15 Reasons why you should be lifting weights!
Lifting weights and resistance training in general are a big part of our usual prescription to Apex clients. We believe ‘lifting’ is an integral part of any fitness regime, and below I will share with you my 15 top reasons to get in the gym and lift some iron.
To look sexy
I obviously started with the most important reason lol! In all seriousness though, no training can ‘shape’ your body like weight training. Lifting weights progressively, over time, will help you completely change your body. When we lift we cause a mechanism called hypertrophy (simply growing muscle) – for most people additional muscle added to your frame will be a big positive. Ladies you won’t get ‘big and bulky’ and guys you won’t either – its not that easy (unfortunately) however, you will get tighter, firmer, more defined and have more shape/curves.
The 300lbs, striated muscle monster you’re thinking about has put in decades of hard work – as well as in most cases some ‘additional supplementation’ (not available at myprotein) to achieve their physique. So don’t be concerned about ripping out of your clothes and having to have the front door on your house altered just yet.
To be strong
Being strong is awesome! People who regularly ‘lift’ can enjoy all the benefits of being strong. This isn’t just rewarding in the gym when they hit new PRs or impressing gym bae’s, it also has huge carry over into their everyday life. Suddenly the kids or grandkids don’t weigh a ton to pick up anymore, you only need one trip from the car to the kitchen with your shopping, you can walk up the stairs, climb out of the bath and basically say YES to way more things.
Strength facilitates so much day to day and allows us to participate in a range of activities from the mundane to the exciting without fear of injury.
To burn fat
Weight training as well as aerobic training will have a great benefit on fat loss from the body – especially when paired with a calorie deficit. The main benefit in resistance training is that alongside its ability to help burn fat it can also build muscle (yes potentially even in a deficit) or at the very least is muscle sparing. What this means is as you exercise and lose fat you’re gaining or maintaining muscle, which will have a favourable outcome on your aesthetics. See point number 1 but basically you are more likely to look #ripped #shredded #lean than potentially looking #skinnyfat L
To improve body comp
The above two points join together to create point 4 – improved body composition. What this means is a positive swing in the amount of body fat vs muscle mass on your body. Weight training will help make this as favourable as possible, not only meaning you will look better, but also you will benefit from improved power to weight ratio, performance and well being.
The very fact that you now have more muscle and less fat on your body will help you burn more calories day to day by increasing your basal metabolic rate. Now this number of extra calories is often widely exaggerated in some circles, its not going to likely net you 1000s of extra burnt calories however, it will still be a lot better than fat mass. In his book ‘Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition and Human Performance’ William McArdle offers this as a guide to muscle vs fat in terms of calories burnt:
Muscles burn 5.5 times more calories than fat tissues, which burn about 1.2 calories per pound per hour.
I know what I would rather be composed of…
To fight sarcopenia
Sarcopenia is the annual loss of muscle, strength, power and function related to aging. It is essentially a degenerative disease that slowly makes you weaker and less independent and can potentially lead to disability. But that’s for 80 year olds right? Nope –an annual loss in lean muscle tissue can start as soon as you hit your 30s!
Fuck!! How do we stop this from happening?
Simple really, you guessed it – Weight training. Lifting weights has been shown not only to halt, but actually reverse the effects of sarcopenia. I can testify to having experienced this first hand with a plethora of middle-aged clients, adding muscle and significant strength when starting to lift.
Weight training d has been shown in several studies as a useful tool in combating the build up of stress. One study from 1993 showed
“Resistance exercise using weight puts a heavy strain on the muscles, and can produce more endorphins in a faster period of time than cardio exercise. Certain strength-training exercises (compound) produce more endorphins than others” Luis M. Alvidrez and Len Kravitz, Ph.D., of the University of New Mexico.
Endorphins aside, for a lot of people weight training is simply a great way to exert some anger, tension and frustration in a safe and productive fashion. Alongside this, it is often a dedicated period of time not thinking or overthinking about your daily trials and tribulations and thus can serve as a great mental respite.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes weakening of the bones and leads to them becoming brittle. This in turn can cause bony fractures, most often occurring in the elderly in the spine, forearms and hip. In the UK alone it is estimated there are over 3 million sufferers, with the disease being about 4 times more common in (post menopausal) females.
Weight training has been shown to be an excellent tool in keeping bones strong and indeed, in some cases, building new bone. Not only this but weight training helps build and strengthen the supporting musculature of the skeletal system, making for more robust bones and joints.
Improve sporting performance
Anyone who plays sport will benefit from weight training. Regular weight training is an integral part of all serious athletes’ training regime and has been shown countless times to improve athletic performance. Whether you need jumping height, running speed, punching power, or anything in between, strength will give you the edge.
Now of course skill as well as tactics are arguably the two biggest factors in determining successful outcome, however as you’ve heard before if these factors are closely matched then attributes become critical and perhaps none so much as strength.
