In spite of what you may have seen or read on social media, lifting heavy weights does not necessarily result in huge, bulky muscles. As a matter of fact, lifting heavy could lead to injury and considerable time off training in recovery. What is more important than lifting heavy, is a commitment to a workout regimen that would eventually result in significant muscle mass gain over time.
What are your expectations from training with heavy weights? The benefits of lifting heavy weight goes beyond just to build muscle mass. So the next time you go to the gym, consider lifting heavy weights because of the reasons listed in this post.
How Heavy is Too Heavy?
What may be heavy for one person, may feel light to another, and vice versa. The definition of “heavy” is relative and therefore arbitrary.
If you engage in resistance training it all boils down to the number of repetitions you can actually perform on a particular weight. So a weight being heavy really has nothing to do with the load on a gym equipment, but more to do with the weight you are capable of lifting repeatedly during a scheduled workout routine.
What this suggests is that if you can’t maintain good form over a number of repetitions, then it simply means that the weight you are training with is too heavy for you. For example, if you can do 20 goblet squats with 40 pounds of weight, but only 2 chest presses with the same weight, the weight for the former workout is considered “light” while the same weight for the latter workout could be regarded as “heavy”.
What are the Benefits of lifting Heavy Weights?
Besides improving your physique and enhancing your strength, lifting heavy has many other advantages. In fact, resistance training offers you a number of fitness and health benefits other than your typical muscle building ideas and some of the other benefits include;
- increased lean muscle mass,
- retention of lean muscle mass during periods of caloric restriction,
- increased fat oxidation and lipolysis,
- reductions in visceral fat as well as subcutaneous fat, and
- improvements in body composition.
If you really put in the work in your local gym, you will see results no matter how old you may be. Actually, increasing your training load can have significant positive effects on older adults. The elderly population can benefit greatly from weight training due to the many ways in which it can enhance their health and overall well-being.
Here is a run-down of some key benefits of lifting heavy:
#1: Improve Bone Strength
Our skeletons show the effects of time the same way our bodies do. They bear your weight constantly; neglecting the health of your bones will put you at risk of multiple bone fractures down the road.
Osteoporosis is a condition associated with old age in which bones become brittle and weak, increasing the risk of fractures in the event of an accidental fall. This condition can greatly decrease the quality of life for the elderly by causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the bones and joints.
It’s understandable if people with fragile bones are reluctant to lift heavy weights; however, studies show that those with the weakest bones benefit the most from strength training.
Heavy resistance training is now known to increase muscle strength, bone density, and the quality of life in adults aged 65 years and over.
#2: Helps Prevent Muscle Loss and Builds Muscle
Heavy weight training not only results in muscle growth, but also helps prevent muscle atrophy. Weight training is known to be an anti-aging remedy by improving your quality of life and long-term health. You can reverse the loss of lean muscle mass, strength, and power that comes with aging when you engage in resistance training using weights that are just right for your training goals.
One potential side effect of a calorie-restricted diet for weight loss is muscle atrophy. If you’re not getting enough protein while dieting, your body will start burning muscle and fat for energy. Studies show that increasing the weight you lift to a challenging level helps stop muscle atrophy and preserves the muscle you already have.
#3: Improves Body Composition
Heavy weight training is an effective means to alter one’s body composition. Increasing the intensity and duration of your workouts has been shown to hasten fat loss and has a positive effect on muscle hypertrophy.
You can tell if you’re changing your body composition by building muscle and losing fat at the same time if you measure both. Furthermore, since changes in muscle and fat don’t occur overnight, tracking your body fat every 4 to 6 weeks will give you a more accurate picture of your progress.
#4: Improves Functional Performance
As we get older, it can be more challenging to maneuver around. Because of the resulting pain and discomfort, even performing routine tasks can be a struggle. The quality of your life will rise if you have less trouble getting around. That’s something that can be aided by weightlifting.
Studies have shown that training with heavy weights instead of lighter weights can improve your strength and functional performance. And this also applies to the elderly.
Explain Safety Tips
If you’re ready to begin lifting heavy weights, there are some precautions you should take into account first.
It is important to seek the reassuring assistance of a qualified coach or personal trainer (if you can afford one). A trainer will put you through the proper form and technique for lifting heavy weights in whatever workout you intend doing. You could also look for a group health and fitness program to join, especially one with a primary focus on resistance training. But if you intend lifting heavy loads without the guidance of a trainer, it is important that you perfect your workouts first of all.
Once you are able to execute your workouts with good form, you will be able to minimize your risk of injury when you eventually start lifting heavy. Start with loads which ensure that you achieve perfect form for a number of repetitions which could be 8, 10, 15, 20 and so on depending on your capability. In time, your body gets used to lifting heavy with each training session. What is required of you is consistency and patience, do not be in a hurry to lift heavy loads, follow a gradual process that would eventually get you to your targeted training weight.
The advantages of weight training extend far beyond the aesthetic benefits of increased muscle mass. Heavy resistance training is beneficial for people of all ages because it enhances body composition, strengthens bones, and helps you feel younger.
It is also important that you do not forget the fact that weight training is serious business. Therefore, before starting a new weight training routine, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor and coach or trainer first.