Note: I am a qualified Physical Fitness trainer, having graduated from the Australian Institute of Fitness in 2008. However, these are just my own techniques that work for me. If they work for you too, party on!
Before I even begin, READ THIS:
Forget everything about lifting weights except simply standing up (or sitting down), watching tv, and lifting two barbells straight up in the air (whilst engaging your core and bending your knees, for safety).
Do not count reps or sets, just aim for roughly 30-40 minutes. After two full days off, you’re ready to go again (proven to be the most effective duration and ratio-per-week for muscle growth).
The reason why I decided to start with that is so that I could INSTANTLY Shaman-slap your forehead and get you to immediately dispel any of your preconceived notions and judgements about weightlifting. The biggest myth about the practice is that there has to be a culture or stereotypes inextricably associated with it. Not so.
In fact, the at-home, self-motivated (no Gym membership needed), customised-session weightlifter is better equipped to stay consistent throughout life than anyone who goes to the Gym.
When starting something new, make the process as easy as possible. Buy a cheap set of barbells, and NEVER keep them on the ground. Always keep them at hip height, ready to grab. You don’t want to psychologically associate weight lifting with any form of downward movement, including picking up the weights.
This whole thing is about being on an UPWARDS trajectory - more inches of arm muscle circumference, more sets and reps within the twice-per-week (MAX) sessions, and more years to your life.
1. A Defined Jawline
I’m sure there’s some science to what happens to your skin after you lift weights, but its like everything tightens up, hugging the muscles and bone beneath closer, resulting in a more defined jawline (excess chin/face fat is unhealthy). It’s the most immediately noticeable result, hence starting the list with it.
2. You Number Two Better
This had to be number two on the list, for obvious reasons. Quite simply, lifting helps move things along-and-out of your system. Once again, there’s some science here relating to lifting’s pressurising effect on the joints and circulation system.
3. Obviously, Your Arms Look Better
This one is self evident. Fuller, more powerful and more durable arm muscles are great for health overall (More physically capable so you can experience more things in life, a more positive self-image, etc.)
4. You’re Preparing For Later Life
Lifting weights becomes more and more important as we age, as our bodies increasingly adapt a ‘use it or lose it’ mechanism. So when you lift, amidst the veritable plethora of wonderful and positive health and lifestyle effects, you can smile knowing that future You is thanking you with every rep. It's also much easier on the joints (we don't get any more cartilage than what we're born with, and cardio chips away at it much more than lifting).
5. Improves Mental Stamina (‘Just 3 More’)
Arnold wasn’t kidding about the Lifter’s High - the feeling you get when you’re right at the point where you feel you’re going to pause lifting and rest, and right then and there you challenge yourself to do just a few more - for me, this is the ‘Just 3 More’ rule. It’s like a UNO Wild Card - I just throw it at myself randomly (keeps me on my toes).
6. Mental Release (Especially Latter Sets/Reps)
Humans think too much, but especially if you’re like me and you think waaaaay too much, lifting weights brings an extremely psychologically healthy mental release. Our brains are constantly packed with electrochemical reactions, thoughts and feelings whizzing every which way. When your body switches to a mono-focused, primal, ‘I must stop this boulder from falling on me’ mode, everything else melts away. A great way of connecting with the innermost unconscious self that lives deep below all the surface-sloshing of the mind’s conscious ocean.
7. Boosts Self-Esteem Overall
Even when resting between sets, you catch sight of your arms, and you feel more powerful, more present, more primal. Bringing that ancient energy to life’s interactions and problems is a guaranteed way of negotiating both with more confidence and calm.
8. Less Sweat, Less Time, And More Effective Than Cardio
This one is a huge appeal factor for me when it comes to lifting weights. There’s Less Sweat (and what little there is can be deodorized away), Less Noise (no Treadmill sound), More Noticeable Positive Body Changes (listed everywhere in this article - tighter waist, bigger arms and legs). The list goes on.
It’s simply a better use of your time, with better results - so why don’t people lift more than they walk or run? See my caveat at the top of this article. Unfortunately, it's the unappealing, elitist and confronting ‘lifting culture‘ that's out there, gate-keeping what is and isn't "hashtag Gains". We’re gonna strip that Ego-driven bullshit away from it. The act of lifting weights itself is pure, and free of any connection to that crap. There’s also a perception that ‘it’s harder’.
Not really, ESPECIALLY IF YOU KEEP WEIGHTS STORED AT HIP HEIGHT, and in an easy to reach place. I cannot emphasise this enough. You must disassociate lifting weights from anything related to the idea or action of taking up any kind of burden, which the act of lifting a weight from the floor does.
