If you had to pick one thing to do, to have the biggest impact on your health and fitness,
You should lift weights.
Resistance training has the ability to do many things for your health, in the shortest amount of time.
When you are on a safe and effective program, lifting 3 days / week, for 45 minutes, is enough to elicit all the benefits listed below.
Research has shown that resistance training, lifting weights, has profound effects on:
- Building Muscle
- Bone Density
- Fat Loss
- Lower-back pain,
- Sleep quality
- Increased Metabolism
Weight training also positively affects risk factors such as:
- insulin resistance,
- resting metabolic rate,
- glucose metabolism,
- blood pressure,
- gastrointestinal transit time,
These factors help control diseases such as;
- heart disease
So, knowing this, why are so many people afraid of lifting?
Why aren't the gyms packed with people lifting weights?
People are afraid, that is why.
We are scared of what we don't know and understand.
Most people in their 30's, 40's, and 50's have been trained to think that they have to run their way to health.
They think they need to, Eat low fat food and spend countless hours on a treadmill.
This does not work long term.
In fact what usually happens, is you try this method above, crush your central nervous system, and then when you stop the diet/workout frenzy because you are exhausted, you are worse off than before.
For many, the only experience with resistance training they have, may be limited to bodybuilders, meat heads, and crazy intense power lifting gyms.
Or you may have heard horror stories of people getting injured, and think...
"Why would i want to do that"?
I agree, you don't want to do that. You work out to feel better, not to get injured and be worse off.
On the other end of the spectrum, some programs, will throw you on a cardio machine for 50-75% of your workout, and run you into the ground.
This method only works temporarily. After a few weeks, your metabolism get used to this type of exercise and stops creating effective results. It starts to increase the chronic stress on your body.
Chronic stress leads to fat storage. Your body is trying to preserve itself.
The stigma is that you have to crush yourself with cardio, or olympic lifts, in order to see results. Not True. There is a smarter and more effective way to get in shape.
There is a different way to lift weights, that is sustainable, safe, effective, and won't consume your whole life.
As we age, we need resistance training more and more.
Resistance training builds bone density. Who wants to fall and break a hip? Not me.
Hours of cardiovascular training is not the answer.
It may seem strange for someone as myself, who is an Ironman triathlete,
to tell you that countless hours of cardio isn't the answer to health and fitness.
Yes, i am a triathlete, but I am also a strength coach to competitive athletes, and a personal trainer to hundreds of adults.
I know first hand, having personally used and coached, both modalities, cardio and lifting,
that lifting weights will give you the most prolonged bang for your buck.
In fact, lifting weights, is the only thing that allows me to train as a triathlete and not injure myself.
Too many endurance athletes are missing this key aspect of training, and will continue to have nagging injuries that hold them back.
When I am trying to get in peak physical condition, I reduce my cardio hours, focus on lifting 3 days / week, sleeping 7-8 hours for recovery, and getting my nutrition on point.
Excessive cardio sharpens the mind, but breaks down the body.
Cardio training only ramps up your metabolism while you are performing the training.
Resistance training will allow you to keep your metabolism up, for hours after you stop.
Lift for 45 minutes and burn more calories for hours after. More bang for your buck.
What To Do
My recommendation is to find a coach or trainer that can prescribe a safe and effective program for you. Not what works for them, but to be a detective and figure the best approach for you.
Lifting weights is very individualized. Every body is different.
We all have different injury histories, different anatomy, and different goals.
Not everyone should train like a 23 year old athlete.
This may work great for some people, depending on injury history, years of lifting experience, and age.
But it isn't the answer for the most people.
Here is my general recommendation, to build a healthy happy body.
Lift weights - 3 x week for 30-60 minutes.
Walk or light cardio- 2-4 hours / week.
Don't lift to failure, leave 2 reps in the tank each set.
Walk, Bike, Run, Swim, kayak. etc. Do something you enjoy.
I hope this helps out. Don't be afraid to lift weights. Just find someone to help you and get educated on what does and does not work for you as an individual.