When it comes to fitness, celebrity trainer Ben Lucas has a wealth of knowledge under his belt. From training the likes of Sammy Robinson to Erin Holland, the multi-marathon runner and gym owner is here to tell you, girls should be lifting. But don’t take our word, read below for his pro tips!
The national guidelines recommend that we engage in muscle-strengthening at least twice a week, which for many may not be a regular practice. Unfortunately, a common misconception of weight training is that women will bulk up, which is a fallacy I want to correct. There are a lot of benefits to lifting weights and it should be something we incorporate into our exercise routines.
When we lift weights, the body responds to a type of metabolic stress which means we continue to burn calories for up to 48 hours after a session. Repetitive sessions also increase your ability to burn fat. Weights also help preserve muscle mass and counteract effects from cardio which tend to reduce muscle mass.
Incorporating weights is like health insurance for women. As women approach menopause, the hormone oestrogen, which protects the health of bones, is reduced. However, by engaging in weight training can women help prevent the risk of osteoporosis occurring later in life. Essentially, when the bones are put under a physical loading, key bone cells, such as osteocytes are stimulated and information is transmitted to form new bone cells called osteoblasts. Bone reabsorption, i.e. bone loss, is also decreased when we put out bones under physical loading.
If you also like cardio exercise, such as running, you may find yourself losing muscle mass, which can actually reduce your ability to burn as many calories. Strength training may also help build your resilience against running fatigue where you rely on your core to support your body. Complementing with weight training helps to maintain muscle mass and won’t affect the potential to drop calories. Strength training can also be beneficial for exercises like yoga, which uses a lot of balance poses that draws on muscles to hold them.
When practiced correctly, lifting weights relies on alignment and activation of the right muscles to perform the lift. Weights involve using core muscles so you don’t compromise joints in performing a lift. The nature of this helps you become more aware of your core muscles and therefore improves your posture, which a lot of it stems from your abdominal muscles.
When we put our body under physical stress, such as weight training, the process actually helps to better regulate metabolic activities. This action contributes to building stress resistance and thus improves sleep. In addition, due to muscle growth and the continuous burning of calories, the body is able to improve the quality of sleep due to overall fatigue. Furthermore, we know that exercise releases endorphins which contributes to improved mood. But also, the area in our brain responsible for our emotions is the amygdala, which if sleep-deprived can result in a more sensitive response to negative events. Hence, emphasising the beneficial role of exercise for sleep and also mood.
By Ben Lucas, PT & Director of Flow Athletic