Welcome back to Living Purposefully, friends!
How is everyone’s week going? I always find that I feel 1 of 2 ways when going back to work after a weekend (and especially after a holiday weekend): either refreshed and ready to get back to my schedule or wishing for more time to relax and take a breather. Luckily, I’ve been feeling pretty optimistic this week and happy to be back with my kiddos and on top of my gym routine. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s Thursday and almost the weekend 😉 As always, feel free to let me know in the comments how your week has been!
If you have followed me for longer than 2 seconds, you’ve probably noticed me post or talk about something weightlifting-related. It’s no longer a habit and has become pretty second-nature to me, which I am so grateful for. My love goes out to all those people just beginning to set healthy habits because it can be seriously hard sometimes to get in the habit of things!
Weightlifting has my heart and is something I see myself doing for as long as my body allows me to. It has the ability to completely transform a person, not only physically, but mentally as well. Today I want to share my personal fitness account and how it’s changed from when I was 16 and just beginning to work out on my own until now, at the ripe ‘ol age of 23 😉
I began exercising on my own after one volleyball season in high school had ended, admittedly because I was afraid of gaining weight (16 year old melodrama, clearly), and I just started slowly with cardio on the treadmill. I worked my way up from running 10 minutes straight to 20 minutes up to 30 minutes straight. After reaching the point to where I could run for 30 minutes (or around 3 miles) straight, I began to feel a bit restless and wanted the challenge of adding muscle finally. Cardio is great for sooo many things, but if it’s muscle definition or strength you’re looking for, you have to look elsewhere to create the stimulation that growing muscles require.
I veered off from the treadmill and into more circuit-style and HITT (high intensity interval training) workouts and this entertained me for awhile and I definitely enjoyed the addition of anaerobic exercise into my life.
After I began finally adding some muscle with bodyweight exercises, I started seeing more and more about the benefits of weightlifting on social media, magazaines, tv shows, and basically any platform designed to reach people. It was super intimidating to get started and I could talk for hours on why it took me so long to begin, but I talk a bit about that in a previous post.
Today I just want to share some of the greatest benefits that can be reaped through weightlifting and hopefully encourage some of y’all to get started and fall in love with it like I did.
Disclaimer: While I do have my Bachelor’s degree in Corporate Fitness, I am not certified in personal training, so please don’t feel like you have to take any of my advice to heart.
Benefit #1= Muscle Definition (Duh)
- I know this seems like a common sense thing, but so many people mistake hours and hours of cardio as a way to gain definition.
- Muscles need stimulation to grow, and you can only add so much stimulation through cardio (i.e. treadmills, bikes, bodyweight exercises, etc). Adding extra weight through barbells, dumbbells, and machines is going to create the “damage” and stimulus needed to grow your muscles.
- While I am preaching about the benefit of muscle definition, let me be clear when I say that you w i l l n o t b e c o m e b u l k y f r o m l i f t i ng w e i g h t s. I wish I could drill this into everyone’s head because I know it is such a common misconception! I was the same way until I actually did some research through scientific articles and personal experiences and found that this couldn’t be more false.
- The average adult male’s testosterone’s levels have a range of 270-1070 ng/dl and an average adult woman’s testosterone’s levels will only hit a range of 15-70 ng/dl. This means that without outside influences (aka taking steroids), a woman’s body is unable to reach anywhere near the levels of testosterone needed to get “bulky.”
- Unless you are consuming more calories than you burn daily (being in a caloric surplus), lifting weights is only going to burn fat and add muscle without adding muscle and fat, inhibiting the “bulky” look most women fear.
Benefit #2= Better Body Composition
- When looking to begin a weight loss regimen, it’s important to remember what kind of weight you’re looking to lose.
- Adding cardiovascular exercise is going to be beneficial for burning calories, especially if you have more than just a couple of pounds to lose, but cardiovascular exercise also burns quite a bit of muscle if gaining muscle/definition is your goal.
- Weightlifting not only helps reduce the amount of fat you have, but it also adds on the muscle that people are looking for and helps prevent the “skinny fat” look.
- When I was solely doing cardio for exercise, I was thin and didn’t look out of shape in clothes, but underneath my clothes I could tell that there wasn’t much muscle. That’s what spurred my longing for a different form of exercise that would “shape” my body. I feel like this is something a lot of people can relate to!
- If you’ve ever done a body fat measurement, the best way to reduce this number is obviously going to be to decrease the amount of fat mass you have on you. Instead of doing tons of cardiovascular exercise to try and lose this fat and risking the loss of precious muscle, your best bet is going to be to increase your muscle mass through weight training (and of course a good diet, which I’ll cover in another post!)
Benefit #3= Greater Daily Caloric Burn
- If you’ve ever taken an exercise science-y class, you’ve probably heard of your BMR, or basal metabolic rate. This is basically just how many calories your body burns by existing. So metabolic processes, respiration, temperature regulation, and other vital functions all burn calories without you even expending any effort. Here’s where the cool part is: muscle burns more calories than fat does, just by simply being there. So when you increase the amount of muscle you put on through weightlifting, you are really burning more calories throughout the day, just by being alive!
