Alright ladies, it’s time to get serious.
I’m not one to sugarcoat things, but suffice it to say you’re not going to get the body of your dreams by following the work of Tracy Anderson or Jillian Michaels.
I’m sure you’re well aware of the hormonal differences which prevent you from ever resembling J.J. Watt or Hulk Hogan in their prime. But there’s still a small voice in the back of your head which holds you back from truly breaking out of your shell and picking up a heavy barbell.
What do you have to lose? Turns out there’s actually 9 very important traits to gain.
1. Butts, Bis, and Thighs
Alright, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to look good naked?
Don’t lie, we all saw that #skysoutthighsout tag you put on your Instagram post yesterday. You may not willingly admit you’re trying to improve your birthday suit, but at the end of the day, it’s definitely a major motivating factor.
Now I’m certainly not saying you should focus entirely on the mirror. On the contrary, I personally believe that satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment are best achieved when one chooses to focus on performance rather than the endless pursuit of aesthetic perfection.
However, you’ll find that by prioritizing strength related goals you’ll not only receive fulfillment from overcoming physical obstacles, but also aesthetic benefits due to progressive overload.
It’s all about perspective and moderation – combine both and find your best results yet.
2. Improved Sleep
We’ve known for a while that sleep and anxiety have a long standing correlation.1 So, while other people are in dreamland, you might be stuck worrying about the latest Game of Thrones episode or if that cute guy from work likes you.
Now this kind of goes back to the chicken or the egg phenomenon – does poor sleep lead to anxiety or does anxiety lead to poor sleep? Well, the answer might be both.
In the end, worrying about getting enough sleep might be preventing you from actually getting that much needed shut eye to help you feel rested.
The easiest fix? Go pump some iron. It has been shown to improve subjective sleep quality and reduce anxiety.2,3
Sure, weight lifting offers a host of physiological benefits but more than that, the mental fortitude which accompanies new PRs is unlike anything else.
If you’ve been lifting weights for a number of years then I’m sure my point will resonate easily with you. When you’re able to step outside your comfort zone and crush weights you never dreamed you’d be able to lift, you’ll quickly notice a change in your mental and physical demeanor.
It’s not just the fact that you’ll have more confidence with your peers and in your personal life, you’ll begin to approach problems as challenges rather than barriers. Your hardships aren’t able to hold you down because you have the self-efficacy to persevere in spite of any difficulty.
Learn it in the weight room, apply it throughout the rest of your life.
4. Mental Acuity
If you’re the type of person who enjoys lifting in the morning then you’ve experienced this benefit firsthand. Not only is the tone of your day already set but you seem to possess a sort of laser-like focus which is unmatched from just coffee alone.
Now, this could be due to the fact that you took 3 scoops of preworkout at 5AM when you were trying to find your favorite pair of leggings and not trip over the dog, but it’s likely also due to improvements from your recent training session.
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Duh Mike, that’s obvious.”
Lifting weights gets you strong, novel concept, right? Well that depends on a number of factors actually.
Getting strong requires more than just lifting weights, it requires the ability to effectively manage training stress, program for specific training variables, and adapt to each individual training stimulus.
Related: 4 Week Beginner Workout for Women
If you want the strength benefits of lifting then that requires a moderate level of intensity coupled with progressive overload and a well thought out training cycle. You can’t just expect to walk in the gym, lift a few dumbbells haphazardly, and look like a fitness model tomorrow morning.
Don’t be afraid to lift heavy if you want to reap some serious benefits.
6. Burn Fat by Sleeping
I don’t know about you, but sleeping is without a doubt one of my favorite pastimes along with deadlifting and watching the latest gym fail montage on YouTube. But I bet you didn’t know that it was possible to burn fat while you sleep.
It’s ok, you can reread that last sentence again, I’ll wait.
No, it’s not a typo; when you strength train you obviously increase the amount of lean mass you carry which is also the most metabolically active tissue within your body. More muscle requires more calories to maintain and also helps to shift hormonal control within your endocrine system.
I just gave you an excuse to sleep more. What more do you want?
7. Reduce Pain and Improve Joint Centration
Many females (and some males as well) are actually hypermobile, meaning they possess the ability to take their joints through end ranges of motion which most cannot attain. To put things succinctly, they resemble Gumby during a yoga class.
We all know that person who can put their leg over their head or jump rope using just their arms. Turns out that may not be the best for their joints and ligaments in the long run.
When you lack stability within a joint you can often run into issues with micromovements within the joint capsule or other corresponding structures. Like most things in life, strength training is the solution.
By improving tensile strength of the ligaments, tendons, and corresponding musculature, you will undoubtedly improve joint centration. Sometimes instability can be the root of pain. Get strong and you won’t have to worry.
8. Improved Pregnancies
You might be reading this article with zero intentions of ever getting pregnant and that’s perfectly fine; but, it’d be negligent on my part to not even mention this point.
When you strength train (especially when you include movements such as squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, etc.) you are strengthening the intrinsic stabilizing musculature within the abdominal cavity. That same musculature is responsible for assisting in the birth of your child.
Now, don’t miss the forest through the trees, I’m certainly not condoning kipping pullups or a new deadlift max during your third trimester. Just the opposite actually, most women can exercise throughout their pregnancy without issues, but exercise selection, volume, intensity, and frequency will all have to be manipulated for the safety of both the mother and the baby.
PRs while preggers? It’s possible, even beneficial.
As strength coach and biomechanist Bret Contreras once said,
“If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous.”
There’s no doubt, a strong body gives you the ability to handle more stress in your personal life without as many deleterious side effects. However, it seems our culture has slipped into a mindset of mediocrity and self-doubt.
Weakness is an underlying epidemic which no one wants to address. Instead, many just assume that deadlifting double your bodyweight is an insurmountable task for any mortal man or woman.
Defy average, reject the norm, and hold yourself to a higher standard of excellence. You deserve to be strong, but you must be willing to work through various trials and overcome a host of obstacles in order to get there.
Are you ready?