Everybody is always looking for a hack. While I am a firm believer that these don’t really exist … weightlifting is about as close as you can get to a "hack" when it comes to your health and fitness goals.
After all, lifting heavy weights can do so much more for you than just building muscle.
With that being said, you may be wondering, ”What are the benefits of lifting heavy weights?” The answer is ... there are quite a few!
Let's take a deeper dive into these benefits and talk about why I personally recommend it for nearly anyone.
What Are The Benefits of Lifting Heavy Weights?
There are a number of reasons that you should consider lifting heavy weights. These benefits range from improving your overall strength to allowing you to live a longer, healthier life ... and everything in between.
But, despite the obvious fact that lifting heavy can help you get stronger, what else can it do? Here are some of the biggest benefits of lifting heavy weights (1):
• Reducing body fat
• Improved insulin sensitivity
• Increasing/preserving muscle mass
• Reducing the risk of injury
• Improving longevity
I know this is a lot to throw at you all at once … so, let’s break it down case by case. I’m very much so a person who needs to understand the “why” behind things.
If you’re that kind of person too, here’s what you need to know…
Lifting Heavy Weights Can Reduce Body Fat
When you lift heavy, you break down a significant amount of muscle tissue. But, what does that have to do with losing body fat? Well, muscle breakdown allows your body a chance to build muscle back. This process can take place when you recover properly, and feed your body the proper nutrients and calories.
The reason this can help with reducing body fat is that the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you can burn at rest (2).
When you burn more calories at rest, you have a greater chance of putting yourself in a calorie deficit. This is how you lose weight and fat. As long as your nutrition is where it needs to be, lifting heavy weights can certainly help with reducing body fat!
Lifting Heavy Weights Can Help Improve Insulin Sensitivity
You use large muscles and muscle groups when you lift heavy. Just think about the muscles you use in a heavy squat! You use your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and even your core muscles.
By doing this, your body can allow glucose to enter your muscle cells to fuel your muscles without the help of insulin.
What this means is that lifting heavy can help your body use insulin more effectively (3).
Lifting Heavy Weights Can Help With Increasing/Preserving Muscle Mass
As I said earlier, when you lift heavy weights, you break down muscle tissue. By fueling your body properly, you can build that muscle back and even build more muscle (2).
In my experience, as long as your body is getting enough protein, you can gain muscle mass in two different scenarios:
1. Being in a calorie surplus and working to gain muscle and weight.
2. Being in a calorie deficit and being new or untrained when you are working to lose weight.
So, when all the right conditions are met, lifting heavy weights can be great for building and maintaining muscle mass.
Lifting Heavy Weights Can Help Reduce Your Risk of Injury
When you lift heavy, you’re testing your tissue’s abilities. By “tissue”, I’m referring to your muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and more.
All of these tissues work together to help your body perform movements properly. By lifting heavy, you don’t just strengthen your muscle tissue, you also strengthen these other tissues as well. This can help reduce your risk of injury in training and everyday life (4).
This means you can keep your body healthier and more resilient as you continue to grow and get stronger.
Lifting Heavy Can Help Improve Longevity
For your overall health alone, weightlifting can have several benefits. Two of the biggest potential benefits are improved cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of diabetes.
In fact, consistent resistance training alone was associated with 21% reduced all-cause mortality (5). When paired with cardiovascular exercise, this number has been shown to be up to 40% (5)!
Advice For Lifting Heavy Weights
If you don’t lift heavy weights, or you’re looking to get more serious with your resistance training … I have a few tips for you before you leave.
With these things in mind, you’ll be sure to fast-track your progress and reap the benefits of lifting heavy weights.
Tip 1: Find Someone With Experience
Utilizing a personal trainer or someone who is an experienced lifter can help you a ton. They can make sure you’re using proper form, activating the correct muscles, and preventing injury.
Not only that, but they can also help guide you toward a program/routine that works best for you and your goals.
Looking back to when I first got started, had I known then what I know now ... there's no telling how much more quickly I would have seen results and progressed.
Heck, there are cases where people who use a personal trainer alone can see over 10% more improvement as opposed to self-training (6).
Tip 2: Focus On Proper Form
Using proper form is the best way to minimize injuries that could occur from lifting heavy weights (7). Form is what will let your body move in the ways that it naturally and safely should.
In my personal experience, using proper form is a great way to get the most out of your workouts too. When using proper form, people tend to progress more quickly!
Tip 3: Don’t Lift Too Heavy
Lifting too heavy is a common mistake. In fact, I’ve been just as guilty of this as the next person.
When we lift too heavy though, we tend to not use proper form. In a way, this goes hand in hand with Tip #2. If you can’t perform the exercise with good form, you probably need to lower the weight you’re using.
While I know it is cool to lift heavier and heavier, it is important to do this in a safe manner.
Tip #4: Listen To Your Body
When I say listen to your body, I mean to make sure that you are staying within your limits. If something hurts … don’t push yourself to do more.
If you do have some sort of nagging injury, muscle tightness, or anything along those lines … then you may consider lowering the weight or trying an alternative exercise.
When these things persist, it would be best to seek professional help and advice.
One Last Thing To Keep In Mind As You Start Lifting Heavy
There is a long list of benefits that come from lifting heavy. It can improve your life in so many ways.
As long as you utilize heavy lifting in the proper way, then there is no doubt that you can improve your quality of life in the present and in the future too!
If you ever find yourself struggling with where to get started when programming your workouts, then we have your back. Our mission is to help real people get real and long-term results.
One thing we offer that can help you a ton is the 1st Phorm App. It’s literally an all-in-one tool to help guide you in the right direction and reach your health and fitness goals.
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• 1-on-1 coaching with a certified advisor
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In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches who can help answer any questions that you may have! Give us a call at 1-800-409-9732 or shoot us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com anytime.
(1) Kraemer, William J et al. “Resistance training for health and performance.” Current sports medicine reports vol. 1,3 (2002): 165-71. doi:10.1249/00149619-200206000-00007
(2) Westcott, Wayne L. “Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health.” Current sports medicine reports vol. 11,4 (2012): 209-16. doi:10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8
(3) Klimcakova, E et al. “Dynamic strength training improves insulin sensitivity without altering plasma levels and gene expression of adipokines in subcutaneous adipose tissue in obese men.” The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism vol. 91,12 (2006): 5107-12. doi:10.1210/jc.2006-0382
(4). Fleck, S J, and J E Falkel. “Value of resistance training for the reduction of sports injuries.” Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) vol. 3,1 (1986): 61-8. doi:10.2165/00007256-198603010-00006
(5) Saeidifard, Farzane et al. “The association of resistance training with mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” European journal of preventive cardiology vol. 26,15 (2019): 1647-1665. doi:10.1177/2047487319850718
(6) McClaran, Steven R. “The effectiveness of personal training on changing attitudes towards physical activity.” Journal of sports science & medicine vol. 2,1 10-4. 1 Mar. 2003