As 2023 comes to a close (am I jumping the gun here in late august?!) It’s no secret that getting stronger has health benefits. We’ve heard over and over again now that gaining muscle and resistance training can increase our vitality into our golden years, increase our metabolism in our dad bod years, and make us a more suitable mate in our prime years.
With all of this data out there supporting lifting weights over just being a cardio queen on the elliptical, why are so many people still shying away from the DB rack?
We live in an information age where we can learn how to change our oil, build a birdhouse, or tile our bthroom from youtube videos, and strength training is no different, there are thousands of videos out there to show you how to lift correctly. In fact, I actually have a bunch myself! Watch them here!
Additionally, you can find so many free article son sets and reps, training splits, and programs all over the inter webs.
So then if we know we should do it, we see what we’re supposed to do, and how to implement it, why are so many people still not lifting heavy weights?
Excuse number 1: I don’t want to get huge.
While I can understand how many people can arrive at this concept, it’s honestly a slap in the face of all the thousands of hours of hard work and planned meals put in by the “too big” crowd. Not to be super blunt or anything here, but if at this point on your life you yet to harness the discipline to lift weights, you’ll not suddenly have the conviction to go hard enough often enough to really get to what you believe is “too big.”
If the average person with a busy life starts lifting weights, and actually TRIES their hardest to get to the city of HUGE, they will instead find themselves making stops along the way at lean town and tone ville, as well as the suburbs of “wow, check out that bicep vein!”
To get huge it takes so many extra calories, more hours a week than most people are willing to put into to training specifically for size, recovering well enough to grow, and often times the people that we see as enormous have a little extra supplementation going on by way of needle.
So if you’re too afraid to lift because you’ll get huge, I promise you that if you try your hardest to look like a mutant bodybuilder, you’ll instead end up with your dream physique.
Excuse number 2: I just want to slim down
What most people want when they say that want to be toned is actually a combination of losing body fat and gaining or maintaining muscle. We all know that skinny fat guy that runs half marathons for the free beer. Sure he can do cardio for days, but he’s go that little spare tire with him both on the trail and at the brewery. This phenomenon happens when there’s a demand for calorie burn, not enough coming in, and no stimulation to muscle… what happens is that a persons body will ultimately start burning through muscle for energy, and with less muscle comes a slower metabolism, and that person with a little extra flab and sticks for arms ends up trying to run farther to get lean, and gets stuck in this terrible hell of skinny fat!
So what’s the answer? Obviously lifting heavy.
Strength training stimulates your body to have to recover from a higher level of stress than cardio alone, and ultimately builds muscle that increases your metabolism. So if you can resist eating everything in sight, you’ll lean out by just having to fuel the recovery from the training!
If getting a 6 pack is your goal, stick to the barbell and the heavy lifting to keep th e metabolism ramped up long term!
Excuse number 3: I don’t want to get hurt
This is one of the largest reasons people push back against lifting heavy weights, and what ends up happening is those people end up with punk plastic coated dumbbells that weight less than the gym bag they carries in and never see any improvements.
Here’s where we get into the reason for an in person coach over youtube… everyone moves differently, and it takes a trained eye to asses what changes need to be made in the way you move to make sure you’re not only not going to get hurt, but also will get the most out of your range of motion and your training.
There are plenty of coaches out there, plenty of classes, and honestly it doesn’t take much for someone to claim they’re a strength coach, or a personal trainer. A good coach will be watching you with a keen eye, and be making small changes in your technique over time, rather than giving you blanket cues or trying to teach you everything at once.
Here’s a few more reasons why you truly need a good coach:
Learn What Heavy Feels Like.
So you’ve got perfect form, and the perfect program, but you’re still not seeing results? Often time learning what a heavy weight feels like is actually a learned skill as well. A trained strength coach will be able to watch your lifts, and ask good questions like “how did that feel?” I ask my clients to put the last rep they did on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the easiest lift ever, and 10 being that you couldn’t possibly do another rep. On top of listening to your feedback, they will also have a fgood idea of what the rep difficulty actually was for you. Chances are you’ll tell me it was an 8/10, but I can see it was a 5/10, and I can make a suggestion on what your next set should be.
If you’re learning on your own, you don’t have a guide to reassure you.
A good strength coach will remind you that struggling through a hard set is what creates the magic. In fact, I tell my clients that when they get to those difficult sets and everything in their body and mind is telling you to take a break, that’s when we squeeze and push, because those are the magic reps! Everything prior to that was meant to fatigue you enough to make those last few reps hard, so your body says “man, I better get stronger so I can handle this weight!”
A Good Coach Goes off Plan.
Something a good EXPERIENCED coach learns over the long term is that programs and plans are there for guidance, not dogma. Almost every day I’m changing things for clients based on the day, based on their movement, and based on how their lifting looks. Coaching is an art, and there is actually a TON of gray area when it comes to what a persons body needs for the day.
I may write a program for you, but if you’re under fed, didn’t sleep a lot because your dog ate yard apples and had terrible gas last night, and generally feel like garbage, I’ll watch how the energy levels are and adjust accordingly.
On the flip side, when I get through the heavy barbell portion and into the bodybuilding movements of the day, when I say 12 reps, what I actually mean is keep going until I see you struggling, and then I’ll probably loudly encourage you to get 2 more reps!
Lifting weights is hugely beneficial to your body, how you look, how you burn calories, and how you can stay lean for the long term. It’s EXTREMELY difficult to get “too big,” but if you try, you’ll get lean and strong first.
Find a good coach to learn from, and make sure that coach has some experience, listens to your needs, and really tailors your plan to you as you’re lifting.
If you’ve never had a coach, find a good one, and don’t be afraid to pay for experience, it could mean setting you up for long term high metabolism, a lean life, no dad bods, and a greatly reduced risk of injury!