Weight-lifting has for too long, been lumped in as a pursuit for aspiring hulks and macho man-types only. The intention of this post is to shed some light on the lesser known benefits of pumping iron and convince you non-gymmers that building weights into your exercise routine is a smart move from a general health perspective.
All types of resistance training work on the principle of adaptation and progressive overload. By placing tension on the target muscles using either body weight or steel, the muscle is forced to adapt to the load placed upon it by getting stronger and more developed. As this adaptation occurs, the developing muscle is able to move the weight with less stress on the muscle fibres. As such, to continue to improve strength and/or size, the muscle must be subjected to increased stress by way of either higher load, more repetitions or more time under tension (slowing movement down).
Whilst muscular and strength development are often the primary goals of resistance training, there are an abundance of other reasons you should consider pumping iron. ‘Tell us more Jase’ I hear you say:
- Weight-lifting has been proven a successful technique of preventing and managing obesity. This happens both by burning energy during the activity and by improving metabolic rate due to an increase in muscle to fat ratio. This has obvious benefits in reducing risk of heart attack, stroke and other issues stemming from one being overweight.
- Weight-lifting over time improves co-ordination, flexibility, joint stability, posture, mobility and balance as the mind-muscle connection sharpens. This is especially important as one gets older.
- Weight-lifting improves bloody glucose management due to the working muscles’ demand for glucose as an energy source. This significantly improves one’s risk of developing diabetes.
- Weight-lifting improves the body’s ability to utilise oxygen (VO2 Max) which has important benefits in sports performance. And for us men, will also sharpen us up for the bedroom! No woman (or man) likes a panting 35 year old!
- Weight-lifting assists in preventing and treating joint pain by keeping the movement through the full range of motion possible. Non-moving joints tend to seize up causing pain and injury.
- Weight-lifting improves bone density and therefore bone strength. This pushes back on osteoporosis (critical for women) and helps to prevent breaks from falls in the elderly.
- Weight-lifting as with all exercise, improves sleep quality. Because the muscles require downtime to repair, the demands of exercise enforces quality sleep as a priority for the body. This means you get to sleep quicker and rest with less interruption.
- Weight-lifting helps to improve confidence and self-esteem. The very feeling of putting yourself through a challenging workout strengthens your personal resolve and helps to breakdown your self-imposed limitations.
- Weight-lifting is an incredible stress-reliever and mood enhancer. It’s much better to take your anger out on a bench press than a work colleague. Plus, working out releases a flood of endorphins, the feel good chemicals that trigger the pleasure centres of the brain.
- Weight-lifting is crazy for improving your focus. The mental challenge of completing a workout runs parallel to completing a challenging work task. Once you return to your desk, you’ll find your mental acuity has sharpened making you more productive.
So you’re convinced of the benefits, now where do you start? Walking into a gym can be an incredibly daunting task when you are just starting out. You’ve got old mate grunting with each repetition performed and the clunking sound of dropped dumbbells bouncing around the room. But fear not my friend, we all had that same feeling when we started.
Here are my tips on getting started in the gym when you first start:
- Choose clothing that YOU feel comfortable in – you don’t need to try and fake ego just because it’s a gym. Aim to feel yourself.
- Get a Personal Trainer – the reality is that half the people in a gym are little chance of achieving anything because they are doing the movements wrong and risking injury. A PT for the first two to three sessions is a great investment and will demonstrate to you the correct form.
- Form before weight – Unless your primary goal is to become a power-lifter, correct form is your priority. FORGET THE WEIGHT! Lifting heavy at the expense of form is the number one mistake in the gym. Concentrate instead on feeling the burn on the target muscle.
- Read about and watch others in the gym and online – as you expose yourself to more videos and books on weight-lifting, you will grow in confidence and want to try more advanced training techniques.
Got specific questions you want to ask? Drop me a line or comment below and start the convo!