Instead, the inner child who is up for a challenge comes out when you simply reach for a weight in your room and ask yourself ‘okay, how long can I keep this thing above my head while moving it up and down over and over while I watch tv?’ Do this, and you’ll feel a smile (or inner smile) begin to spread at the start of - and all throughout - every session you have.
Lastly is the myth that lifting is ‘pointless', because ‘we don’t need to lift anything like that in regular life‘.
Just to mic-drop this (also go to Number 4 for re-emphasis), it’s actually the complete opposite — it’s the only exercise worth doing for a truly well-lived, long and happy life (wanna be a sad mound of an old person, or a super hot old person? Yeah, I thought so. Lift off and away, my friend!)
9. Helps You Sleep Better
Self-explanatory. Again, there’s some science stuff happening here, but logic follows that if you tire your body out, you‘ll sleep deeper and better, because the body has more to recover from.
10. Helps You Eat Better (And Lets You Eat Fun Stuff In Moderation Too)
I’ve noticed that after lifting, I don’t crave bad food as much. Number 7 (Self-Esteem Boost) is a big part of this, since it neutralises the impulse to feel-better-through-food. But also, I also feel this sort of ’loyalty to the lift‘, for lack of a better expression. You don’t want to undo the work you’ve done, sure, but more than that, you experience an in increased sense of duty towards (to use an overused but kinda accurate expression) honouring the body more, since you’ve devoted time towards sculpting it into it’s truer, healthier form.
Also, majorly thanks to Number 2 on the list, Fun Stuff (Ice Cream and the like) is more accessible to the regular lifter. As covered above, lifting is great for digestion, turning your stomach into a constantly-lit furnace for breaking down food efficiently, fortifying against bloat or a stagnant gut.
Also, psst...over here...don’t spread this one around, but the occasional bloated tummy looks way better on someone with a body that’s jacked in every other way (The arms, legs and jawline pick up the making-you-attreactive-slack while you nurture and process your food baby).
11. It Helps You Breathe Better
Inhale when lowering, exhale when lifting. That’s how the body naturally creates the energy to execute its various movements. Practicing this with lifting helps you regulate your breathing, and is a great ritual for reorienting ourselves in performing this basic human function more consciously and in healthier alignment with how the mechanics of the body actually works.
12. You Can Do It While Doing Other Stuff (Less Shaky Than Running)
Watching a film, listening to a podcast - unless you are on a steady treadmill, nothing beats lifting weights for how stable the experience is compared to the very jumpy movements of cardio. It lets you be more present with what you are watching while lifting.
13. It Improves Your Posture
You can't get away with lifting with bad form as much as you can with cardio, which has a much wider margin of tolerance for being executed poorly. With lifting, the very premise of the movement has posture at the forefront - if you lift with poor form (core inactive, stiff joints), it can lead to injury and poor posture. Lifting helps you straighten your back, which will serve you very well in latter life, actively fighting against Dowager's hump (aka iHunch).
14. It Give You Abs (With Consistency & Nutrition)
The core of all lifting movements is, well, your core. This all-too-often neglected area is the literal nexus of all our bodily functions and movements, and deserves a great deal more respect than we give it. Lifting requires you to keep your core engaged throughout every session, set and rep, and coupled with consistency and good nutrition, will inevitably lead to visible abdominal muscles, and the maintaining of a really healthy life-long habit which, again, will serve you immeasurably in later life.
15. Naughty Reason A) You Can Do It Naked
You heard me. Treadmill naked is very uncomfortable, with all that momentum (the chafing!). Lifting can be done as nature intended, no problem at all. Which leads me to...
16. Naughty Reason B) Significantly Improves Sex & Sex Drive
For the masculine, lifting awakens the primal, powerful cave dweller who can lift up his quarry and his partner alike over one shoulder, and with their well-honed and regularly maintained stamina and strength a) physically serve, protect and provide and b) bring and achieve greater heights of sexual pleasure. For the feminine, a beautiful interplay of vulnerability and strength can be accessed with a more toned physique - lifting regularly reveals our fittest selves, which is our deepest, truest and most trusting state of being, and that is a gift that the feminine can gift herself (and her partner) with to the utmost. Conversely, the toned and strong feminine also evokes the women of Sparta, who trained their bodies intensely, able to hold their own in any situation, wether combat, during sex, or on the hunt. Overall, this reason goes hand in hand with Reason 7 (Self Esteem) - after lifting, you just FEEL ready to both give and receive, in the best way.