Why Weight Training is a Must, but the Awkward Naked Facebook Pictures Aren’t
There is nothing more attractive and impressive than a person getting all muscly and taking self-portraits in their bathroom with their cellphones after weight training. It shows humility, stability, and grace.
That is what you want to be like right? Weight training is all about getting “swole” and having everyone want to be like you or with you.
Now I hope that you threw up as you read that opening line. If you didn’t, then please walk away from this article!
People have the wrong idea about weight training whether they are doing it or watching it. The common thought that comes to mind when you think weight training is the really bulky, tan guy that is on steroids. That is not what weight training has to be for you.
In fact, it can be the exact opposite. Weight training can not only be something that helps you get into great, lean shape, but it can also help you get a selfless, humble, and positive mindset if you handle it right.
Weight training, mixed in with a few ounces of humility, can go a long way. A long way toward improving your life, living longer, fighting diseases, and having a higher level of confidence…but that doesn’t mean stupid social media pictures to get attention.
It doesn’t matter your age or your condition, it is important to having a healthy life. Weight training should be an integral part of that solution.
Let’s talk about why weight training is valuable and debunk some of the myths of weight training. By the end hopefully you will see that bench presses and squats don’t have to come with bronzer and a half naked Facebook picture.
Why is Weight Training Important?
So before we dive into this, let me mention there are two other names for weight training: resistance or strength training. Just so you know I use those interchangeably. As far as I am concerned, they are pretty much the same thing.
So why does this seemingly meat-headish routine known as weight training matter? It is the ying to the yang of cardio. You gotta have it.
It doesn’t have to involve tight clothes and excessive tanning sessions, but it does have to be a part of your life in order to get healthy faster. Weight training is mandatory not just for muscle building, but even for proper weight loss. Cardio and weight training work synergistically (overused buzzword) to help your hormones stabilize and promote fat loss instead of gain.
Weight training isn’t about pulling or pushing weights. It is more about exerting force. Exerting force is something we do in every aspect of our life. We even do this daily with activities we sometimes take for granted. This could be opening a door, pushing a cart, walking, or physically picking up your kids. It all comes down to how much force you are using and with what muscles. Weight training makes this all easier and actually safer.
With this method of strength training, let me emphasize that it is important to not just use weights, but also to include speed or quickness when possible. This is what exerting force is all about.
This is also what training gurus call “power”: which is the combo of force and speed. This could mean less weight in your exercise, but at a quicker pace. Power is significant not just in weight training, but also in cardio.
We see this in activities like plyometrics, core synergistic exercises, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) involving short bursts of sprinting or changing direction. Power is important to have in order to improve your cardio. If you are improving your power, then you are getting the most out of your cardio as well.
Some Other Weight Training Benefits
Power, like a person’s sex drive, seems to go with age. Just like sex drive, power is important to maintain in order to slow the aging process and avoid Viagra.
As we include power inducing exercises we help to maintain muscle fiber that is vital for quick, forceful movements. These types of movements help to drop kick aging in the face and is one of the major benefits of weight training.
More weight training with a proper diet means more lean muscle. It’s that simple. A higher percentage of muscle causes your metabolic rate to speed up, which will burn more calories when you are resting. While that resting calorie burn might not be a huge impact, lean mass definitely helps to keep you from gaining more fat. You want to get all the help you can and a higher lean mass percentage means you are burning more calories just by blinking and breathing.
This is similar to the financial mentality that more interest you have accruing over time in your favor, compared to against you, the better chance you have of becoming and staying rich. Or as they say have money work for you, instead of you working for money. Yes that was cheesy, but it is absolutely true!
The same thing goes with lean mass. Have lean mass work for you; instead of you always working to get more lean mass has a compounding impact on your health.
Not only does muscle help with fat burning, but more muscle means better bone density, stronger joints, and future injury prevention for simple, daily activities like house or yard work. Yes you can get hurt from overtraining, but if you are smart proper weight training will prevent you from getting a random injury in your daily routine that you would never expect.
The biggest impact will be overall health and confidence. Maybe that means a sexy Facebook picture, but I think it is more than just that.
We are talking about:
- longer life with loved ones,
- able to keep up with your kids and have great memories with them,
- more confidence asking someone out and going out on dates,
- higher chance of fighting off diseases, medical bills, and dying earlier than you expected,
- being a great role model to family and friends,
- confidence in your job,
- looking great in that dress or suit you haven’t been able to wear in years,
- no more buying multiple seats or feeling uncomfortable to sit down or stand up.
This just keeps going on. I think you get it. Include strength training in your life and it will help get you the life you deserve. More importantly it will provide the confidence you need to make a difference in other people’s lives.
Common Concerns About Weight Training
So before we talk about what you should do with weight training, let’s take care of some of the concerns that people have. There is a lot of bad propaganda out there on weight training like you can’t do weight training for weight loss.
Now some of it is warranted based on the reputation people have given weight training. It is like those crooked lawyers or marketers that screw it up for everyone else. Let’s put the conspiracy theories to rest.
“I Don’t Want to Get Too Bulky!”
There are those of you that are concerned that muscle building will get you “too bulky”…well don’t. Please stop because it is an urban myth that we buy into in order to give us an excuse to not lift weights.
