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The Surprising Ways Lifting Weights Will Change Your Life

02/03/2015 07:30 am ET | Updated Apr 05, 2015

Because of the way "meatheads" and "gym bros" are portrayed in popular culture, weight lifting and even gym culture in general seems pretty intimidating, especially to newcomers who are unfamiliar with the environment.

Yes, the gym, and especially the weight section, can be an intimidating place, but the benefits that you can gain from strength training by way of lifting weights, are way too incredible to pass up just because you're worried about what a group of "muscle-y" gym members might think.

In fact, if you pay a visit to the weight section of your gym you'll most likely find yourself among a diverse group of members. Yes, there will be some "bulky" guys lifting heavy weights, but you'll probably also encounter other men and women of all different shapes, sizes, and abilities.

And if you join them by deciding to begin a regular weight lifting program, you'll begin to reap countless health benefits such as reduced body fat, a decreased risk for heart disease, and decreased blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Plus, what many people don't realize about lifting weights is that in addition to the physical benefits you'll gain, it has the ability to expand your life in so many other ways.

Here are just a few of the ways you might see your life improve when you start lifting weights.

  • 1 Lifting weights can improve your focus.
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    “In today’s world we're bombarded by social media, workloads, and a constant to do list,” says personal trainer, health coach, and nutrition expert Susannah VanWinkle. “In the gym, you learn to leave it all behind and have one singular goal -- progress.”
  • 2 Lifting weights can improve your body image.
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    Ragen Chastain, a plus-size fitness professional, dance champion, marathoner, and Ironman triathlete in-training says that lifting weights can help shift the focus of your body image from size to ability. In other words, instead of focusing on your weight or the size of your waist, you’ll begin to better appreciate your body for its strength and what it can do. “This can be especially true for plus-sized people, myself included, who were warned against lifting weights because of the fear that it would ‘bulk us up’,” she said. “In truth, when we focus on actual fitness instead of body size, more muscle can mean more ease in moving our bodies, and better relationships with our bodies and with exercise.”
  • 3 Lifting weights can improve athletic performance.
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    “Lifting weights can improve performance for someone who has hit a plateau in their chosen discipline,” says Chastain. “Whether they are a runner, cyclist, volleyball player, or wrestler—there are so many different techniques in weight lifting, it's not just about building strength. Programs can be built to help with a number of goals whether it's strength, balance, speed, mobility, or something else.”
  • 4 Lifting weights can improve your confidence.
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    “There's something about strength training that makes you feel, well… Strong,” says Laura Williams, founder of Girls Gone Sporty and an ACSM-HFS certified fitness professional. “And that feeling of inner strength -- that your muscles are growing, you're developing definition, and you're boosting your metabolism -- all of those work together as a powerful confidence-booster.”
  • 5 Lifting weights can improve your bone strength.
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    “Strength training isn't just good for the muscles,” Williams added. “It's good for the bones. Weight bearing exercise, particularly closed-circuit exercises like squats, lunges, and pushups, place stress on the bones in a way that stimulates osteoblast activity and bone growth.”

-Katie Rosenbrock, The Active Times