You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to start lifting heavy things, and picking up a bar won’t turn you into a monster (unless you’re into that sort of thing). Weightlifting is a great way for people of all fitness levels to start getting stronger and increase their lean muscle mass. In addition to looking better, weightlifting can improve your physical and mental health, and has been associated with reduced rates of diabetes, back pain, and depression.
You’ve probably heard that 'muscle weighs more than fat'. It turns out that that’s not just a playground excuse and there’s actually some weight behind this claim. Muscle is not only denser than fat, but it also requires more energy to maintain. A pound of muscle burns 2.5x more calories than a pound of fat. This means, as you increase your muscle mass, you will need to eat more food just to maintain your weight. So, unlike running, where you only burn calories during those excruciating minutes spent on the treadmill, weightlifting fuels your metabolism long after you leave the gym. It’s almost like an investment, first, you work for your muscle, and then you let your muscle work for you. So, whether you’re looking to lean out for a healthier lifestyle or just Instagramable beach vacation, weightlifting may be a better way to achieve your goal.
Your muscles aren’t the only thing that stands to benefit from lifting heavy. Regular weight training also increases bone strength and prevents deterioration. According to the IOF, 1 in 5 men over the age of 50 will experience an osteoporosis-related bone fracture. Perhaps being big-boned isn’t so bad, after all.
If you’ve ever had a desk job, you know how easy it is to slip into slouchy posture. Proper weight training can help strengthen your supporting muscles and encourage better posture. Squats, deadlifts, and other core-strengthening activities build muscle around your spine to help you stand up straighter. Pulling exercises, like pull-ups and rows, help strengthen your upper back and keep your shoulders from rolling forward.
When you lift weights you’re actually creating micro-tears in your muscle fibres. When you’re done in the gym, your body works to repair these tears. This process (called hypertrophy) takes places during periods of rest and is what causes your muscles to grow. So, when you put the weights down, your body will be begging for recovery time. You’ll find that you’re sleeping longer and better as a result.
It’s 2018, we’re all stressed. While some people still take up smoking (or vaping, in 2018), there are much healthier ways to cope. When you perform physical activity, your body releases endorphins, which react with your brain’s receptors to trigger positive feelings. I always feel better after pounding out a heavy set on the bench press, and it’s much more convenient than engaging in a wall-punching tantrum. I believe that stress-relief is one of the reasons that people get addicted to weights.
If you are lifting weights, start out slow and focus on mastering each movement. Don’t overdo it and listen to your body. A high-protein diet is important to help fuel muscle recovery, and science recommends consuming 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you need help hitting your daily target, shake up some Suppy whey protein to up your intake.
If you're looking for more ways to supplement your training, check out our post on active recovery.