This kind of training, powerlifting, weight lifting, strongman and bodybuilding are often used interchangeably. While all of these disciplines use resistance training to achieve the desired result, they’re actually very different from each other. So what actually is weights lifting?
Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift. Weightlifting, also known as Olympic lifting, is a sport with the same training to powerlifting, but weightlifters perform the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk for competition. Strongman is also a unique sport, where the lifts are more varied and tend to involve odd implements, like kegs, cars, logs, and stones. Bodybuilding is the act or process of improving your body composition through muscle growth and fat loss. It is also a competitive sport with many professionals worldwide, but there’s no athletic component to the actual competition.
The primary goal of bodybuilding training is to build as much muscle as possible while maintaining an aesthetically pleasing physique. On the other hand, strength training’s objective is, as the name implies, more about gaining power.
Strength training is less about building more muscle than it is about teaching your body to recruit existing muscle cells as efficiently as possible. The main desired adaptations from strength training happen at the neuromuscular level. Effective strength training allows athletes to gain strength without necessarily adding a significant amount of body weight.
So how much weight do you actually need to lift to get strong?
There’s no standard amount of weights lifting and reps that work for everyone. As per the norm, incorporating workouts that include higher weights and low sets and repetitions boosts your cell density making you more strong, moderate weights with multiple sets and repetitions increases your muscle size making you bigger, and light loads with lots of reps help you build stamina.
In order to pinpoint your ideal weight, here is a simple strategy that could help you:
- Learn proper form. Practice your form for a while using empty bars or light weights. When your applying proper form, your likelihood of experiencing an injury related to performing an exercise is minimized, if not eliminated. Bad form is one road to injury and no one wants that.
- Test your limit. Do a simple strength test. Do a rep or two with the bar or a 15lb dumbbell. If that feels way too easy, ramp it up and slap some 10s on then try again and keep repeating until it feels like a weight where you’ll be struggling by the end of the set.
- Stop at any point when you hit technical failure.
- Choose the weight that you performed before technical failure to be your working set for the following session.
- Go up in gradual increments. Don’t get stuck in one set range. Change up weights & reps all the time, not just to see what works but to improve yourself.
- Deload to 0.8x the weight when failure occurs if you hit technical failure before the desired reps and set for the following sessions. If something hurts, stop doing it. There’s a difference between regular, common, post-exercise muscle ache and pain from when you twist a joint in a way it isn’t supposed to. Learn that difference, and know that nothing kills gains like having to take months off from the gym because of a dumb injury you sustained when you did something wrong and/or lift too heavyweights.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you are an intermediate.
Here are some weight and gender sorted strength standards to help you kickstart your strength training journey.
Why should you lift weights?
There are a plethora of health benefits you can get from lifting weights. This includes:
- Improved flexibility
- Improves strength & muscle mass
- Lower risk of physical injury
- Increase bone mineral density
- Reduce insulin resistance
- Improve metabolic control
- Reduce adiposity
- Help reduce chronic lower back pain
- Reduce intra-abdominal fat
- Improve physical activity among older adults
- Reduce the risk of osteoporotic fractures
- Reduce resting blood pressure
- Improves metabolic health in Type 2 diabetes
- Improves strength, balance and motor movements of people with Parkinson’s
- Improves general cognition
- Reduces depressive symptoms
- reduction in fatigue symptoms
- improves self-esteem
- Reduces risky behaviors like drinking and smoking
- Reduces stress
- Better sleep
- Improves mood
- Reduces anxiety and hostility
- Improves memory
Training apps that could guide you and track your strength progress:
To end, I will leave you with a quote from Socrates in Xenophone’s book Memorabilia:
“Besides, it is a disgrace to grow old through sheer carelessness before seeing what manner of man you may become by developing your bodily strength and beauty to their highest limit. But you cannot see that if you are careless; for it will not come of its own accord.”
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