You will hear it referred to as weightlifting, pumping iron, resistance training, strength training, or bodybuilding.
Whatever the name you use, lifting weights as an exercise has long been a great way to get in shape and stay in shape. Weight lifting or weight training has many health benefits for both men and women. There are weight lifting and weight-training routines appropriate for men, woman, even children of any age, any size, and any body type. If you want to build muscle mass, increase stamina, improve cardiac function, or even stave off the symptoms of osteoporosis - you can accomplish all of that and so much more by adding a good weight training routine to your regular workout.
To get the most health benefit out of lifting weights, you need to combine your weight training with some other type of exercise.
If you are not already doing some kind of aerobic or cardio workout everyday, you must do this in addition to weight lifting. It also is not healthy to just start your weight lifting workout without a proper warm up.
Of course before starting any workout routine, check with your doctor. Prior to starting you weight lifting workout you need to "get the blood moving" and your muscles primed for some heavy lifting. Just before hitting the weights do a good ten minutes on a bicycle, take a short jog, or jump rope. Do a few legs and arm stretches as well. The key to successful weight training involves what are called repetitions. In weight lifting, unless you are training for some sort of power lifting competition, of course, it is not so important how much you lift, but how many times you can lift the weight. A proper weight lifting routine will be designed to work out all of the major muscle groups of the body, which include: The Shoulders, Neck and Back, Biceps, Triceps, Quadriceps Chest, Abs, Hamstrings, Calves, and of course the Gluteus.
The next question on your mind is likely to be "should I use free weights or machines?" and "how much weight should I work out with?" You can use free weights or machines or maybe a little of both. If you are working out in a gym, of course they will have both and will likely be able to recommend a "circuit" of weight lifting exercises for you. If you intend to lift weights at home, much will depend on your budget and physical space to determine of you want to buy a "Home Gym" type resistance trainer such as Bowflex - or a good set of free weights and barbells - or perhaps even both.
Weight machines are often valuable for beginners because they have been designed to work a specific muscle or muscle group, and will insure that you are seated or standing in the right position to target that group when you lift. Also, there is less chance of injury as there may be with free weights.
Free weights are the traditional barbells and dumbbells that have been around for centuries, and they work great. In fact some would argue that once you learn how to use them properly you get a better workout than machines because it is only the force of your muscles and your ability to balance the weight that keeps the weight and your muscles moving properly. There is no aid from the machine, so you are effectively using more muscle with free weights.
Lifting weights can improve both strength and stamina. Lifting weights builds muscle and confidence. Done properly, it can improve cardiovascular health and can actually help prevent other sports injuries, and lifting weights can help you lose those extra pounds and keep them off.
So what are you "weighting" for? Come on - get pumping!