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Weight Training: More Than Just Muscle


Weight training has historically been associated as a more masculine activity; in my experience, women are less keen to pick up the weights for fear of ‘bulking’ up, which is a common misconception and can be a off-putting to picking up those weights.


Thankfully, society has moved on from the unhealthy notion that women are to be thin, slight, agreeable and non-threatening. Now more of us are realising the benefits of incorporating weights and resistance.

Regardless of your gender; resisitance and training has an array of benefits.


Bone Health


A main proponent of weight training is that it is strengthens, via 'loading', your bones. This is particularly pertinent to women, as biologically, estrogen levels drop around menopause and the rate of bone formation decreases. There is a body of knowledge supporting weight training to prevent Osteoporosis, the decline in bone density typically begins at 50 years old. Your bone density at the age of 30 may be indicative of your bone density in later life.


In short, as we weight train, we are loading the muscle and in turn effectively ‘pulling’ at the bone where the tendon inserts. This stimulates bone creation in a process called ‘Osteogenesis’ by bone cells called Osteoblasts (not a band name but should be). This is known as the Piezoelectric effect. As, ever, moderation is key as outlined in this paper highlighting how weight training too often can have a negative effect on hormonal balance (copy and paste the link for the full article).


https://www.scielo.br/j/rbme/a/ppVRtw7VXmLF8ZyG3zrVRQp/?lang=en&format=pdf



Immunity


It seems obvious that weight training builds strength, but it also improves our immunity. Exercise including cardio and resistance training mediates the immune response. Our immune systems are responsive to ‘stress’ induced through movement and exercise. We need to expose ourselves to stress in order to become more tolerant and adaptive as suggested in this study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6038656/.


It is important to note again, that moderation is key. If you are unwell, recoverying from illness/injury or just not feeling up to a strenuous session then skip it or take a gentle stroll or chilled out yoga session. Rest is just as important as movement! Which leads me to my next point...



Embodiment


Ahhh my favourite word. To be embodied, is to be in tune with your body and to respond intuitively, which may mean making a call between that extra hour of sleep or exercising.


Mindful movement, spiritualism and/or embodiment is not exclusive to Yoga, many people will argue with me on this, suggesting exercising outside the parameters of Yoga cannot be good for your soul or ego. That you must appear ‘spiritual’ for it to intrinsically be ‘spiritual’. A good friend of mine once gave me sound advice - if you truly embody a practice, you don’t need to prove how embodied/spiritual/mindful it is, or dress or speak in a particular manner to convey how transcendent you are. I feel quite strongly that any exercise can become medicine for our mind . So long as it helps build our confidence, self-esteem and improve our relationship with ourselves and others and thus our ability to learn what we need on any given day.


When I started incorporating weights into my practice, I felt clumsy and not very strong. I got such a buzz when I went from 1kg to 3kg (in a Jazzercise class I have to add) which gave me the confidence to start lifting a 10kg bar gradually adding 40kg then 50kg in a deadlift which by the way is on the most beneficial exercises you can do (under guidance; technique is everything).



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