Written by R. S Jacobs
My love for fitness didn’t kick in until well into my 20s and it was mostly in the form of intense cardio such as spinning, running and occasional HIIT exercises. I actively went out of my way to avoid doing anything that even remotely involved any form of weights.
My rationale behind this was that I didn’t want to be big and bulky anymore, and surely lifting weights would make me look like a beast?!!? My cardio-loving gym buddies and I loved to make fun of people who were lifting weights in the gym and mock some of the people who look like they are walking out of the gym with an invisible TV under each arm.
Every time I thought of people who lifted weights, I had flashbacks of The Thing (Marvel superhero made of rock) from Fantastic Four. Needless to say, this image did not encourage me to even consider the idea of lifting weights anytime soon. Much to my surprise, there seem to be many people out there (men and women), who have the same misguided mindset regarding lifting weights.
Surprisingly, I stumbled upon lifting weights almost by accident, of course, I was always aware of the concept, but considered it something for men who want to have huge muscles. In fact, I was picking up some last minute things in a pre-Christmas sale and I saw a 10KG kettlebell at 90% off, and if there is one thing that I am guilty of, it’s a good bargain!
At the back of my mind, I told myself that I would never make use of it and it would most likely gather dust or be used to prop a door open until I inevitably decide to give it to charity as I scold myself for wasting money again! By the time I had finished this thought I was already at the till getting the receipt from the cashier, and as I made my way to the car with what felt a monstrous weight, I literally felt like I was ready for at least a European Strong Woman title!
I am ashamed to admit that in fact, the kettlebell did gather dust for longer than I would care to admit. Having lost a considerable amount of weight (30KG) over the space of a couple of years using the widely encouraged ‘High Cardio/ Low Fat/ Low Calorie’ method, my mind was focused on trying to push my body further to try and break through what seemed like months of plateau.
Don’t get me wrong, this method certainly did provide results, and I survived for at least 2 years on well under 1500 calories (low carb, low fat and low protein – basically salads and veg!) and often 2 hours of hard cardio, 6 days a week. Having initially lost a lot of weight within a fairly short amount of time, it was very hard to get used to the fact that my body needed something different in order to see ongoing results.
I kept telling myself that persistence would help me reach my goal weight eventually, and so I continued this vicious cycle of reducing my daily calorie intake further, painstakingly counting every single calorie of each morsel that passed my lips and reprimanding myself every time I so much as forgot to count a cup of tea, or if I couldn’t resist the inviting selection of home baked goodies made by one of my colleagues. And so the research began, I had to find out why all my hard work, efforts and sacrifices were no longer paying off like they had at the start!
This was one of the greatest learning curves in my fitness journey, and I only wish I had done it sooner because I can truly say it changed my life! I finally feel like I am free of the shackles of calorie controlled diets and found inner strength that I never even knew was there, to begin with. The game changer was that by lifting weights, I would be able to bring life back to my depleted muscles that had suffered as a result of too much cardio and not enough fuel (fats, proteins and carbs).
Lifting my dusty kettlebell felt amazing, and I chose a simple kettlebell video on YouTube that left me feeling like a champion! I couldn’t believe how many people were in the same boat as me and mistake weightlifting as steroid-fueled body building. I didn’t notice any significant changes until I aligned my new exercise regime with a food plan that would fuel my body properly. Once my metabolism was reset, the results were unbelievable and I can honestly say that I will be sticking to this routine for the rest of my life!
Here are Few of the Key Points That I Found Out During My Research:
- Lifting does not make you bulky! Lifting weights will help you achieve lean toned muscles. The only way to achieve the bulky look is to load yourself with a variety of anabolic steroids and manipulating your body’s hormones to encourage unnatural muscle growth. Fitness legends like Jillian Michaels, Jen Widerstrom, and Shaun T attribute their ripped physiques down to lifting weights.
- Muscle fights fat! Increased muscle mass actually increases your metabolism rate as muscle needs more calories to fuel them. If you are in a slight calorie deficit, your body will dip into stored fat for a fuel source. This is one of the main reasons that people who lift weights have a significantly lower body fat percentage.
- Muscle gives you a tone! We all want to achieve an athletic, toned shape rather than just looking skinny and shapeless. Lean muscle makes your body look tight and you can actually enhance the shape of your body by working specific groups of the body.
- Muscles = Strength! As the saying goes, Strong is the new Skinny! Resistance training encourages your muscles to be stronger and more powerful, which will support all of your day-to-day functions.
- Increased bone density! Not only does weight lifting do wonders for your muscles but it also plays a big part of increasing bone density, this is a huge bonus! My family have a long history of osteoporosis, and my research showed that you can reduce the risk of osteoporosis enormously by lifting weights, which is especially important as you get older.
- Feel young! That’s right, lifting weights will keep you feeling young and agile for longer. As you age, the loss of mobility and function is a larger factor in feeling old. Imagine being able to move like a 30-year-old when you are twice that age, now that would be fantastic!
- Strong body = strong mind! As the phrase goes, mind over matter, and it couldn’t be truer when it comes to lifting weights, as you force yourself to push beyond your comfort zone. Your body will only take you so far, but with the added advantage of a powerful mind, you will be amazed at just how far you are able to go. This inner mental strength will fuel you in every aspect of your life!
In conclusion, the fundamentals of weight lifting is quite simple, by pushing a specific muscle to the limits, you cause micro tears which stimulate natural muscle repairing hormones during your rest periods. By repeating this tear and repair process, as I like to call it, your muscles get stronger and more shapely. Weight training is most definitely one of the best things you can do to maintain a balance of strength, power and all-round good health.
You can start at any time regardless of your age, all you need is a selection of dumbbells or kettlebells in different weight, coupled with a good workout routine. Please note that in order to avoid injuries or unnecessary strain, moderation is the key. Always aim to have enough rest time to encourage your muscles to fully recuperate. I can guarantee with 100% certainty that you will never regret weight training.
Stay Strong, Warriors.
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