Why you should take up weightlifting

Anyone who knows me knows I like a bit of Olympic Weightlifting.  The two lifts in the sport are the snatch and the clean and jerk.  I’m not very good at either but I enjoy learning and I really love watching people who are much better at it than I am.  It can also be very good for you and, having done some research, I am keen to share some of the many benefits lifting weights can bring. 

First, let’s dispel a handful of myths:

  • Children shouldn’t lift as it will stunt their growth – there is a huge amount of research which shows that there is no truth in this statement, provided that the correct techniques and attention to appropriate loading are applied.  With careful tuition from an experienced coach, adolescents and young adults can strengthen their bones and muscles and reap the rewards of this long into their adult lives. 
  • As a female lifting will make you bulky – this is almost never true.  If you look at our GB Women’s weightlifting team none of them are bulky.  Women simply don’t have the testosterone levels to “bulk up”.
  • You shouldn’t lift as an older person – once again research shows that lifting weights in middle age, and beyond, can be hugely beneficial.  People of all ages can strengthen their bones and muscles by engaging in weight bearing exercise.

There are so many arguments for picking up a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell.  I could probably run into several pages.  But I will list just a few of the compelling reasons for giving the classic Olympic lifts a go:

  • Weightlifting brings about an increase in muscle mass, making you stronger and more able to function in daily life. 
  • The increase in muscle mass means you will burn more calories and are likely to burn more fat (particularly if you engage in a reasonable amount of healthy eating too).
  • Lifting weights raises your metabolic rate for longer than cardio.  So, you burn calories for longer.  You can work out for the same amount of time but reap more benefit.  What’s not to like?
  • There is an excellent transfer into other sport from Olympic lifting as it is all about power.  So, for example, rugby players and sprinters can make tangible improvements in their performance by including it in their training regime.  As the IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) website states “Olympic Weightlifting has no equal for developing speed, flexibility and coordinated, total body strength and muscle”.
  • The technical aspects of the sport can help to develop mental and motor skills. This can be beneficial at any age and stage of life.

I really could go on ad nauseum but I will stop here and just say that, as well as being huge fun and a massive challenge, weightlifting is jolly good for you.  My one recommendation would be to find a good coach who can show you how to lift with correct technique.  And if Olympic lifting all sounds a bit too much then why not get yourself down to your local gym to give some more general weight training a go?  You really won’t regret it.