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Unrecognizable sweaty woman doing back exercises with barbell.© Getty

6 reasons I love weight training – that have nothing to do with how I look

I started strength training at Dabbs Fitness in January and it's changed so much more than how I look

Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
June 5, 2024
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Back in January, I started weight training.

I've tried exercise classes with strength training elements before, mainly Les Mills Body Pump and classes at Barry's Bootcamp, which I always loved, but when I walked into Dabbs Fitness in Mayfair and was met by a sign that read, "Training, not exercise," I knew I was about to be introduced to a whole new world.

My training sessions at Dabbs Fitness never have more than eight people booked in (though you can opt for one-on-one sessions too), meaning you get personalised input from their expert trainers.

black and white photo inside a gym
Dabbs Fitness is about training, not exercise

The personal touch 

At first, I worried this would be intimidating. I like to be able to hide at the back of a class behind 20 other people, but by my second session, I was excited about the individual attention we received – and felt miffed when I booked into other gym classes and was surrounded by people.

My weight training sessions at Dabbs Fitness feel more like personal training appointments than a group session, with guidance on every move to ensure you're nailing it - and constantly improving. 

Seeing results

After my first booking at the gym, I asked James Dabbs, the gym's founder, when I might expect to see results and he was refreshingly realistic. "It's about the 23 hours per day you spend outside of the gym, as much as the one hour you spend here," he told me, adding that I could start feeling stronger relatively quickly, within a few weeks.

Inside the gym at Dabbs Fitness
Inside the gym at Dabbs Fitness

As for looking stronger, that came down to me, how often I booked in, and if I looked after myself nutritionally (which Dabbs Fitness is also on hand to support with, offering guidance on supplements and nutrition).

The benefits of weight training

The most obvious health benefit of weight training is that it makes you stronger, meaning performing daily tasks is easier, but weight training also helps us to burn calories more efficiently.

While you might imagine a sweaty cardio session is best for torching calories, weight training is fundamental as it can support your metabolism.

two people posing in front of the sea
Showing off my growing muscles on holiday

Building muscle helps you burn calories faster at rest, plus you continue burning calories for hours after your workout.

That said, I didn't start weight training to change how I look, and the benefits I have found from lifting weights have changed my life so much more than what I see in the mirror.

Here's what I've discovered…

1. I'm a better runner

I'm not a particularly strong runner, and a 5KM at Park Run is my favourite route, but my local event is extremely hilly and since I started training at Dabbs Fitness, I am so much better at tackling the hills on the course.

Smiling young woman jogging near lake on sunny day© Getty
Running is so much easier now that I'm stronger

Weight training strengthens our muscles and joints, and I no longer find my legs killing me after running up inclines.

2. I'm part of a community

I used to enjoy the anonymity of gym classes, booking sessions that allowed me to hide at the back and scurry out once the session was finished, but one of my favourite things about Dabbs Fitness is that I go often enough, in small groups, that the trainers can keep track of the weights I'm lifting. I feel genuinely proud when they notice I'm lifting heavier than the previous week, or when they slot another weight onto my bar, telling me they know I can lift it.

black and white photo inside a gym
Weight training gives me a sense of accomplishment

3. I want to live a healthier life

Now that I'm working hard at weight training, I've noticed how much what I eat impacts my workouts. If I know I have a session booked the next day, I avoid wine the night before – because what's the point of feeling rubbish and impacting the workout I enjoy so much?

4. I feel like I'm investing in my future

I work with a lot of menopause experts, and speak to a lot of women who say weight training helped them through perimenopause and beyond, and while that's a way off for me yet, starting now can only be a good thing for my future.

"Not only is resistance training essential for our bone health and muscle mass during menopause, it has a whole range of other benefits too," explains menopause training specialist Caroline Idiens.

Resistance training using weights builds arm strength© Poberezhna
Weight training is crucial in menopause

"Lifting weights can help with menopause weight gain by raising our metabolism as well as improvising our posture, and it has a huge impact on our mental wellbeing at a time when we may feel more stress and anxiety too."

 5. I can see my progress

I've been booking into spin classes for over five years, and while I know they improve my endurance, it's hard to tell if I'm really making any progress.

With weight training, I noticed after a couple of weeks that I could add more to my bar, and the sense of pride I feel when my trainer encourages me to load up leaves me grinning when I walk out of the studio.

A friend of mine got into weight training after she had a baby and felt like she'd never regain her pre-baby fitness levels. Weightlifting was new to her, and she quickly saw her progress, which was super motivating when trying to get back into exercise after an extended break.

RELATED: Why exercise can make you feel like yourself again - no mum guilt allowed 

6. I'm stronger

The most obvious benefit of all – I feel stronger than I ever have and I'm proud every time I add a little more weight onto my barbell. Even the smallest weight plate added is worth recognition, and that's enough to motivate me to keep up my training. 

 Find out more about Dabbs Fitness

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