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Why We Should Lift Heavy Sh*t

Updated: Oct 4, 2023

Would you take a pill that promised better overall health, well-being, and functional independence, as well as weight loss, blood pressure management, and improved bone density and strength? What if this pill also helped prevent falls and memory loss? I'd sure take it. Unfortunately, there is no such pill. Yet, strength training offers all of these benefits and more.


Strength training is great for all adults, but it's especially important as we age. Many of us started exercising during the Jane Fonda aerobics era and think that incorporating three pound dumbbells into a routine constitutes strength training. But unless you are progressively challenging your muscles by regularly increasing the weight and/or repetitions, you're not reaping the benefits of strength training.


So, what are those benefits exactly? Here are my top 10 reasons to incorporate strength training into your life:

  1. Regular strength training slows age-related muscle loss (sarcopenia) and improves muscle function so you can keep doing all the things you love.

  2. Resistance training helps to strengthen bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

  3. Building lean muscle mass boosts metabolism, aiding in weight management and fat loss because muscle burns more calories than other tissues - even when we're resting and sleeping.

  4. Strong muscles support and stabilize joints, reducing the risk of falls and injuries and improving overall joint function and mobility.

  5. Strength training improves your ability to perform daily activities such as lifting groceries, getting up from a chair, or climbing stairs, promoting independence and a higher quality of life.

  6. If you are living with a chronic conditions such as arthritis, strength training can help alleviate pain and discomfort by strengthening the muscles around affected joints.

  7. Regular strength training can boost energy levels and reduce feelings of fatigue, leading to a more active and engaged lifestyle.

  8. Exercise, including strength training, has been linked to improved mood, reduced stress, and a lower risk of cognitive decline in older adults. Some studies suggest it can actually improve memory and mild cognitive impairment.

  9. Strength training is good for cardiovascular health. It lowers blood pressure, bad cholesterol and inflammation.

  10. Strength training is effective at treating the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. It reduces fasting glucose levels and improves overall glycemic control by increasing insulin sensitivity.

Will I get bulky?

Short answer: No. Not unless you try really, really, REALLY hard over a significant amount of time (at least a couple of years). Even then, some of us are just not genetically equipped to put on a lot of muscle mass. If you are concerned about getting bulky, just know that you will never wake up one day and look in the mirror to find that you got bulky overnight. It is a slow process and one that you can adapt to achieve the look you want.


How do I get started?

If you are new to strength training, start with lighter weights or bodyweight exercises and gradually progress to more challenging loads as your strength and fitness level improve. Start with two days per week of a total body program that targets all the major muscle groups. It is generally more effective to start with the larger muscles while you are still fresh and move on to the smaller muscles later in the workout. An example would be starting with a squat or deadlift that focuses on your glutes and legs, then moving to a chest press, row (for back muscles), shoulder press and finally bicep curl and tricep extension. The amount of weight you lift will depend on the number of reps you are doing per set. If you are doing sets of 5 reps, you can lift heavier weight than if you are doing sets of 10-12 reps. You should choose a weight that will allow you to perform all reps with good form while still leaving one or two reps 'in the tank'.


If two days per week feels easy, you can add a third day of full body strength training, but always leave one or two days in between workouts for recovery. Aim for 12 sets per body part per week.


It's essential to consult with your healthcare provider or a fitness professional before starting a strength training program, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns. A personalized and well-designed strength training routine can be tailored to an individual's needs, taking into account your fitness level, health status, and specific goals. If you're ready to give it a try, I can help you design a program that meets your needs and deliver it to you via my Trainerize app so you can follow along at your home or gym. Or, I can coach you live - online or in person. Any way you do it, strength training should definitely be a part of your life.


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