"Why Do You Lift Weights?"
You've likely found yourself explaining why you lift weights. You don't even have to be a coach or a personal trainer to go through this. People will wonder why you're into lifting if they meet you outside of the gym.
And you might've said something about strength, body comp, or health. These are the obvious things research supports. But none of that matters to a certain category of people who are actually resistant to resistance training. They'll do anything to prove why lifting won't work for their body or lifestyle.
Granted, you're not the fitness police. So you can smile and let people continue thinking what they want about weight training, or you can take the next step and share these less-obvious benefits with them.
There's evidence that exercise, specifically resistance training, can help in even the most severe cases, but it's important that we honor our scope as trainers and fitness enthusiasts and avoid blanket statements.
Resistance training improves mood in the short term – both during and after a workout. That mood improvement – through the release of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and feel-good hormones such as dopamine – boosts energy, optimism, and vitality.
Regular resistance training also affects sex hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone – optimizing them for surviving and thriving.
For those prone to anxiety, lifting provides a way to "aim" that energy at an activity that quite literally fatigues the neuromuscular system – a perfect recipe to lose the anxious edge and feel more at ease. The biggest thing to be cautious of when lifting in an anxious state is overtraining.
For those struggling with a bout of depression, the excitation of the load against your body will prime epinephrine release – potentially ripping you out of the fog and slog you find yourself in. Also, the dopamine, testosterone, and even the increase in cortisol levels after lifting can contribute to a more energetic and optimistic state of being.
In a depressed state, the hardest part will be STARTING. Once the intensity triggers the biochemical releases within the body, there's a higher probability of a great exercise session.
A lot of people are better able to manage their cycles of anxiety and depression via exercise. This is true whether or not they use medication. Individuals who engage in resistance training appear to have even greater benefits than those who engage primarily in cardiovascular training. Both, though, are essential to a healthy exercise lifestyle.
Confidence feels good, but it's fleeting. Efficacy, however, is a form of long-term confidence that has less of a peak but also less of a valley.
A person with higher efficacy knows they will have good and bad body image days. Just like they know there will be days where they can PR lifts without much strain and days where they won't even try to max out. It's knowing you have room to grow, yet being comfortable with yourself on the way there.
Resistance training – the process of shaping your body and performance through the act of overcoming external loads – is perfect for improving self-efficacy. Wrapping your hands around a steel bar week after week and consistently pushing the envelope in some way is a progressive experience. That progress proves that you can get better at anything you work towards as long as you put in the time and intensity.
Show up to the gym five days a week and hit most of your lifts with a focused and fiery mentality. You'll definitely get stronger, build more muscle, and develop other aspects of your physicality. Eat right and get adequate sleep seven days a week? You'll absolutely turbocharge your progress, feel better, and achieve your goals.
Plus, the act of pursuing one makes you want to do better with the other. There aren't too many dedicated lifters stoked about regularly skipping sleep to play video games, binge-watch TV or binge eat, for that matter.
And if you're crushing it in the gym, you're likely going into your workplace with some extra pep in your step and a belief that you can do anything if you focus and apply yourself. Resistance training is a pathway to confidence, sure. But more importantly, it's the pathway to being a confident person in the long term.
What happens when you take control of your health and fitness? You realize how much else in your life is within your control. You take ownership of your sleep schedule, your kitchen and the food that comes out of it, your job, and the attention you pay to your significant other.
Loading up the barbell and lifting the weight – even when you don't feel like it – allows you to tolerate and tackle other things you don't feel like doing. Your body gets stronger because of your efforts, but so does your mind. And at some point, the hard stuff often becomes the fun part.
You may also realize that most things that happen in your life that you don't have much control over – your commute, your tyrannical boss, your car problems, etc. – won't get better with complaining. Just like your body didn't get better with complaining. It got better with action.
As coach Michael Desanti says, "Complaining is just arguing against the universe with no intention of changing anything."
Bitching and moaning about things that happen in life won't solve anything; your actions will. And resistance training teaches us that. We learn what we can control and realize just how insignificant other problems can be in the grand scheme.
People who lift weights move better in general. They can throw the ball with their kids and dance at their friend's wedding. And they tend to avoid accidental injuries while doing mundane tasks. A person who regularly trains with weights builds stronger neuromuscular connections, which gives them more control of their body in space. That limits the risk of injuries in training and in life.
It also opens the door to an active life full of new and fulfilling experiences. They can build memories on the sides of mountains, balance on a surfboard in the ocean, or throw a ball across the yard. You don't just train to be good at training. You train to be better at life.
We already know you'll get more muscular, burn fat, build strength, and gain power through weight training. All of these things will contribute to a spicier and more fulfilling sex life.
Here are some of the other fun facts lifters don't often consider:
- Lifting through full ranges of motion can improve flexibility and mobility, making more positions possible.
- Working in higher rep ranges can improve your endurance which means round one will be less exhausting, and round two or three will be more attainable.
- Hoisting iron can boost your confidence, which is the thing that holds many back from getting naked in the first place.
- If you feel good about your body and all it can do, you'll be able to enjoy time with your partner instead of focusing on your own insecurities.
All in all, an improved sex life only makes you more attractive. You won't be walking around unsatisfied, desperate, and in need of validation. You'll look and act like a person who gets laid – all because you invest your time weight training.