Lifting weight is one of the best, most rewarding and safest activities you can engage in.
With that, many refrain from it due to the bad rep it gained thanks to Bodybuilding and Fitness communities. I'm here to debunk 3 big myths that will hep you get started.
Weightlifting has become quite a popular trend these days, and with good reason.
The fruit that are for the picking as a result of lifting are among what every person who starts training wants - ability, looks, and sense of accomplishments.
When it comes to performance athletes, it was already understood around the 50's that strength training using weights is something that is crucial for the peak performance of every athlete no matter the sport.
Today, you will not see a single elite athlete that doesn't spend at least twice a week at the weight room.
“A strong building must be build upon strong foundations”
Unfortunately, many people today think weightlifting goes hand in hand with bodybuilding - a sport that is aesthetics oriented by definition, and has nothing to do with functional movement or performance whatsoever.
This leads people, especially women to refrain from lifting iron because of fear of "getting bulky", fear of injuries and fear of training next to a 6'3 230lbs monster.
The second problem is with weightlifters that fall into the disinformation and "bro science" trap, something that is very common in gyms, and in many of today's modern average fitness articles such as "10 ways to improve your squat" or "5 ways to become ripped".
Disinformation can lean to injury, which can in turn lead a beginner to quit weightlifting all together, and claim it's "bad" and "damaging". Further giving weightlifting a bad rep, and forcing a person to give up on an activity that is actually one of the safest ones to do.
So, I want to break a few myths for you, set a few facts straight, and show you weightlifting can actually be an amazing, powerful and even meditative experience:
Myth 1: Weightlifting is NOT Bodybuilding
How many of you walked into the free lifting area of the gym and saw a bunch of jacked, huge men puffing and huffing, surrounded by dumbbells, posing and checking themselves out in the mirror, and thought to yourself "Oh god, lifting weights is for such meatheads, I don't ever want to look like those guys.". I bet at least some.
How many of you do not feel comfortable or even intimidated by these guys? I bet at least some.
Well, for starters, out of personal experience (and a lot of it exists), I can honestly say that mostly - the bigger the bodybuilder the nicer they are.
External looks can be deceiving, and judging a book by it's cover is something we all do sometimes, it's rooted in our mind's conditioning. I still do it as well.
Meditation is a great way to see past those conditionings, but that is a topic of another day and another article.
Let's understand one thing about bodybuilding - it is not, by any means a functional sport.
A sport is defined by the ability to outperform others in a certain skill. For example, Danny will be better at a 100 meter dash than John if he can run 100 meters in less time than him.
In bodybuilding (and all of the sub-genres of it, i.e. Fitness, Physique, Bikini etc.) , the ultimate goal is to out-look your rivals, not to outperform them.
So basically, the entire goal of bodybuilding as a sport is aesthetics, and looks.
That is a hard thing to do as of itself, and requires much discipline and persistence, but it is by no means a performance-oriented sport, and therefore the techniques being used in bodybuilding are meant to increase muscle mass, and thus more of isolation based nature, and hardly functional based.
Functional training exercises are ones that support the body's ability for balance, strength, inter-muscular activity, movement capacity, joint and muscle range of motion and central nervous system activity.
Bodybuilding type exercises answer perhaps two of those criterions.
That being said, it is easy to understand how "Machine Bicep Curls" is hardly a functional exercise.
One can use weights indifferent ways, more performance oriented, and perform functional patterns and exercises to support movement capabilities that are otherwise harder to achieve such as explosive strength, maximal strength, stability and muscle endurance.
Not to be said those abilities can't be achieved without weights, but they can be achieved up to a certain point without weights.
Bottom line: Weights can be used in ways that are not aesthetic-oriented alone, like in bodybuilding, which is a sport that uses weights to achieve its goals, but also to support performance and functional movement abilities.
Myth 2: Weightlifting Makes You Bulky
Your body is a direct expression of your daily movement patterns.
If you are an avid couch potato, your body will look accordingly. Then again, you are a professional basketball player, your body will look completely different than if you are a professional golf player or a professional Bodybuilder.
