Some timely lessons I’ve learnt over 20+ years of training
I greatly advocate strength training since I’ve been practising it for over 20 years.
It’s become the best way to build muscle, become stronger and decrease body fat simultaneously.
Building lean muscle from lifting weights also helps strengthen our bones — which will serve us well into old age.
As we become older, muscle mass and metabolism decline. However, that doesn’t affect people who weight train as well.
With continuous effort over time, those usual age-related ailments don’t seem to have a negative effect.
A big part of weight training is knowing what to do and how to do it well.
This is probably the biggest obstacle for most people starting (as it was for me). So I took the chance and invested in a couple of personal trainers to fast-track my results — and it worked.
But, in saying that, not all trainers are good — so you have to be mindful of this.
Trainers aren’t the only people you can learn from.
When you are in the trenches, trying and failing, many discoveries will come about.
You will soon discover many hidden gems and excel in your weight training goals.
At first, you might begin with aesthetics in mind and pivot towards another deeper intention.
Truth be known, weightlifting helps with a lot of things, and as you progress further and further, more and more benefits will reveal themselves to you.
In case you want a head start, I’ve uncovered a few.
One: Don’t only focus on weights in the gym
When we think of weights, the first thing that comes to mind is barbells and bars. But, as accurate as this is, it’s not the only thing that will help you with strength, conditioning and mobility.
A strong, lean and healthy body requires different stimuli, and you can still get a lot of leverage out of cables, tubes and weight bands.
We used many of these during the lockdown, and now they are a forgotten tool!
Bands, for instance, provide a superior level of resistance, plus it helps to warm up those muscles before a lift.
Your physiotherapist may have recommended using bands too. But, again, the evidence is clear; they help with injury, strengthen connective tissue and build flexibility.
So don’t dismiss these small valuable things that can provide you with a lot of help along your weight training journey.
Two: Multi-joint movements
I mention this a lot — and there is a good reason for it.
Multi-joint movements are the key components to building strength and size and burning body fat.
I see it as hitting all of your weight training goals at once. What a great way to become more efficient with your time!
Examples of these exercises are squats, lunges, bench pressing and sled pushes.
Lately, I’ve been adding more and more weight to a sledge, and believe me — this works multiple muscles in your body.
It’s also a challenging exercise and will provide leverage towards lifting more weight. It’s also a great fat burner!
Three: Weights is not only about aesthetics
I had to mention this because we all start to lift weight to build a better body — but we dismiss the effects it has on our mental health.
This isn’t something I thought would ever help me — but it sure does. I see weights as my ‘sanity relief’ and something I do to let off steam and direct any hurt or frustration.
The art of lifting heavy weights whilst in a low mood will instantly help you elevate that — mainly through the different hormones activated as you lift.
Of course, you attain this effect through exercise, but weight is special.
I believe it’s a builder of self-esteem and faith that you can and will lift the weight — and therefore, as you do, that filters into your daily life.
We all need to build confidence somehow, and it usually starts with the outside and works it’s way inwards.
Four: Be as active as possible and stay flexible
Sometimes you will have a lot of energy — whereas stressful times and sleep deprivation can lower your energetic capacity.
During my mum’s battle with cancer and the initial stages of her death, I was plagued by depression, grief and anxiety.
As a result, it was very hard to keep up with my weight training, even though I knew it would do me good.
I had to exercise some flexibility while leveraging my energy and doing my best.
Usually, that called for more walking, treadmill work and bypassing weights for a little while.
Of course, that didn’t last long, but I found it very helpful.
Any activity will ignite those feel-good hormones to help you through the hard times and keep you fit.
When travelling, carry some bands or see if your hotel has a gym.
Whatever it takes, keep active and don’t ever stop.
That’s how you build resilience and sustain your health and fitness goals throughout your lifetime.
Whilst weights are very important, so are many other different aspects of training which I have learnt throughout the years.
We’ve had to battle lockdowns, work and home stress, and those of the financial kind. But, without exercise, I surely would not have made it on top.
These days, we battle the world on the outside and internally.
The best way to overcome these never-ending obstacles is to stay active, use flexibility and get the most out of what you have.
Stay committed and open to learning and changing as you need to. That’s possibly the best tip I could ever give you.
Who has changed their approach since covid, and what are your tips for better health and muscle building?
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