The Wonders of Weight Lifting

The wonders of Weight lifting

By: Sara Howe

Lifting weights isn’t only about getting stronger and building muscle. It’s about so much more than changing/building your physical body. The mental benefits of lifting weights are often overlooked.  

First, what is weight training/strength training/lifting? What does that mean? 

What is weight training? What is going on in the body when we lift weights? Weight training is a type of strength training that uses weight for resistance. It stresses the muscles that cause them to adapt and get stronger, similar to how aerobic exercise strengthens your heart. Unfortunately, lifting weights causes microscopic tears in the muscle tissue. This may sound concerning, but this is how the muscle builds/develops/grows. The damage to the muscle from weight lifting triggers the healing process and prompts the body to try to adapt and prevent this damage in the future.

So how does the muscle grow? As your body heals from the microscopic tears from the weight lifting, satellite cells fuse and attach themselves to the damaged tissue to promote healing. Next, the cells connect with the muscle fibers, increasing their thickness. Eventually, these fused cells will transition into new protein strands. The strands increase the strength and the size of the muscle fibers, increasing the muscle mass you get from weight training regularly. That is the basis of how muscle grows. I could go into more detail, but for this blog post, I will leave it there.

How much weight training is enough to reap the benefits? So this answer can vary, but I will focus on the least amount you need for help. You can see significant improvement in your strength with just two to three 30-minute weight training sessions per week. If you are new to weight training, I recommend starting slowly. If you can afford it, hire a trainer; you want to learn PROPER techniques. If you are more experienced in weight lifting, I’d recommend 3-4x (five at most) per week for weight training sessions. I’d recommend no less than 1-2 rest days per week. 

There are a lot of articles out there that focus on the physical benefits of weight training and what exactly goes on in your body physically when you lift weights. This is super important, and I think some significant advantages of weight training are often overlooked and have nothing to do with building muscle. So instead, I will focus on what weight training teaches you and how lifting weights can help you build confidence, develop resiliency and discipline, and push through discomfort in OTHER areas of life. 

Here are SIX lessons that lifting weights can teach you:

*DISCLAIMER: There are many more than six, but for the sake of this article, I narrowed it down*

  1. Developing discipline 
  2. Pushing through discomfort 
  3. Dealing with setbacks
  4. Showing up when you don’t feel like it
  5. Building confidence 
  6. It can help with your relationship with your body 

I’ll break down each one, and how you develop it in the gym can translate to life in general. 

  1. Developing discipline: If you want to feel/see benefits from lifting weights, you must do it regularly. Getting on some progressive overload program is going to be the best bet. Progressive overload means you are increasing demand on your muscles weekly in at least one of these ways–increase in load/set/reps/complexity. This will also help you with discipline in other areas of your life. Once you see that you are getting results from a consistent schedule in your workout routine, you will be more likely to stick with other things in life too. It takes consistency to reap the benefits of many things in life. Once I started a progressive overload program, I began to reap the benefits, and it made me more inclined to be consistent with other goals in my life too outside of the gym. 
  2. Pushing through discomfort: This is a big one! In the gym, when you are lifting weights, you will make minimal progress if you are always comfortable. Part of getting stronger is being uncomfortable and pushing through discomfort. The last few reps in your sets should be challenging. Once you accept that it will be painful, you will crave that feeling. (at least I do!) This translates to outside the gym because once you get used to that feeling, you will be more tolerant of being uncomfortable in general. You will know that it is temporary and that the surface will pass. My patience has increased in other areas of life due to my willingness to be uncomfortable. 
  3. Dealing with setbacks: You will have setbacks in the gym. Sometimes, things pop up and take you away from your gym schedule. That’s okay. There may be times that you have to take time off for medical reasons, things going on in your family, work, etc. This may cause you to come back and start a bit lighter with your weights or take more breaks due to fatigue, etc. However, once you get back on your schedule, you will be back to feeling stronger again! This translates to life because it can help you to understand that setbacks are normal and a big part of life. Instead of trying to avoid setbacks or push back, sometimes leaning into what is going on is the best thing you can do. What you resist will persist. Success in life won’t always be linear–there will always be ups and downs. How do you deal with those moments? 
  4. Showing up when you don’t feel like it: I want to clarify one thing. If you are sick, this is a time to rest, don’t show up and push through actual sickness. Your body needs rest during this time. Showing up when you don’t feel like it means you don’t show up for yourself even though you are not sick, well fed, slept well, etc.–it’s just your mind giving up. This is when it’s most important to show up. Don’t give up on yourself. When you show up for yourself when you don’t feel like it, you establish the behavior of the type of person you are/want to become. Build that behavior. This translates to life because there will be SO MANY things in life that you don’t want to show up. After all, your mind is telling you stories. Show up anyway, and I promise you’ll feel better about it. You’ll be proud of yourself, and you’ll keep showing up day after day. That’s what it takes. 
  5. Building confidence: Lifting weights has been one of my biggest confidence boosters. Feeling strong in the gym helps me have more confidence in myself outside the gym. Lifting heavy and proving that you CAN DO IT feels SO good. You are so much stronger than you think–lifting weights proves that inside the gym, which translates to outside the gym too. Doing something you don’t believe you can do is empowering; now, I’ve taken more risks and had more confidence outside the gym. 
  6. Can help with the relationship with body: If you have read my story about my relationship with my body, you know it hasn’t always been the best. Check one of my earlier articles. Lifting weights has caused me to look at my body in a different light. For a while, it was all about what it looked like; lifting weights changed that mindset, and it caused me to look at my body for what it DOES for me. It’s so cool to see that mindset shift, and now I have an immense amount of respect for my body that I didn’t have before I started lifting weights. Your body is so much more than its physical appearance. Sure, you can have aesthetic goals, but don’t forget to thank your body for what it does for you daily because it does A LOT. 

Lifting weights is one of the best things you can add to your life. It’s not just about building muscle but building your character as well. Learn to navigate the highs and lows as you grow into the best version of YOU! Remember, it’s about the process, not just the end goal. 

Follow Sara on Instagram 

NFM Staff
Author: NFM Staff

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