Lifting can enhance the quality of your life and help you to enjoy everyday activities more…
I’ve recently read a few articles on the benefits of lifting heavier weights, especially for women. Now some people might immediately be nervous about the term “heavier” weight. I can totally understand that trepidation. When we hear the work “heavy” our minds naturally go to images of very large and muscular individuals lifting massive amounts of weight. A better, more descriptive term might be “heavier for you” weights, meaning an amount of weight that is just beyond the amount that is comfortable to lift – an amount which requires effort and concentration, whether that amount is 35# (the weight of a small child) or 200# – the definition of “heavy” is specific to each individual.
So why is lifting “heavy for me” weights so important? According to the Mayo Clinic,
“Strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass at any age.
Strength training may also help you:
- Develop strong bones. By stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
- Manage your weight. Strength training can help you manage or lose weight, and it can increase your metabolism to help you burn more calories.
- Enhance your quality of life. Strength training may enhance your quality of life and improve your ability to do everyday activities. Building muscle also can contribute to better balance and may reduce your risk of falls. This can help you maintain independence as you age.
- Manage chronic conditions. Strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, back pain, obesity, heart disease, depression and diabetes.
- Sharpen your thinking skills. Some research suggests that regular strength training and aerobic exercise may help improve thinking and learning skills for older adults.
All these things are important. Without a doubt, strength training improves your health in many ways, regardless of your age or gender. There is another, less tangible benefit that I would like to discuss. It’s the mental shift that comes with it. Over the past few years, I’ve seen many people come in who have never touched a barbell before. At first, they are typically nervous and a little intimidated – so we start small, with our lightest weight bar, which is only 15 pounds. That’s when the excitement starts.
It usually doesn’t take long before these individuals are more comfortable with the lifts and movements and are ready to start adding a little more weight. Eventually they start to challenge themselves, knowing that their coaches are there to make sure that they are challenged, but don’t go heavier than they are ready for. Once this happens, I always see a blossoming.
Individuals who see for the first time how strong they are and how strong they might become develop a confidence that they may not have known previously. It is not unusual for them to talk about how much better they feel and how much stronger lifting weights has made them. Sometimes I get to hear about how this new feeling of strength has helped them in other situations as well. Maybe they are more willing to try other new things; maybe they are now able to participate in activities with their families and children that were previously not attainable; maybe they are more confident in their relationships because they understand that they are strong and capable; maybe they just feel better. It’s all good. This is why I do what I do. I introduce people to their own strength and it is amazing.