8 Ways Lifting Heavy Weights Can Transform Your Life
Beginning a fitness journey can be a gamechanger for anyone. Too many people, though, are under the mistaken impression that cardio is all you need for a healthy lifestyle and a fit body.
It’s a common sight: people slaving away on cardio machines, never once even looking at the dumbells or squat rack. What gives?
Lifting heavy weights has been coming into popularity over the past few years, but it still gets a reputation of being just for bodybuilders. Some people still think that women who lift weights will automatically get bulky (any seasoned bodybuilder wishes this were true!).
If you’ve been spinning your wheels on the treadmill, or you haven’t yet started your fitness journey, this might just be the article for you.
Keep reading to learn how weight training can totally transform your life.
1. Increased Endorphins
Lifting heavy weights isn’t only good for your muscles. It’s also good for your brain and overall wellbeing.
All bodies are different. As a general rule, the more weight you lift (that your body is capable of lifting, that is) the more endorphins will flood your body. People who are experienced in cardio know this feeling well and refer to it as a runner’s high.
With weightlifting, it’s a bit different.
Simply phoning it in at the gym won’t give you that endorphin rush. You can’t lift light weights and sit on the bench for more time than you’re lifting and expect the results that you want.
If you commit to a heavy and high-intensity lifting routine, you will feel the benefit of endorphins.
But why do they matter?
Well, endorphins do several things. For exercise, they help soothe the pain. They also elevate your mood and lower stress levels.
When you’re feeling moody or stressed, hit the gym!
2. Fat Loss
Too many people get stuck in the trap of thinking that the only way to lose fat is to constantly do cardio.
This simply isn’t true.
Weight training is an effective tool for weight loss, especially in combination with short bursts of high-intensity cardio.
While you may not be losing fat while you’re gaining muscle (though beginners certainly can), once you’re ready to trim down, strength training is still a great way to get back into your ideal shape.
Adding muscle slightly boosts your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories over time. The average heavy weight session can also continue allowing your body to burn calories long after your workout is complete (unlike cardio).
Only working out to lose weight rather than maintain weight, gain muscle, or lose fat, can stunt your progress.
Cardio and weight lifting are both essential parts of a fitness routine. Keep your heart and lungs healthy while also holding onto your muscle (and maybe even building some).
3. Muscle Gains
This is an obvious outcome of lifting heavy weights, but this article would be a bit lacking without it.
If you want the muscle gains that you see on fitness models, the way to start is by weight training.
You won’t be able to start heavy, but if you’re interested in adding size, you’ll be working towards progressive overload. You’ll also need to load up on protein and add some more calories to your diet (which might seem unnatural to someone who’s getting into fitness to “tone up”.
Not everyone can get large muscles naturally, but you can give yourself the best chance possible by lifting heavy weights and ensuring that you have a good recovery method or routine.
4. That Toned Look
Have you ever seen a model or celebrity and thought “wow, I want to look like that“?
If it was because of their face, we can’t help you.
If it was because of their body, however, you might have a shot. So many people are under the impression that you have to be skinny to be toned. “Toned” has become something of a buzzword in the fitness industry.
It doesn’t seem to mean much anymore, but the general consensus is “a tight body with visible muscles and an athletic look”.
How do you get that?
Well, your body fat percentage will likely have to be pretty low. Low is relative. The amount of muscle that you have underneath your body fat will also change the way that you look, as will the way that your body carries fat.
Building up muscle and losing fat through weight training will give you that toned look that you’re looking for as long as you’re committed.
5. Functional Strength
You won’t just look better when you weight train for your health.
You’ll also be stronger, obviously, and that strength can come into play in some serious and surprising ways.
The average American isn’t very fit. The majority of American people don’t participate in any strength-building exercises.
It’s actually theorized (and likely) that we’re getting weaker by the generation due to an easier life and more required sedentary days due to desk work.
How many things in your life would be easier if you were stronger?
Would it be easier to open jars? Would it be easier to carry around your children or pets?
When you move, would it be easier to move furniture either by yourself or with assistance from a friend?
Take it from experience, yes.
You also might find yourself more able to do “cool things” with your new strength, even if you’re not “super fit”. You may find that it’s easier to get out of bed or get up from the floor. These are all functional abilities that weight training can help develop.
6. Improved Balance
When you’re lifting heavy weights (especially dumbells and barbells), you’re also working on your core. That’s right, you’re building core strength without doing a single sit-up or Russian twist.
Your body is working to maintain the balance that’s otherwise offset by the addition of heavy weight.
This, as long as you’re moving correctly and maintaining proper form, will help you build strong abdominal and back muscles, improving your balance overall even when you’re no longer training.
This won’t happen all at once, and you might not notice until your balance is challenged.
Here’s an example.
If you’re someone who did yoga or tried to, long before you ever started strength training, you may know the struggles of some of the more delicate poses. Yogi squats, tree poses, and the dreaded crow may have been out of your skillset depending on your level of balancing ability.
After a few months of weight lifting, you might find that revisiting those poses yields a very different result. You still need to work on them, naturally, but your core will be stronger. The balance will come to you with more ease.
You may find that you’re less clumsy, more agile, and even better at your cardio due to your increased balance. You might even find yourself able to do some Ninja Warrior-Esque moves if you stick with it.
7. Better Sleep
Do you have trouble sleeping?
Starting an intense workout routine might be just the ticket to getting a good night’s rest.
Your body needs sleep, and it’s extra important if you’re putting yourself through some serious weight training. You need to recover!
When you’re done a workout, the endorphins might have you feeling pumped up and ready to take on the day. When it’s bedtime though, you might be asleep before you hit the pillow.
Fatigued muscles need to rest. Your body knows this. Sleep encourages tissue growth and repair. You can more easily get that rest after a heavy workout, not only because you’re exhausted, but because exercise can regulate some important bodily functions like blood pressure and metabolic rate which contribute to your rest.
Sleep more deeply with a heavy lifting routine.
8. A Boost in Confidence
This works in several different ways.
We mentioned endorphins at the beginning of the article. They still come into play here. Those “feel good” hormones flooding your brain will give you that extra pep in your step.
You’ll also look “better”, or the version of better that you’re striving for. You’ll be losing fat, gaining muscle, and overall morphing your body. There’s something really incredible about knowing that the work that you’re doing is having a real impact on your appearance.
How can you not feel confident when you’re building your own body?
There’s also something cool that happens while you’re on your weightlifting journey. It starts to feel like a competition with yourself.
When you move to heavier weights it feels like you’re leveling up your character in a videogame, except you’re the character. There’s a sense of pride that comes from that leveling. Even though it might not be outwardly competitive, knowing that you’re gaining new abilities can really boost your confidence levels.
You should be confident. It’s hard work!
Everyone Should Be Lifting Heavy Weights
You’re doing yourself a serious disservice at the gym if you aren’t lifting heavy weights, or at least working towards it. If you want a stronger body, more functional ability, and maybe just a more toned look, there’s no better way to go about it.
If you want to boost those endorphins and feel more confident, you know what you need to do.
For more posts on the benefits of exercise, or to grab some of our unique supplements that can help you in and out of the gym, visit our site.