More muscle tends to mean less fat or a lower percent of body fat. You know those people you want to look like? They have a high percent lean mass or muscle. The only way to get there, and fast, is to include strength training.
Also understand a pound of fat and a pound of muscle both weigh the same thing. The difference is that muscle is a leaner tissue that looks more trim pound for pound on the body.
Nancy Snyderman, M.D., chief medical editor of NBC News and author of the book Diet Myths That Keep Us Fat, mentions that because muscle is denser than fat, having more muscle on your frame than fat makes you look leaner. So if you really want to look dreamy, then you need to gain muscle and leverage it to help replace the bulkier fat.
Not only is muscle leaner, but for most people muscle is a lot harder to put on compared to fat. For most of us it takes years and years of consistent weight training along with freak genetics and/or loads of steroids to get to that “Arnold Schwarzenegger” size that scares people. It usually doesn’t happen overnight.
So let’s say worst case scenario you wake up one morning with the nightmare coming true. You have “too much muscle” for you.
There is an easy remedy. Just do less weight training or cut back on your protein and dietary fat.
If you think about it, would you rather be overweight or “too bulky”? Getting bulky is a lot easier to change. You just have to do less (eating and lifting). Focus first on the bigger issue of being overweight and go from there.
So get past this Incredible Hulk fear, and start pumping some iron to help you look the way you want to.
“If I Start Lifting, Then I Can’t Stop or I Will Get flabby!”
Oh how I do love this one! People have a concern that if they start lifting and getting a lot of muscle, then they can’t stop lifting weights. If they do start weight training they become flabbier than if they never started. They will eventually be flabbier when they get older than if they never started lifting.
The concern is it will “stretch” their skin or something. This is a horrible myth that I am convinced it was created by companies motivated to keep you eating crappy junk food and buying large clothes.
First of all, you should keep lifting always. It is healthy for you and many associations like ACSM recommend that everyone should include weight or resistance training in their weekly regimen no matter what their age is.
In fact, weight training can reverse aging by slowing muscle and skin deterioration that comes with age. Eating healthy and exercising fights against oxidation that happens in your cells, which leads to advanced aging. While obesity caused by a poor diet and inactivity is what leads to stretch marks, varicose veins, and creases in your skin where fat is rolling over itself. If you have suffered from being overweight, I don’t need to tell you this.
Second, muscle and fat are different tissue. If you stop lifting, your muscle won’t “turn into fat”. Why bodybuilders get fat when they stop lifting is because they have eaten a high level of calories, including getting away with refined grains and sugars, to maintain a high level of energy when they are lifting. This is fine while they are young or highly active. Often this can be necessary at the time, but the problem is that many bodybuilders will eventually work out less.
At that time, they can’t make the shift to more appropriate type of calories (protein, fat, veggies) after they slow down on their high level of training. This makes it easy to lose muscle and gain fat. If you want to stay lean, you have to eat healthy while getting proper exercise. There is no way around it.
The other interesting part about this is that there is some assumption that you will stop weight training. Once you get to a certain point, you can check a box and move on to something else. Sorry to spoil it for you, but you are going to get just as flabby whether you lift and stop working out, or never work out.
Weight training and cardio should be a consistent part of your entire life if you want to look younger and be leaner.
“Muscle Makes You Less Flexible!”
There is a bit of truth to this and weight training flexibility. Traditional weight training can lead to more muscle mass, which can limit some joint movement. This isn’t nearly as bad as the lack of flexibility from not working out.
This is why we talk about including some form of stretching exercises like Pilates or Yoga on a weekly basis. There are 13 million people that do yoga in the USA (that are willing to admit it). It is becoming a much more common practice by both males and females of all ages.
In these exercises, there are aspects that help to actually build strength and muscle tissue while providing flexibility. There are multiple studies done by the NCCAM that shows the benefits of yoga for strength in muscles and joints, while lowering depression.
In fact, many football players do yoga and Pilates to help with agility and flexibility while maintaining muscle mass. They often see an increased performance level whether that comes to reaching, jumping, extending or whatever they need to do.
Learn how to “stretch yourself” to do the things that you don’t feel comfortable doing or you know that are your weaknesses. Often for people doing weight training, it is stretching. This will highly impact your overall progress and get you faster results through muscle confusion. Remember, successful people do the hard things that unsuccessful people won’t do.
Weighing the Issues
Weight training is very important to your long term health. You have to include it if you want to be successful. While there are plenty of myths and bad stigmas about it, the positives outweigh the negatives. If you can include even minimal strength training it will make all the difference in the world from a physical and emotional level.
What matters the most is that it can set the path for you to help out other people with their health. And what is great is you don’t have to post stupid pictures on Facebook to show off how great you look.
Next we will talk about different weight training exercises you can include in your regimen and some weight training tips that can make all the difference in your progress.
A Strong Warning: As we dive deeper into fitness, I want to make sure you are being cautious and safe. You have to make sure to consult a physician, doctor, or a certified health individual that can give you clean bill of health to start working out if you haven’t in a while or if you are doing something new.
Some of you have been working out for years and this won’t be an issue, but some have not thought about sweating for years. Either way I am excited to learn from you and work with you, but please be safe and smart about this and ease your way in.