Friday, December 17, 2010

Why Lifting Heavy is the Key to Weight Loss

I think Ronnie Coleman, 7-time former Mr. Olympia and champion bodybuilder, said it best when he said, "Everybody wants to be a bodybuilder....but nobody wants to lift this heavy-ass weight!!" Aside from the fact that he's been using roids (which allows him to go 'super heavy' - as he says), he does make a valid statement!

Are you guilty of going too light? If so, you may not be seeing the results you'd like. Let's learn more about why lifting heavier weights will change your entire body.

You know that losing fat involves increasing your metabolism. What you may not know is that muscle plays a huge role in raising metabolism. A pound of muscle burns about 10-20 calories a day while a pound of fat burns 5 calories. That means any growth in your muscle tissue is going to help you burn more calories all day long. In fact, strength training has all kinds of great effects on your body like:
  • Increasing resting metabolic rate so you burn more calories, even while at rest.

  • Making you lean and slim - muscle takes up less space than fat so, the more you have, the slimmer you are

  • Strengthening bones and connective tissue (fascia), which can protect your body from injuries in daily life

  • Enhancing balance and stability

  • Building confidence and self-esteem

However, this only works if you're using enough weight to stimulate muscle growth. In other words, if you can lift the weights you've chosen (for most exercises) more than 16-20 times, you might not see the kind of fat loss you would if you increased the load.

So, why don't we lift more weight? For some, lifting weights is scary, especially if you've never done it before. The machines....the dumbbells....the people who seem to know what they're's enough to make anyone skip weights altogether. Aside from that, there are other fears that invade our minds, such as:

  • It feels awkward/weird - The goal of weight training, if you didn't know, is to lift as much weight as you possibly can (with good form) for the number of reps you've chosen. In daily life, we typically don't push ourselves to fatigue in anything we do, so this idea may not only feel foreign, it may feel downright miserable. That's one reason it's best for beginners to gradually work towards that.

  • Fear of injury - Because our muscles burn when we challenge them with resistance, people often feel they're injuring themselves when they lift. Injuries can be a real fear for beginners since injury can occur if you max out before your body is ready for it. Taking it slow while still challenging your body will help protect you from injury.

  • Confusion - When you haven't lifted weights before, you may not know what's too heavy and what's too light. It may take some time to get a feel for your body and what it can handle. This is the time to figure things out slowly through trail & error. Be patient with yourself as you'll know what feels right in due time.

  • Fear of getting bulky - There's still that old myth running around that men should lift heavy and women should lift light to avoid getting big and bulky. Women, please don't buy into it! That's a bunch of BS!! Lifting heavy weights WILL NOT MAKE YOU HUGE -you simply don't have the testosterone levels to build big muscles. Lifting heavy weights WILL HELP YOU LOSE FAT.

  • Fear of pain - The other thing about lifting weights is the psychological factor. The discomfort level associated with training to fatigue is pretty high. If you haven't lifted weights before, you may not be able to overcome that discomfort enough to lift as heavy as you're capable of. Again, this is one reason it's best to err on the side of caution (if you need to), while always working towards more challenges and more weight.

These fears often keep people lifting the same amount of weight for weeks, months or even years. Most of these fears are unfounded. However, if you take time to ease into a weight training program, work slowly through trial & error figuring out optimal workloads for the muscle fatigue needed make your muscles grow, you'll start seeing & making progress before you know it.

As I always say - train hard, train smart and get to it!


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