The last article I wrote called ‘what the fitness industry doesn’t tell you’, was quite strong and opinionated. Ater this article, I wanted to take a chance to talk about many of the good things, both physical and mental that lifting weights can bring into your life.
Alright, let’s talk about why lifting weights is awesome.
Ok so first of all, training makes you live longer. The stronger you are, the longer you are likely to live, according to this study on grip strength which in my opinion is very conclusive. Participants between the ages of 35 and 70 were assessed for grip strength, measured using a Jamar dynamometer. The results were recorded and then followed up over the next 4 years. it was found that grip strength was a better indicator of lifespan than blood pressure. Wow, so what this means, is that being strong is more important for your lifespan and heart, than blood pressure. I think it leads back to the point that when you get strong, your heart gets stronger too which means it pumps more blood more efficiently and keeps you around longer. Also, falls increase in incidence as we get older, increasing injury and mortality risk. The stronger you are, the less likely you are to fall.
This study was conducted in 17 different countries on 139691 people. The evidence is quite clear if you retain your strength and work on getting stronger, it not only will improve your heart health, but will also help you live longer.
There is no cap on ability or age to do start weight training – Anybody can start any age. I’ve had, and have, several clients over the age of 50 that are the strongest they have ever been in their 50’s. It doesn’t matter what age you are, lifting weights is an endeavor you can continue to excel at and make improvements as you age. Even into the 90’s people have been shown to get strength and balance improvements from strength training.
Weight training helps to reduce lower back pain. Based on my own experience having suffered chronic back pain for 4 months last year, it was only when I began movements like squats, lunging and hip hinging that I saw the biggest drop in lower back pain symptoms. I also have experienced this with many of my clients also. I believe this is because by loading our body with weights we also load our core, and strengthen the muscles that support our lower back.
Weight training can help form a positive relationship with food. In order to build lean muscle mass, we will normally need to increase calories to provide a surplus of energy to build muscles with. When you need to eat to get stronger, food becomes fuel rather than something you use to ease the pain of life or celebrate with. Also when we are building mass, we need to eat more food. That a good thing, we have to eat more food. Many of my clients that have been on a ‘forever diet’ finally get to reverse this pattern and practice eating more, not less.
Weight training gives us a chance to test ourselves physically. Whereas once upon a time we would have gone into the forest to hunt our food, risking arm and leg, now, we simply nip next door to Tescos. I believe the sort of primal high we once had by tracking and killing our food, can be replaced by accomplishing personal fets of strength in the gym. Whether it’s going to the free weights area by yourself for the first time and overcoming the anxiety you might feel being in what seems like the scary part of the gym, or if you are about to hit a double bodyweight barbell squat for the first time, the feeling of setting up to do something you haven’t done before I think makes us feel alive.
Weight Training can help us become focused on our own progress, not other peoples.
Some people will be stronger than me, I will be stronger than some other people. None of it really matters though. The most important thing is that I learn to focus on my progress and to take pride in that. I have learned to appreciate my own progress for what it is, and that’s what weightlifting has the power to teach us all. We all can become the strongest versions of ourselves in some way or another in the weight room.
Weight training teaches critical thinking. What works and what does not work? Why is that?
There are so many fads in fitness and the diet world right now that people seem to get hooked up on following the latest trend without actually looking for results or proof that it gets results in the first place.
Learning to look at the evidence and investigating the results other people have got I believe is a skill that you can develop over time in order to maximise your progress.
Back in my younger years, I could certainly be seduced by any exotic training technique or claim by somebody that used big words to sound like they knew what they were talking about. I felt like I should just believe people I thought were smarter than me. Its a trend I still see today. But eventually, over time, I learned to look at what actually results these people were getting and making my own methodology based on what works, not whats trendy.
Anyway, guys, I hope that helped. It certainly helped me to write this article and really get into the nuts and bolts of some of the physical and emotional reasons of why getting in the gym is a good thing.
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