and become physically stronger. A regular strength program can reduce risk of injury, back pain, arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. It may also help improve attitude and fight depression. One of the greatest benefits of weight training is that it can also help decrease the risk of osteoporosis.
“Weight bearing exercise and resistance training are crucial for preventing osteoporosis-related fractures and other injuries,” Arend says. “Not only can weight training improve bone density, it can also improve muscle mass, balance and connective tissue strength — all which decrease the risk of falling and breaking something.”
When you lift weights, it’s the larger bones that benefit the most. Arend shares that the spine, femur, hips and frame of the body are primarily affected. “Weight training typically affects the bones that take the most abuse.”
Starting Your Weight Training Routine
If you’ve been inactive for some time, or have never engaged in weight training exercises, Arend recommends starting small to prevent injury, and following these steps:
- Begin with dumbbells or resistance bands that weigh one to five pounds.
- Engage in 30 minutes of resistance-training activity each day. Try a mix of weight training and higher-impact activities, such as jogging, arc trainer, elliptical and step aerobics.
- As you grow stronger, increase the amount of weight you lift to maximize bone-building benefits.
Arend shares a few pointers for safe weightlifting:
- Talk with your primary care provider first. They can make help you create a plan that works with your capabilities and goals.
- Warm up properly to avoid injuries. Working out cold muscles can lead to sprains and tears.
- Use correct form when lifting. Stand straight, head over shoulders, over hips, over feet.
- Keep your abdominal muscles tight while weight training. Contract your abs as though you are being punched in the stomach, but don’t hold your breath. This will stabilize your pelvis and keep your knees over toes.
- Don’t do too much too soon. Learn the moves with bodyweight first. When you can do 15 reps with proper form, add weights.
- Work opposing muscles. For every front exercise, perform one for the back of the body. Balance is key.
- Consider Pilates to build stabilizers. Stabilizers are important muscles for the body and help support the bigger muscles, providing you a safer workout.