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Strong is the new skinny

Forget bulging biceps and thunderous thighs, we're talking weight loss, lean muscle mass and healthy bones - er, yes please!

The hottest thing in fitness right now is weight training – and for good reason. It’ll increase your muscle tone and definition, build strength and fitness, and improve endurance. If you want to look and feel great – weight lifting will get you there.

But weight training is not body building, so forget bulging biceps and thunderous thighs. For women, who have lower levels of testosterone than men, it won’t mean an increase in muscle size and bulk.

I’m a recent convert to weight training and I’m now the proud owner of a growing collection of dumbbells and kettlebells. Oh, and a foam roller. My introduction came via a 28-day Lift Lean programme offered by Warlingham-based trainer Lindsay Williams of Total Body Fitness.

The Lift Lean programme includes nutritional advice alongside a daily training schedule, and – overcome with a rare but serious bout of self-control – I stuck fairly rigidly to it with the result that after 28 days I not only lost some of those Christmas inches, but I also felt fitter and stronger.

Here are nine reasons why you should start limber up and get pumping…

1. BETTER POSTURE

Weight training will strengthen muscles in the back, shoulders and core which will help to improve your posture. And if you suffer from lower back pain, you’ll also benefit from as stronger back and core.

2. EASIER LIFE

Stronger muscles helps with every day activities such as lifting, pulling and moving heavy objects. In addition to increasing muscular strength, weight training also builds strength in connective tissues and joints – which means we’re more able to complete daily tasks and exercise without injury.

3. BURN MORE CALORIES

Weight training raises your metabolism for up to 24 hours after a workout – so you’ll not only burn calories during your workout, but you’ll continue burning them after your workout as well.

4. BETTER BONES

Weight training can help prevent osteoporosis and increase bone density. As we get older our bone mass decreases. But the good news is that lifting weights will increase bone density, which cuts down the risk of broken bones.

5. FIRM AND SHAPE

Weight training works your muscles – and this results in more definition and shape. So say goodbye to that muffin top and hello waistline.

6. BETTER SLEEP

Studies show that not only does weight training make it easier to fall asleep, it also improves the quality of sleep and the length. Tick, tick and tick.

7. STRESS LESS

Exercise in general is a great way to manage stress, and weight training is no different. If you need to blow off some steam, hit the weights. The endorphins released when we train naturally reduce stress and anxiety. And research shows that people who exercise regularly have lower levels of stress hormones than those who don’t.

8. HEALTHY HEART

Research has shown that regular weight training makes for a healthier heart, reducing the risk of a stroke and the chance of a heart attack.

9. LOVE LIFE

Lifting weights releases those wonderful endorphins that gives us an energy boost, stimulates the mind and improves our mood – all of these help set us up for older age, keeping us mentally and physically stronger. And when you’re happy with how you look and feel – you feel better about everything.

The next Total Body Fitness Lift Lean programme starts on 3 March. totalbodyfitness4u.co.uk

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