THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION IN THE WHOLE WORLD AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW IT.
THIS IS SO PARAMOUNT THAT CERTAINLY EVERYONE KNOWS IT ALREADY.
Nearly every time I sit down to write to you, I deliberate as to whether or not what I have to say will be useful to you.
The more critical the topic, the more crucial to your success, the more I question telling you about it.
I don’t want to be a broken record. But I also need you to know these things.
I am writing this post because I cannot live with myself, knowing that I haven’t yet ensured that you all know–beyond the shadow of a doubt–that you should be lifting heavy weights.
Thus, I apologize if this is redundant.
However, if you can’t spout off a million reasons why strength training is imperative, I implore you to read on.
First, let’s set the framework.
“Lifting heavy” simply means “lifting heavier than is comfortable for you.”
[True story: one time, at a powerlifting competition, my PR deadlift was another competitor’s 1st attempt bench press. If this doesn’t illustrate that heavy is relative, I don’t know what does.]
You simply will not get stronger if you always use the same weights for your workouts.
If, when you see snatches in a prescribed workout, you automatically grab the 8-kg. kettlebell, you will not make progress. And just snatching more reps or for more time or with less rest, etc., etc. won’t cut it if you want to one day reach for the 12-kg. bell.
At some point, you’ve got to snatch the 12-kg. bell. Just once. And then again. And then again.
(That’s three times, spaced with lots of rest.)
Once you’ve done that a few times, you’ll maybe try it twice in a row.
And this, my friends, is strength training.
It’s not very sexy, this one-rep snatch business. But it certainly IS sexy when the 12-kg. becomes your go-to bell for snatches. And then it continues to be sexy as you obliterate your body fat and create luscious, sinewy muscles.
Ok, so that’s “lifting heavy.” What’s heavy now for one rep will eventually become what’s heavy for mid-reps, which will eventually become what’s heavy for high reps.
Which leads me to my parenthetical title clause, “especially if you’re a female.”
It’s not that lifting heavy is more important for females; it’s just that men who lift seem to often, automatically, lift heavy.
[And, in fact, if I were to write a post with the parenthetical title clause “especially if you’re a male,” the headline would probably be “Why You Should Chase PRs Outside of One-Rep Maxes.” …Hmm…maybe I’ll write that one next week…]
Anyway, at the risk of drawing undue distinction between men and women when it comes to workouts and, in particular, strength training….
I just think that this–perhaps culturally? perhaps biologically? perhaps for whatever reason you find least offensive if you’re the easily-offended type?–tends to be a message that women need to hear more so than men. They often need more convincing because they’ve been inundated with conflicting messages and strategic marketing, 3-lb. pink dumbbells and Jane Fonda.
So let me be clear:
Lifting heavy is important for everyone. It’s just especially overlooked by the female population, in favor of mainstream”toning” workouts which taut light weights for mid-high reps, classic “cardio,” and generally seem to discourage exercise that lacks grace.
Now that we’ve gotten that straightened out…
Here’s a completely incomplete list of reasons why you should lift heavy:
- Lifting heavy creates stronger muscles. Stronger muscles become bigger muscles. Bigger muscles require more calories to sustain. Therefore, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate will be, and the more calories you can consume without storing any as fat. YAY!
- Muscle mass also weighs more, and with more weight actually comes a few advantages, including burning more calories during exercise, even traditional cardio (ya know, if that’s your thing).
- Gaining strength allows you to reach greater work volume during allll your workouts, thus making all of your workouts more efficient.
- Lifting heavy increases Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC). That is, although the caloric payout for a few heavy sets might not be huge in the moment, you’ll burn boatloads of calories later as your body eagerly attempts to repair itself from the effort. (To further illustrate: if you see on your cardio machine readout that you have burned 300 calories–which is likely inaccurate anyway, but let’s roll with it for now–it means that you have burned 300 calories. And then you are done burning calories. If you increase anaerobic intensity, you’ll continue to burn calories long after your workout, such that you’ll literally be incinerating fat while hanging out with your family 5 hours later.)
- Lifting heavy makes you more useful as a person. You can move furniture! You can pick up your kids without hurting your back! You can carry all of your grocery bags from your trunk in one single trip!
- Lifting heavy feels good. If you’ve lifted heavy before, you know this. If you have not, I cannot adequately describe it for you here. Just do it.
- Due to many of the principles above, lifting heavy makes you leaner. For a man, lifting heavy can certainly make you bulky if programmed for that result. For a women, lifting heavy will not likely make you bulky without additional efforts to look bulky. It’ll just make you look strong and toned.
- Lifting heavy is empowering, as it forges physical and mental grit. You feel less vulnerable when you’re strong.
I just hit 935 words, and I don’t want to lose you before you get to the 5-Minute Sweaty.
Set a timer for 5 sets of 40-second work intervals alternating with 20 seconds of rest. Ignore the last interval beep and work for the entire 60 seconds.
40s plyo lunges / 20s rest
40s plank mountain climbers / 20s rest
40s tuck jumps / 20s rest
40s push-ups / 20s rest
60s bear crawl
P.S. Want to lift heavy? Want to get strong? Pat’s got plenty of tools for you in his Inner Circle.