Everyone should go to the bar as often as possible. In fact, the more you go, the more you will benefit. If you think this sounds too good to be true, it isn’t! We might just be thinking of different bars. Today we’re talking about going to the barbell!
Before you click away, look at just a few things lifting weights can and will do for you when done consistently and with good form:
-Increase Bone Mineral Density
-Increase Joint Health
-Increase Stability and Balance
-Increase Muscle Tone (think round glutes and six-pack abs)
-Increase Mental Strength
And this is just a small list! To talk about every benefit weight lifting can provide is beyond the scope of this article.
So why should YOU lift weights? If any one of the above benefits resonated with you, then you should lift weights! Think about it like this, when you reach for the allergy medicine, you may take it because the sinus pressure is building up and you feel like your head will explode at any minute. But once you take the medicine, you realize your red, dry eyes, and clogged nose are now problems of the past because your body has responded to the medicine in several ways. Sure, you learned to deal with the red eyes and constant nose blowing, but the pressure mounting behind your forehead was the kicker that sent you in search of relief. You may start lifting weights to reach one specific goal- to get a perkier derriere, or increase your bone strength, but your body will do one better and respond to the stimulus (weightlifting) in every way it knows how. Thus, improving bothersome aches or pains you may have learned to live with over the years, and providing you with multiple health benefits you may not have known were possible!
How do your bones grow and how do they get stronger? If you are predisposed to osteopenia or osteoporosis, weight lifting ought to be one of your number one weapons to combat bone degradation. Here is how bones grow: they respond to stress. Technically, you could go punch, kick, and slam your body into trees and walls to help induce a bone mineral density increase, sounds fun right? Another way is lifting weights under varying loads; do light weight with high reps, or moderate weight for medium to high reps, and even heavy weight for very few reps. Varying the amount of weights each week will help make bones stronger and keep you healthy.
I want to increase my flexibility and joint health, how do I do that? Here is how you get better joints and better flexibility through weightlifting: go through the ENTIRE range of motion for EVERY movement. Joints thrive on full ranges of motion, they love it! Going through a full range will also force your body to stretch its way back into more flexible positions. Two birds, one stone!
What does stability and balance have to do with weightlifting? Being flexible is great, but without stability and balance our joints would pop out all the time. There has to be a balance (pun intended) between the two. You want to have a healthy range of motion, but you also want to make sure you are stable throughout the entire movement. What exercise helps you stabilize the hips, increase ankle flexibility, hip flexibility, knee mobility, and boost abdominal strength? What are squats, Alex? Ding, ding, ding! Yes, squats work all these things and more, especially when done with good form and intention.
How can abs get tight while doing a deadlift, back squat, or even a bench press? Think about this, what is the one thing connecting your legs to your arms? Your midline! So if your trunk is weak and flimsy, you can forget about picking up any heavy deadlift or squatting anything worth your while. It would be like trying to move a rock with a pool noodle, not going to happen! So batten down the hatches and keep your trunk on lockdown, move some weight.
Have you ever found yourself in a stressful life situation? Of course you have, that’s the one thing life is constantly dishing out! When stress goes up, mental strength goes down. Have you ever tried squatting as much weight as you can for 10 repetitions in a row? One rep maxes are easy, by comparison, even though the weight is much heavier, because you only have to do one! Try 10 reps as heavy as you can go, it’s like taking medicine that tastes awful; so nasty going down, but the benefits that come after are bar none (pun intended there too). The next time you encounter a stressful situation in life, you can stop, think about how awful those squats for 10 reps felt and realize your issue isn’t as awful as the :30 seconds it took you to do those 10 reps. Lifting weights can show you how strong your body is, how resilient you are and help boost your confidence, morale, and teach you how to prevail, overcome, and conquer.
Look, lifting weights can be very uncomfortable, it reveals weaknesses and imbalances that we never knew existed. People don’t like feeling weak, uncoordinated, or unbalanced, but if we are not looking for our weaknesses so we can correct them, can we really say we’re getting stronger?
So go to the bar, the weightlifting bar! Start taking your training seriously, get away from the machines that make it easy to cheat on your posture. Stay away from the group classes that do the same weights over and over and over and over. Challenge yourself, get used to being uncomfortable. The changes you will see in your body composition and overall feeling will be well worth the time and effort.
My name is Trevor Bridges and I am a private trainer, I hold a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science, have a level one Sports Performance Coach certificate from USAW, I'm CrossFit level one certified, and I own and operate my own training facility alongside my wife in Tulsa, OK. Fitness is my passion and expertise and I want to help you master your body and mind so that you can unlock your full potential. I believe fitness should be fun, practical, challenging, and applicable to every day life. If you focus on the details and seek excellence in everything you do, success is guaranteed.