What do you think when you hear “weightlifting”? Do you think of bodybuilders? Maybe “I’m Hans, this is Franz and we’re here to pump (clap) you up!” You get bonus points if you know what that is from (and yes, I am showing my age with that one)!
From birth to around the age of 30 our muscles grow larger and stronger. Then at some point in our mid-30s, our muscles take a turn and decide they no longer want to grow, and we begin to lose muscle mass. This is not a good thing. We need our muscles, they help up do all sorts of things like moving, lifting, and carrying. The loss of muscle mass due to age is called sarcopenia and there is nothing you can do to stop it. But there is something you can do to slow it down and almost completely reverse…exercise and eating a well-balanced diet. I am here today to talk about the exercise part and specifically about lifting weights.
Now stop cringing! I am not talking about you turning into a bodybuilder from the 80s (Hey Arnold! Nice arms!). I am here to debunk a few myths and give a few points as to why you really should incorporate weights at least 3 times a week into your fitness routine.
Myth #1 – Lifting weights will make me bulky. This is for the ladies; it is not true! To build massive muscles, you would have to eat a lot more calories and lift big heavy weights for a significant amount of time. You have to work hard for every ounce of muscle you gain, and it is not as easy as one would think to grow big muscles. A woman’s physique was not designed for big muscles. Your muscles will grow to a healthy level that promotes an increased metabolism. The truth is that with proper nutrition, lifting weights will help you create a leaner physique.
Myth #2 – If I stop lifting, my muscle will turn into fat. Ok, listen (well, read this) muscle will not turn into fat and fat will not turn into muscle. Ever. Unless you have created something that will completely change the human body and if you have done that let’s talk because I have some things that I want to change. Seriously though, this will not happen. Lifting weights will help amp your metabolism not only during your workout but long after which keeps burning that fat while you are sitting at your desk!
Myth #3 – Weightlifting is bad for my joints. I am not sure who started this lie, but I would like to talk to him or her. Lifting does not put a harmful load on your joints. The truth is that building muscle will help grow strength in the structure around your joints which in turn will help protect them and help absorb shock.
Really almost all the bad things that we have heard about weightlifting are either completely wrong or words have been twisted to make the good points sound bad. What are the reasons that you should be lifting weights, you ask? Let me tell you!
Reason #1 – We are going to start at the heart of it, actually at the heart of you. Lifting weights helps reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing the factors such as large waist circumference, high triglycerides, elevated blood pressure, and elevated glucose levels. This is according to a study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research about the association between lifting weights and metabolic syndrome (Association Between Lifting Weights and Metabolic Syndrome a… : The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (lww.com)) Stating that resistance activities may be responsible for both the increased strength and reduced metabolic risk. During the workout your heart rate will be increased but you will find that your blood pressure and resting heart rate will be lower.
Reason #2 – It will increase your energy and improve your quality of sleep. I want to mention these two together because what could be more opposite. Strength training will help you fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake less often during the night. Imagine getting a great night’s sleep every night, waking in the morning to workout and then all the energy you will have from being well-rested and increased metabolism! You don’t have to just imagine this; it can happen. Sleep and energy and it’s not just a dream.
Reason #3 – It builds confidence! When you start a lifting program (and I highly recommend a program and not diving in blind) and progress through it you gain confidence as you visibly see the changes in your body and on paper. No matter what you do you need to track, so you can see your progression. For example, you start a program, and you are using 5lb dumbbells to do a bicep curl. By the end of your program, you are curling 10lb dumbbells. Now you know you are doing that but to see it in your tracker boosts your confidence by affirming that you can do anything your set your mind too. This is hard to explain so I suggest that you try it if you don’t believe me! If you are not ready to step into a program, try adding this bicep curl a few times a week (don’t forget to track)!
Pick the weight you believe you can curl for 12-15 reps for 3 sets. If you are brand new to this and have no weights grab soup cans or 16oz water bottles! I am not kidding. Hold the weights in your hands with your palms facing away from you and your arms at your sides. Locking your elbows at your sides raise your hands (bending at the elbow) all the way up to your shoulders. Make sure those elbows don’t go up with your arms. Then lower your hands all the way back down. Points to remember, you should not feel any pain in your wrists, keep them firm and straight. When at your shoulders do not let the weight bend your wrists in or out. If you are feeling pain or your wrists are bending, please lighten your weight. Keep those elbows lock in at your sides. If they raise up, you are lifting with your shoulders and not your biceps. As you raise your arms make sure to not arch your back. And as you lower don’t let your arms just drop and swing past your waist/hips. Also, no swinging and no momentum. This is a strong controlled raise and lower. You want to feel your biceps working! Yes, this is a lot for simple bicep curl, but form is the absolute key to not getting hurt. If you have to, practice with no weight. If you squeeze as you lift you will feel your bicep working.
As you know it is August in Michigan and your local farmers have all the fresh vegetables and fruits that we need to take advantage of. Therefore I do not have a recipe to share this month but encourage you to visit your local farmers, support them and let them know how grateful you are for them.
Jilisa Ghareeb has been a Beachbody coach for 6 years. Her favorite part of being involved with fitness and nutrition is watching her clients change and open up a whole new world. As a coach, she is able to help others by introducing them to a change that is often scary, intimidating, and full of “what ifs” to an encouraging and inspirational lifestyle full of “I cans”. She uses her own story to show others that everything is possible with hard work and determination. If you’re interested in reaching out to Jilisa for more information you can contact her via email, on Instagram or Facebook.