- There are a few components to total daily energy expenditure (or TDEE): basal metabolic rate, the thermic effect of food, and physical activity. Your basal metabolic rate makes up for the largest effect on TDEE (about 70%) and so your best bet at burning the most amount of calories without spending hours in the gym every day is going to be adding more muscle mass through weightlifting.
- When I was only doing cardio for my exercise and was “skinny fat,” I was only consuming around 1200 calories and still feeling like I needed to diet more. Around 6 months after I began weightlifting in 2013, I began to notice that I could eat around 200-300 more calories each day without feeling bloated or like I was gaining weight. Now I eat around 2000 calories to maintain my weight and around 1800 calories for when I am cutting weight. This is an increase in 800 calories simply becauase my body needs more fuel (specifically more carbs and protein) to lift weights and build the muscle I want to build.
Benefit #4= Stress Reliever
- If you’re anything like me, sometimes the only thing you want to do after a rough day is grab a bottle of wine and go to town. While I definitely do this every once in awhile after a rough day, my favorite way to de-stress nowadays is to hit the gym.
- We’ve all seen the iconic Legally Blonde scene when Elle Woods says “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.” I’m sure you all can personally attest to this statement! Whether it be cardio, weightlifting, or simply walking, endorphins are going to be released.
- Endorphins aren’t the only feel-good chemical released during exercise; dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine are all released as well during any sort of physical activity.
- While I love and encourage any kind of exercise for endorphins and mood-enhancing, I personally find that lifting weights leaves me more relaxed and positive than any other kind of exercise. Nothing feels more stress-relieving than lifting heavier than you did the last time or doing more reps than before and feeling the oh-so-good buuuurn in your muscles.
- Another thing I love about weightlifting is that it leaves me more energized than before. I still do cardio and enjoy reaping hearth-health benefits, but cardio always leaves me sleepier than I was before. This is especially annoying if I’m working out in the morning because I don’t know about you guys, but dragging my feet at my job surrounded by kids is not fun. When I lift in the mornings before work, I feel like I have the extra spring in my step that makes my days much better!
- The next time you’re feeling extra stressed out about something, head to the gym and lift some heavy weights and I bet you will feel 100x better than you did before.
Benefit #5= Anti-Aging Benefits
- While I am only 23 and clearly don’t have many, if any, signs of aging yet, I know that prevention is the best medicine. There are numerous benefits on your body from weightlifting and science is only proving more and more each day!
- Women lose bone mass each year after they reach a certain age and while there is no way to completely deter all bone mass losses, weightlifting is a certain way to continually strengthen bone mass.
- Weightlifting is actually proven to increase bone density and there’s no better way to prevent weak bones and decrease chances for injury than strengthening our bones through the impact of weightlifting.
- A common misconception is that weightlifting can damage our joints as we age. This is actually completely false and the opposite is, in fact, true.
- Strengthening our ligaments, joints, and the surrounding muscles helps decrease our chances for injuries during exercise and just activities of daily living.
- The only way that weightlifting injures our joints is through incorrect form or too heavy of weight.
- I honestly can say that my body has never felt like it moves better than when I started weightlifting. Of course, soreness is a side effect of weightlifting, but after the soreness subsides and you begin to gain more muscle, I think you’ll too begin to notice that your body moves a bit more fluidly and feels less achy.
- Any girl knows that the telltale sign of age is going to be wrinkly, paper-y skin. Exercise has been proven to be beneficial to skin in the long haul for a plethora of reasons.
- When we exercise, our blood flow is increased and this helps our skin get the oxygen it craves. Oxygen is so vital to our skin cells and helps keep our skin fresher, younger, and bouncier than if we were to go without exercise.
- This increased blood flow also removes waste products from our skin cells.
- Studies have been done on women who exercise frequently compared to women who don’t and have found that those who do exercise frequently have thicker dermis layers in the skin. Thicker dermis layers=plumper, more youthful skin!
- There are numerous examples of women (and men) bodybuilders over the age of 60 who look half their age that you could google for hours. While not everyone is going to be (or wants to be) a bodybuilder, everyone can garner the anti-aging benefits through lifting just a couple (2-4x) per week.
Alllllright. So obviously I could talk about this for hours and while it clearly pains me to be concise (hello, 2000 words), I think those benefits mentioned are probably my top reasons why I love to weightlift! I seriously think that once you make weightlifting a habit, it’ll eventually become a hobby and you’ll begin to see yourself transform into a way happier, healthier person.
If you ever have any questions about getting started or just questions in general about weightlifting, feel free to text me, message me, or leave a comment and I would love to chat with you! Everyone deserves to feel at their most confident at every age and I can personally attest to the great changes my body has felt since delving into weightlifting.
I also want to add that any exercise is going to incredibly beneficial for you in the long haul and I always encourage any sort of movement, even just walking! Weightlifting just happens to be the exercise that keeps me wanting to go back for more.
In the comments, let me know what your favorite kind of exercise is and why! I would love to hear from you 🙂