Since many affiliate weightlifting to bodybuilding, many are afraid to end up looking like one if they lift too much weights. A bodybuilder's lifestyle is dedicated towards growing muscle mass and burning fat, meaning the entire goal of their training, nutrition, lifestyle and way of thinking is towards that end.
Their entire being is and essence is aesthetically oriented and is dedicated to, well, getting big, ripped and fit.
Moreover, getting to the level in which you look like a human cloud requires years upon years of living that lifestyle, with that mindset, consistently.
Years of persisting, pumping, eating, living and embodying the idea of "wanting to get bulky".
If your life goals are not to bulk up, and you are not aiming for that goal trust me, you won't get bulked up. There is no chance in hell you will find yourself looking like Phil Heath by accident.
If you are the average person who lifts weights 3 times a week, with a functional oriented program, while maintaining a healthy diet and good sleeping habits, and your goals is simply to preserve health, move better, be a bit stronger and live a healthy, pain free life you are most likely to look something like this:
Not too bad isn't it?
Myth 3: Weightlifting is Dangerous
As in any practice of sport and movement discipline, injuries are an integral part of the cycle.
It is only normal that sometime throughout your training career, regardless if its professional, semi - professional or amateur, your body will be sustained under some sort of limitation or another as a result of that practice.
(Note: I am not addressing dealing with injuries that occur outside of training, only injuries that occur as a direct result of training)
Most common injuries may include: Muscle pulls, Mechanical inflammations, Bulged Discs, Cartilage degeneration, Ligament pulls and strains and the like.
Most injuries are caused normally by either a wrong movement being done repeatedly when training or in our day by day routine, or by a certain muscular imbalance in our body.
If ignoring the preposterous "no pain no gain" mentality (another effect of bodybuilding culture), in which you are encouraged to "squeeze the muscle to failure" at each set, and completely destroy yourself in every workout, weightlifting can be very safe.
In fact, weightlifting, when done following proper technique and work loads is one of the safest ways to train.
Why then, the gym is full with inflammated people, injured people and stories about people who got injured while weightlifting?
Improper technique due to wanting to increase work load: Guys (and gals, but mostly guys), PLEASE - set your ego aside. if you can't lift it properly. you can't lift it. and it's OK! You will get there, but make sure you ALWAYS put technique before weight. Please don't do this:
Here is a good tip to improve your technique - Make videos! Take a video of yourself to make sure that your back is straight, that you are not "cheating", that you are using the right form and working on the correct muscles.
2. "No Pain No Gain" Mentality: How many time did you hear that slogan or any of it's variants when it comes to working out? Paul Check, in his book "Movement That Matters", says the term "working out" is faulty just because it represents this "no pain no gain" mentality by teaching people to wear themselves out completely in each workout, and that pain is only mental. People, listen to you body - AVOID PAIN.
Pain is the best indicator your body has to tell you "Hey buddy, your doing something wrong here, please stop it because I can only take it so much".
Know your limits, be conscious of your body, treat your body like you would treat your partner - love it, don't hurt it.
3. Improper Diet And Rest:
When training, it is important to understand that you are in essence causing tissue damage to the body.
The body has the miraculous ability to recover from almost anything you throw at it, and it is actually this recovery which makes you stronger, faster, more flexible, sturdier and healthier.
If you want the body to recover best and make the best out of the workouts, it's probably a good idea to provide it with all the conditions to do so.
A good diet is a key factor - supply your body with all the building blocks it needs to recover. Your body wont be able to sustain itself under a constant workload while under a "fruit cleansing" diet or a protein-free diet.
(For the best diet plan suiting for your individual needs, Contact me here)
Resting involves sleeping, time gaps between workouts, Meditation, relaxing activities massages, and anything your body needs to promote more and more recovery processes.
In summery, Weightlifting can be an amazing tool for you to go by when you train. As long as you know your path, your wants and limitations, and aspire to do things correctly, and with love, you will not see much risk in it, and you will see much, much return in the areas of strength, stability, looks, coordination, performance, conditioning, mental stamina, body introspective abilities, and overall confidence.
Weightlifting really is for everyone, and if looking past social conditionings, stigmas and fears - it is one of the best ways to achieve a healthy, conscious and able state of living.