Weightlifting: it’s not about the weight

Weightlifting: it’s not about the weight

Wait….what? This makes no sense. How can weightlifting not be about the weight? Let me explain….

Hi there. How has your week been? How did you find my blog last week about change? Is there anything you took from that? Is there anything you would like to know more about? Please ask if you have any other questions.

This week we are looking at weight lifting. I know that may seem like a radical departure from what was discussed last week where we looked at change, but for those of you who are familiar with my blogs and the overarching theme, I am looking at the total, at the mind and the body, and the total wellness of the person, and knowing that this journey of wellness comes from looking at supporting the needs of physical and the psychological. Where last week I looked at change and the opportunities it may give in terms of career and opening a person to new experiences, this week I am going to look at weightlifting, as weightlifting is part of the physical, helps toward weight loss and enhances mental well-being.

For myself as well, in looking at my monthly reviews, I have seen how I have put on a bit of fat around the midsection, so it has also brought me back around to evaluating my fitness path and what I am doing to improve upon that.

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But back to the meaty bit. Weightlifting. 

Why weightlifting is not about lifting the biggest weights. 

I learnt this the hard way. In my late teens I became enamoured by the world of weight lifting. I was mesmerized by the aesthetics and rags to riches story of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I bought the Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, a book which Arnold penned and published in 1985. I began to lift weights and with a combination of more calories and spending way more than I had to (suckered in at the time by supplement companies) I quickly put on muscle. 

At this time I was also doing something which I call ‘ego lifting’ in which I tried to match my friends or lift more than them, with form and technique thrown to the wind. I incurred some injuries, particularly to my lower back, something which had been painful in school from rugby, but something that got way worse with poor form and technique with weight lifting. I remember one day in particular when I deadlifted weight with bad technique and when I got home I lay on the floor in agony holding my back. It was then that I realised that its not about the biggest weights. 

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What is more important than how much you lift is how you lift it.

I have learnt this more and more, and especially in my 40s, I have learnt to accept and adapt to the limitations of my body, and in doing so have also learnt to adapt to how much I lift and have focussed more on good form and good technique over how much I lift. 

According to Casazza (2014), proper form is important for strength training for the following reasons:

  • It prevents injury
  • It targets muscles 
  • It maintains proper breathing

Good form, with neutral spine, head up, shoulders back, opens up the chest and the airways, focuses specifically on the muscles which you are working and when done slow and with concentration, good form and good technique also works to preventing injuries. 

Mayo Clinic (2019) also supports some of the views put forward by Casazza and further emphasizes the importance of lifting an appropriate amount of weight which you can lift using full range of motion and with maintaining good form, taking your time and not rushing, and remembering to warm up and cool down, with stretching incorporated at the end of your workouts.

I stretch at the end of my workouts. I listen to some relaxing music and focus on my breathing and relaxing after I work out, and I feel that I have better range of motion and less stiffness after my workouts. 

But I also feel less pain and discomfort in my body overall as I am lifting within my capabilities and am doing so in a safe and controlled way. 

Better results can be gained by doing it properly and slowly. The guy in the gym throwing weights down is probably the same guy struggling to get in and out of his car because he injured his back again. I would know. I used to be that guy. 

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In summary, its not about how much you lift: its about how you lift it. Keeping good form and technique helps prevent injury, targets specific muscles, and helps to maintain good posture, neutral spine and good breathing and flow of oxygen. You can get results over time with good diet and good form. Don’t worry what the guy is lifting next to you. Focus on you.                                                               

I hope you have found the blog of some help. Remember: it’s a journey. It will take time. Have patience in the process. You will get there. Until then, stay happy, stay healthy, and have a lovely weekend wherever you are on the planet.

And remember: love yourself. 

References:

Casazza G. (2014). Importance of Proper Form When Strength Training. Available: https://www.nfpt.com/blog/importance-proper-form-strength-training. Last accessed 18th September 2019.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). Weight training: Do’s and don’ts of proper technique. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/weight-training/art-20045842. Last accessed 18th September 2019.

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A bit about the author:

I am a guy who is (nearly) 40, who is sharing a journey of weight management and wellbeing.I am also a mental health professional with a wealth of years of experience in supporting individuals who have challenging mental illnesses and personality disorders.

Prior to my current professional role, I spent several years supporting members of the community as a fitness professional, assisting individuals with weight loss and health improvement programmes.

I completed a PGDip in Mental Health Nursing in 2013, and an MSc in Advanced Practice in 2016 in which I looked at improving nurses’ level of engagement with patients with challenging personality disorders.

In 2018 I successfully undertook a Clinical reasoning in Physical Assessments course with the view to start studying toward becoming an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in late 2019.

In 2015 I also undertook a Mentorship for practice (BSc Hons) course and have been supporting future nurses with their training and development. I have also recently supported a Healthcare Assistant Staff toward training in and successfully passing and achieving a Foundation Degree in Mental Health Nursing.

In my current role I am a person looking to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the individual. As part of my role within the health services in supporting individuals with mental health care needs, I am also currently looking to develop myself as a Wellness Coach, to support the individual with weekly wellness blogs, with the view to support individuals on a 1:1 basis as well as holding motivational lectures and seminars.

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