Why You Should Lift Weights and Incorporate Heavy Resistance Training
Weight Lifting: All the #fitspo rage, but does it work?
My answer is YES...depending on your goals.
The whole purpose of this "Workouts that Work" series is to explain how different modalities of exercise such as cardio, light-resistance training (yoga, barre, pilates), and weight-lifting all serve a purpose and can have a place in a balanced workout routine.
What Weight Lifting Is...
Picking things up and putting them down. This is probably something you do every day- carrying grocery bags, slinging your heavy-ass-but-it's-fashion purse, picking up your kid, or rearranging furniture by yourself ‘cause #independentwoman.
Lifting weights is kind of just like that! But different. A little more planned and organized and you’d probably do it in a gym. Whether the weight is in your hands or on your back, whether you’re pushing it away or pulling it toward you, it’s all lifting!
So, WHY should you lift?
Well hello, I think the most obvious answer is because it’s darn PRACTICAL for life. Reason #2 is because it’s the most efficient way to sculpt your body. If you want a derriere that pops, Michelle Obama-esque arms, or a more hourglass shape- heavy resistance training is key! Reason #3 is food. More muscle mass means more calories burned throughout your day, which means a little more wiggle room in your caloric intake- I dunno about you, but this is a huge plus for this hungry hippo. Finally, Reason #4 is bone health! As Harvard Medical states in their article, Strength Training Builds More Than Muscles, "Numerous studies have shown that strength training can play a role in slowing bone loss, and several show it can even build bone."
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “No, Lauren. Stop it. I don’t want to look like a man.” “The gym isn’t fun for me” “I feel like an uncoordinated moron when I try to lift.” “Gym dudes creep me out.”
I get it. I do! But bear with me. You WILL NOT, I repeat, WILL NOT, turn into a “man” overnight. I’ve been actively attempting to add muscle to my frame for a little over 2 years and I have yet to feel more masculine! I’m a long time member of the itty-bitty-titty committee, do chest exercises twice a week and HAVE NOT developed bro-pecs. If anything, I feel more feminine. I love my body. I like not seeing a straight stick in the mirror. I’ve filled out a bit!
The gym can absolutely be fun. It’s not exactly the social event that exercise classes can sometimes turn into, but it’s entertaining in it’s own way. If you’re doing it right, you’re competing with yourself. I don’t think you can ever get too strong for the gym. Unless you're Ronnie Coleman. There is a constant challenge presented. It’s both a physical and mental game. If there’s an exercise you absolutely can’t stand, skip it. Just be real with yourself about why you’re skipping it and accept that you might be limiting your results by leaving it out.
Lifting is like anything else, it requires practice and patience. You’re not going to be an expert right away and you won’t see results overnight. When I first started lifting, I was fortunate enough to have my boyfriend, Rob, to help me get started. Even so, there were many occasions when I was convinced that I looked like a idiot and that everyone was laughing at me behind my back. The truth is that most people in the gym are pretty consumed with themselves and their own workout and don’t really give a HOOT what you’re doing as long as you’re not in their way. I’m going to do a full post with suggestions for beginner lifters and include some recommendations for starter programs, but for now my #1 piece of advice is to watch LOTS of videos. YouTube provides a wealth of FREE lifting knowledge, from programming to correct form.
I’m not gonna lie to you, there are some creepy dudes in the gym. But you know what? There’s creepy dudes everywhere. In the coffee shop...in the gas station...but I don’t let them stop me from getting my caffeine buzz on! I challenge you to stop making excuses and stop letting the “creepy dude” prospect keep you from your workout. If there’s a guy who is legitimately problematic at your gym, take it up with the manager or owner. It’s not being a wuss, it’s helpful feedback!
Heavy resistance training has proven to be the highest impact “tool” in my workout kit. It’s most definitely a workout that WORKS and I sincerely hope you’ll give it a go!
Questions about liftng? Leave them below! There’s a post with my best tips for beginner lifters coming in the near future, so stay tuned!
Harvard Health Publishing. “Strength Training Builds More than Muscles.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/strength-training-builds-more-than-muscles.