3 Ways Weightlifting Boosts Mental Health 

Weightlifting is a sport that involves lifting heavy barbells or dumbbells in two main lifts: the snatch and the clean and jerk.

These lifts test an athlete's strength, power, and technique. Weightlifting is also commonly used as a form of strength training in fitness and exercise programs.

This form of exercise has been experiencing a surge in popularity in recent years. The rise of social media platforms has allowed fitness enthusiasts and influencers to share their weightlifting journeys, workouts, and transformations with a broader audience, inspiring others to take up weightlifting.

Weightlifting has also seen a notable increase in female participants, challenging stereotypes that used to associate weightlifting predominantly with male athletes. More women have started to embrace strength training and its physical and mental health benefits.

So, what are the mental health benefits of weightlifting exactly?

Of course, strength training brings different benefits to each individual. It all depends on your unique experience and when you start engaging in weightlifting. With that said, there are a few common outcomes that people experience in their gym journeys. Keep reading to discover three key benefits.

1. Boosts Mood

One of the most often mentioned benefits of weightlifting is that it improves your mood.

There are many people who joke online that going to the gym is like therapy but with physical benefits. And that’s true for many reasons. For example, being able to stick to a routine and build habits is one way to boost your mood. Along with that, during a workout, endorphins get released into our body, our “feel-good” chemicals.

Going to a weightlifting class or working with a personal trainer is also a way to meet new people and engage in new friendships. Research has shown that our relationships are vital to mental health, having more power than genes, IQ, social class, money, or fame.

2. Reduces Stress and Anxiety

We live in a fast-paced world where we’re constantly overstimulated and bombarded with information.

And while some people thrive in this non-stop environment, for others, it can be too much to handle, leading to stress and anxiety.

Strength training is one way to deal with anxiety as it's proven to help naturally lower the levels of the hormone that leads to stress – cortisol. That’s because when we exercise, our body starts producing endorphins. Endorphins help you feel happier and calmer and are a natural pain reliever.

The term "endorphins" is a combination of "endogenous" (meaning originating within the body) and "morphine" (a powerful pain-relieving medication).

Lifting weights can be a productive way to release pent-up tension and stress, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.

3. Enhances Body Positivity and Self-Esteem

Social media exerts constant pressure on people to conform to certain appearance standards. Failing to meet these standards often results in self-consciousness and negative body image. Consequently, many people resort to training and view exercise as a means of compensating for food, potentially leading to harmful dieting and eating disorders.

In contrast, strength training offers a powerful solution by shifting the focus away from body aesthetics and toward physical performance.

Weightlifting, in particular, emphasizes what the body can achieve, rather than how it looks, making it an excellent avenue for enhancing body positivity and self-esteem.

This shift is especially transformative for women, who have traditionally perceived the gym as a place solely for improving appearance rather than building strength, power, or muscle. By altering their perspective from superficial aspects to substantial ones, such as their body's capabilities, they can experience both mental and physical improvements.

Strength training empowers individuals to appreciate their bodies for what they can accomplish, fostering a healthier relationship with their self-image.

In addition, weightlifting involves setting and achieving specific goals related to strength and fitness. As you progress and lift heavier weights, you can experience a sense of empowerment and increased self-confidence. This sense of achievement can extend to other areas of life, improving your overall self-esteem.

Of course, all this is contingent on following a training program specific to you. Your confidence levels and the way you feel about your body will only improve if the regimen you’re following is both achievable and in line with your individual goals.


Weightlifting is not just about picking up barbells and plates on the ground and gaining muscles; it can actually boost your mental health and wellbeing.

It can help you boost your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and enhance body positivity and self-esteem.

Having a consistent exercise routine, building habits, and meeting new people are just some of the aspects of regular training that can lead to you feeling better. And don’t forget the obvious physical benefits, such as gaining strength, agility, and endurance, which can lead to you feeling more confident in your body and its abilities. 

As with any form of exercise, it's essential to approach weightlifting with proper instruction, form, and safety considerations to avoid injuries and maximize the benefits. Why not book a personal training session at your local gym today and give it a go?

Interested in a self-guided program to help you build an exercise habit? The Mental Wellbeing Toolkit is "like 10 therapy sessions in one."
The Mental Wellbeing Toolkit


About Rebecca

Rebecca is the founder of The Wellness Society and author of two fluff-free books, The Framework and Understanding and Healing Trauma.

She's passionate about creating concise and compassionate mental health and wellbeing tools that address the root causes of distress.

Read more about her views on our About page.