I quite simply summarise this to anyone competing as ‘would you like to be stronger than your opponent or not?’
You have probably been advised at some point that being more ‘flexible’ is a good idea, and within reason it probably is, however, is it useful to be flexible if you have no ability to express strength through a complete range of motion…probably less so.
Let me give you an example – if you squat heavy, to good depth and practice to have good form, decent strength and use full R.O.M then you will have great mobility in your hips, knees, back, ankles and shoulders. Not only that but you will be STRONG throughout that range of movement.
Weight training (correctly) with free weights, can have an amazing effect at increasing you range of movement at a joint whilst simultaneously improving strength – what’s not to like here?
Better heart health
We all know by now that exercise is good for your heart, and weight training is an excellent modality to really help your heart health. Outside of the benefits to the heart due to improved body composition (see above) weight trainers will often see improvements to circulation, resting heart rate and the overall ‘efficiency’ of the heart.
Weight training is often shown to have more potential benefits than aerobic activity for heart health due to the increased demand on the circulatory system from increased oxygen expenditure.
Of course it doesn’t really matter what’s better when it comes to heart health – exercise is GOOD!
Help back and joint pain
‘I can’t lift weights I have a bad back’ – if only I had £1 for every client that’s ever said this to me! Weight training time and time again has been shown to IMPROVE back pain as well as a lot of other joint pain. Quite simply building strength, muscle and mobility is only going to be a good thing when it comes to a bad back (or similar)
You should always consult your doctor before starting any exercise regime, and if you do suffer from back pain day 1 500lb deadlift might not be smart – nevertheless – a well designed and progressive strength training program can absolutely help ease back pain in many cases. And as previous points have already touched on – weight lifting improves body composition, which will mean less useless fatty weight causing unnecessary pressure on the back/spine.
I can provide multiple client testimonials from people living with chronic back pain who once undertaking regular resistance training no longer have any pain at all.
Balance is something that impacts our every day life, be it avoiding a slip, walking on uneven surfaces or carrying an object or child. Our balance is tested regularly and once again weight training contributes greatly to improved balance.
Now before you get out the BOSU ball I am not talking about that type of ‘training’
The simple act of lifting weights statically will do wonders for your balance, giving you a strong core, back, ankles, knees, hips etc. these strong joints can then react quickly if you lose balance, and can be the difference in preventing serious injury, especially in older populations.
More complex movement patterns such as weighted carries, single leg and arm movements can all be great advanced tools in balance, however a simple plank or squat will be more than enough to develop excellent balance and coordination.
Improved confidence comes in a variety of ways when we start weight lifting. Obviously with an improved body composition, feeling and looking batter will do wonders for confidence. Aside from this though there are may other confidence boosting considerations.
You walked into the ‘scary’ bit of the gym and worked out there (and its not so scary anymore)
You can lift up heavy weights you never thought possible
You aren’t scared of tripping or falling anymore
You don’t have a bad back anymore
You can say yes to that walk, ride, trek, holiday, event
The list could go on and on, but confidence really is a hidden X factor of lifting and arguably affects every other point on this list.
Anyone who has lifted weights seriously (or even semi seriously) can attest to the improvements in their mental strength and resilience. Encountering struggle in our lives is essential in developing a driven, grounded and confidant outlook.
Too often in modern day our lifestyles are incredibly safe and sanitised, most of us are very fortunate to have a roof over our head, a safe place to sleep and not to worry about our next meal. Yet still we seek to further coddle ourselves, elevator instead of stairs, drive instead of walk, take the easy option – avoid that tough choice again today.
Weight training is an excellent method in creating a tough mental mind-set we can bring to our every day lives – coupled with our improved confidence (and 300lbs of muscle – just kidding) there is nothing we can’t achieve, we can ask for a raise, take on new challenges and deal with problems when they arise.
Once you’ve battled your way up from underneath a squat that’s right on the edge of your ability you start feeling pretty damn unbeatable in life.
Lifetime of progression
The cool thing with weight training is that it offers, in theory, infinite progression; this makes it the perfect tool for continued improvement and development over a lifetime. In principal its incredibly easy to keep ‘moving the goal posts’ to ensure continued progress and results.
Simply by changing parameters such as reps, sets and intensity we can continue to provide a strong stimulus to the body and cause great adaptations as listed above.
On top of this the abundance of equipment and modalities are limitless, meaning we can work around temporary set backs or put more emphasis on one goal or body part as well as keeping things varied and interesting.
So there you have it 15 reasons to get in the gym and start lifting. As I’m sure you can see from my list the positives brought about by regular lifting are numerous and will have amazing impact on multiple areas of your life and well being.
As with most lists, these are fairly short hand points and can be massively expanded upon in future posts if of interest J.
A couple of studies referenced are listed below if anyone would like further reading.
Iowa State University. (2018, November 13). Weightlifting is good for your heart and it doesn’t take much. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181113115430.htm