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Weight Workouts 101:
Part 2: Why Weight Train Anyhow?

Most people have heard that weight training is good for their health, but they don't really know the specifics. Just hearing that something is "good for you" isn't very inspiring, is it? So here are some details about the benefits of strength training:

(Article continued below.)

It keeps your body composition, hence your body, youthful.

When you are in your 20s, you have the best muscle to fat ratio you will ever have. With every additional decade, you gradually lose muscle mass and your percentage of fat to muscle increases - even if you don't gain any more weight. A 22-year-old, 130-pound woman may have a bodyfat percentage of 20 percent. At 42, she might still weigh 130, but her bodyfat percentage could very well have increased to 27 or 28 percent. What does this mean? She has less muscle and more fat in those 130 pounds. As a result, she's not as strong as she once was, she tires out a lot quicker, she looks less toned and - worst of all - it seems like she can hardly eat a thing if she wants to stay slim! Muscle burns way more calories than fat, so the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is. One of the main reasons younger adults have more energy is because they have more muscle - that's only logical. The whole purpose of weight training is to build and maintain muscle. If you are young, weight training will help you to hang onto your youth. If you aren't so young anymore, it will make your body and your energy level more youthful (and you won't gain weight as easily, either. In fact, weight workouts are one of the best ways to lose weight).

You're less likely to injure yourself.

Some people who shy away from weight training are worried they'll get hurt. Actually, it's just the opposite - weight training improves balance, posture and, of course, strength. You're less likely to trip and fall or strain your back. Strengthening the muscles around your joints will keep them healthy and help you avoid injury. Many people injure their knees, for example, because their leg muscles are not very strong. Building muscle takes some of the load off of your joints and this protects them.

It strengthens your bones.

Your body is constantly regenerating, building new cells. The regeneration process is another thing that slows down with the passing years. Weight training helps the regeneration process when it comes to your bones - the stress of the weight actually promotes bone growth. Studies have shown that weight training can ward off the bone loss suffered through osteoporosis. And it's never too late to start. Researchers have examined the effect of weight training on nursing home patients. When these very elderly people were put on a weight lifting program, did they break into a million pieces? Just the opposite! They became stronger and more active. Weight training benefits are eternal.

It strengthens your soul.

The same researchers also discovered that those nursing home patients were less depressed and became more outgoing and sociable. When you feel stronger and more able to take care of yourself, you are able to view life in a more positive manner. This is especially true for women - a little bit of strength can give you a wonderful sense of empowerment. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to change that five-gallon Sparkletts bottle without asking for help, or to unload all the groceries for a Thanksgiving dinner without feeling totally exhausted? Knowing that you can take care of yourself is a great feeling, and on top of that, you'll look better too! Men also have real, day-to-day benefits - imagine gaining the power to finally beat your pal at tennis or being able to keep up with your teenage son on a hike... not to mention having a muscular physique at, literally, any age (don't believe me on that one? Look at Jack LaLanne).

There are many more benefits to weight training, but the bottom line is you will look and feel better in dozens of ways. And if you do it properly, it should be a pleasure, not a chore. Following are some guidelines on equipment and approach to get you started in the right direction.

Next page >> Necessary Tools for Weight Workouts >> Page 1, 2, 3, 4

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