Do you Want to be Stronger, Healthier, Motivated and Have more Muscle?
OK, I get it. Articles on ‘Why Weight Training is Great’ are everywhere. Especially in January when the fitness industry goes into overdrive to sell you gadgets you don’t need and supplements that don’t work.
I know because I’ve been there. I’ve popped every dodgy ‘fat burner’ and ‘diet shake’ out there. I can’t even bear to think about how much I spent on snake oil type supplements.
The magazine shelves are full of hastily re-written articles on How to Strip Away Fat (sounds painful), How to Peel Away Your Belly Blubber (also painful).
I even saw one fitness magazine article advertised as ‘How to Get Fit and Have Offensively Good Sex’. And yes, I was too scared to see what that entailed.
The problem with all of these articles is that they’re selling you something. It’s hard to see through the wall of advertising into the real issues.
Is weight training really that great or do you just want me to buy a weight gainer so I can go on an ill advised winter bulk?
The great thing about this article is that I’m not selling you a thing. In fact, I want you to read this and then close your computer and do 20 push ups.
Unless you want to…
Instead, this is a no BS, straight from my personal experience, guide on why you should take up weight lifting. Or if you already do it, why you need to ramp it up. Keep reading if you want the knowledge.
I’ll admit it, I haven’t always lifted weights. In fact, I wasn’t even a regular at a gym until six years ago. How that happened is another story for another time.
But the point is, I got to weight training late. I was well into my mid-twenties before I picked up anything heavier than a petrol can.
But in those six years, I’ve seen changes in my body that I was not prepared for. And it seems to get better as I get older. In the past year, my overall weight has stayed the same while my muscle mass, leanness and strength have all improved.
I’ve finally started to get a shape. I’ve gone from ‘fit’ to ‘big’ (or bigger at least). My wife has started to notice the changes to my physique, though she’d never admit it.
1. Lift Weights for Increased Metabolism
When you lift weights, you will gain muscle. This is true especially when you’re new to weight training. Your body will be super responsive to the new stimulus and you’ll pack on muscle in double quick time.
Sadly, this honeymoon period only lasts for a few months. But if you stick with the training and keep your diet under control, you can add 10-15 pounds of muscle in your first year of training.
What does this have to do with metabolism? Metabolism is:
All chemical reactions that occur in living organisms, including digestion and the transport of substances into and between different cells (Wikipedia).
Different body tissues have different levels of activity when it comes to metabolism. Muscle has lots of chemical reactions just to keep going.
Stored body fat? Not so much. It just sits there.
So, if you weigh 75 kilos and are 25% body fat you’re body will burn a lot less energy throughout the day than if you were the same weight but 15% body fat. Your metabolism would have increased because of the extra muscle you’re packing.
Now you burn more calories (and fat) just sitting around the house than you did when you were skinny-fat. You’ll also be able to eat more food without gaining body fat. So it’s one big win for metabolism.
2. Lift Weights to Become Stronger
“I don’t really like being stronger. I’m much happier being weak….” – No One. Ever.
Seriously, who doesn’t want to get stronger? If you’re a Dad, increased strength is going to help you out a lot for things like:
Pushing your teenage daughter’s car when it breaks down
Carrying all of the holiday luggage. In one trip
Opening stubborn jars of jam
Strength can be a by-product of lifting weights, particularly when you start out. Your strength will sky-rocket to begin with.
However it will start to tail off eventually and you’ll ‘plateau’. This is when you aren’t really making any improvements in strength. You then may have to train specifically to get stronger.
These days, I train almost primarily for strength. I’ve got a good programme that’s working for me. I’m also putting on muscle while keeping my weight constant. That’s known as a triple win.
3. Lift Weights to Be More than You Are
You really have two options:
Do not lift weights and remain the skinny and weak person that can lift weights but doesn’t because you’re too lazy, unmotivated or pathetic. In one year you’ll be exactly who you are today, but one year older.
Start lifting weights and become disciplined. In the process you lower your body fat, increase muscle size, sex drive and overall attractiveness. In one year, you’ll be older, but you’ll look and feel younger.
Self Improvement books sell like hot cakes. Titles like ‘The Chimp Paradox’ sold thousands of copies and topped the best seller’s lists in 2015.
But one of the easiest ways to improve is to train the body into a fitter, healthier, better version of what you are now.
It’s not easy – that’s why everyone would rather just buy a book. And read it on the train while they eat half a packet of chocolate biscuits.
Choose not to be that Dad. Refuse to accept the Dad Bod and instead commit to real, lasting, physical self help.
4. Lift Weights for More Motivation
Wait? Lifting weights increases motivation? Yes, but not necessarily how you might think. Lifting weights will give you a greater sense of purpose and discipline (see point 3).
But what I’m talking about is increased testosterone.
Testosterone (or test for short) is the male sex hormone. And guess what? If you’re lifting weights and eating the right foods, your body secretes more of it.
More testosterone means more muscle, increased sex drive and lower body fat, particularly man boobs and back fat.
Will more test make you aggressive? In a word, no.
You would need to be enhancing testosterone chemically for that to be an issue. I’m talking about small increases in hormone levels due to lifestyle and diet changes.
If you feel aggression from weight training and better diet, you probably need therapy.
The benefits are like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, the light at the end of the tunnel. Once you’ve experienced this you’ll never go back.
You’ll be more motivated because you always want to feel this way.
5. Lift Weights for Better Health
I used to think that I would lift weights for a few years and then quit and take up jogging or cycling instead.
I, like many people, though that lifting weights would ultimately lead to crippling injury and early death.
But the more I learn, the more I know this to be false. The only people who have crippling injury are the really unlucky or really stupid lifters. Everyone else can carry on indefinitely.
I recently went to a funeral. This guy had lifted weights beyond his ninetieth birthday! It was a part of his lifestyle, something he always did. Like brushing his teeth or taking a shower.
I’d be an idiot to to think I’ll always lift heavy and train for strength. But I do intend on lifting as long as physically able.
The benefits easily outweigh any risks:
Increased bone density
Better hormone balance
Improved flexibility and endurance
Better cardiovascular health and fitness
This year, I’ll be 32 years old. I am fitter, healthier and have more muscle than when I was 22. By a long way. And I intend on keeping going.
I was probably one of the most reluctant gym users at the start. But the changes to my body and life in general were too much to ignore.
In the gym, I’m able to shut out problems and focus on the task at hand. I always leave feeling calmer and glad I trained:
The feeling of being strong, powerful and ‘together’ cannot be valued.
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that you should take up weight training. Or if you’ve been away for a while, that you should start again soon. If you do, let me know how you get on.
P.S. You know what won’t give you more muscle? My emails. They’re still worth signing up for though.