Home Friday 5 Friday 5: 5 Reasons To Lift Heavy Things And Build Muscle

Friday 5: 5 Reasons To Lift Heavy Things And Build Muscle

by Erika Nicole Kendall

So, listen.

I lift weights. I’m a lifter. I looooooove to pick things up and put them down. I feel like a super hero when I dead lift. I feel like I could fly when I squat with some 30s on each side. I wasn’t always this way – I originally felt like resistance training was a chore, and a boring one at that – but I eventually realized the necessities of muscle development and strength training, and began to appreciate it in unique ways.

That being said… today’s Friday 5? Why you need to have your tushy in the gym with some free weights:

1) Function. Having muscle is a quality of life issue. It just… it is. And you don’t know how much you’re missing out on if you don’t have muscle. Simple things like being able to climb stairs without experiencing fatigue are affected by how much muscle you have in your legs and arms. Things like walking for extensive distances, the ability to have and maintain proper posture while sitting, and even how you get up out of bed are different for people with adequate muscle for their bodies. I’ve written countless times about how I couldn’t even lift myself up out of a car without grabbing the hood of the car and the top of the car door because I didn’t have enough muscle to just turn to the side and stand up upon exiting my car. Muscle development affects our lives in so many ways, and we don’t even realize it until we’ve finally developed it.

2) Aging gracefully… literally. A lot of times, when our elders experience injury, it’s an injury that could’ve been avoided had they maintained adequate muscle. Things like hip problems, knee problems, foot problems… lots of falls, all can be helped by regular and consistent muscle development. It often makes you quicker, stronger, faster and more efficient… thereby increasing the likelihood of you being able to save yourself. Falling gracefully is an art…. made better both by regular activity and the muscle development that comes with it. Also: when the zombies come – because they are, in fact, coming – you want to be as nimble as possible at that age. I’m just sayin’ – if someone had to choose between my old behind and some cute young thing to help save… let’s just say I’d at least want to be able to punch them if they choose wrong.

3) The metabolism boost you get from muscle development means you can eat more. Every pound of muscle you carry burns almost three times as many calories per hour as every pound of fat your carry, and because it takes so much energy to develop and maintain muscle? It means… ta da! You can eat more! No, this doesn’t mean you can start packing away the chips, but it does mean that the portion sizes on those delicious, well-balanced meals that you are eating at home can get a little larger. This is always good. Always.

Me… looking like Busta Rhymes with those ponytails… in mid-lift. #bootywork

4) Curves right where you want ’em. Want nice, sizeable thighs? Want a nice upper curve in the tushy area? Want to whittle your middle? Want to give your chest a little lift? Curves built with muscle can do all of that. I lost so much of my breasts that the only way I could have even a little cleavage was to lift weights. The chest press actually gave me even a little bit of a perk right when I needed it most! The right kind of muscle development is often all you need to get to where you want to go physically… and by “right kind,” I mean “any kind.”

5) The confidence boost is phenomenal. There’s nothing like being confident about yourself because you know that you’ve done something you couldn’t do the day before. For me, lifting regularly has made me more comfortable with walking down the street… day OR night. It’s made me quicker. It’s made me more agile. I’m not only stronger, but I am used to moving these muscles and moving them quickly (insert blurb about the benefits of muscle memory, yadda yadda). I am capable of doing amazing things when I challenge myself, and why would I deny myself the right to be proud of that? If people can be proud of weird stuff like shoe collections (like me) and sports bra collections (also, sadly, me) then there shouldn’t be a damn thing wrong with finally deadlifting that 130lbs. Not a single thing.

Oh, and did I mention all the extra food you can eat? Yes. Oh. Okay, good. Because that’s also important. If you’re used to packing away much more food than you are now, muscle development will help you maintain your current weight even if you manage to slip into your old habits. (There’s an important caveat to this, but I’ll update this later with the info.)

What’d I leave out? Are you lifting? Why? If not, are you crazy? Do we need to commit you?

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Marie June 29, 2012 - 12:52 PM

I started to lift weight I am so tired… Of being tired when I take the stairs. Or by just carrying my purse! That’s ridiculous seriously!
Anyway I am wondering how do you know that you are working them effectively? Sometimes I do it until it burns and that my muscle fails but I do not necessarily get sore muscles 2 days after. Does it mean I do it wrong?

Erika Nicole Kendall June 29, 2012 - 1:11 PM

The burrrrrn, baby! You CAN work them out to the point where you’re getting delayed muscle soreness, but even still you should be stretching after you put in that work so that you DON’T get it. I know it’s like a badge of honor, but it’s a painful and often unnecessary badge, lol.

Bootsie June 29, 2012 - 2:05 PM

Hi Erika! Love your blog. One thing you left out with regard to aging is bone density. Weight-bearing exercise can build bone density, and can help prevent breaks down the road.

One thing I love about lifting is that it gives me stability, especially in my knees and hips. When, after a shoulder injury, I had to stop for a while and substitute yoga and running as my exercise, I started having knee and hip problems because my legs and glutes lost strength and weren’t able to keep my too-loose ligaments from sending my joints out of line. I’ve gotten the injury addressed and started lifting again, and now my joints are back in business.

tyj247 June 29, 2012 - 5:33 PM

Speaking of lifting, I just got back from my personal trainer where we did a TON of lifting. It legit took me about 5 minutes to lift my shirt over my head to shower afterward. I never thought I would be the lifting type but boy do I love it now. I love the way my body looks when I develop muscles, in addition to the whole eating more part. Plus, I love being one of the only women grabbing the free weights or cranking up my weight on the weight machine. I feel so powerful. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m trying to get my Serena (Williams) on! She and Michelle Obama are my fitness idols (besides you of course). Lifting: learn to love it ladies!

Erica June 30, 2012 - 1:12 PM

I am in my 40s and I love weights for all the points you mentioned. Its also an ego boost to be the one of the few females in the weight room at the gym and doing dead lifts with my personal trainer. I’m only 5’2, but I feel like a superhero when I complete my weight training. Weight training and working out in general has unexpected gifts. I had surgery a month ago (partial hysterectomy) and my doctor was pleasently surprised at the speed of my recovery and how well my body is responding. I honestly believe that years of clean eating and moderate exercise (cardio and weights) have greatly improved my quality of life and is contributing to my recovery. I don’t want to be one of those old chicks that fall and can’t get up!

E June 30, 2012 - 3:39 PM

Hey cool hair? Still haven’t tried weights I am soon promise

Suzette July 1, 2012 - 6:33 AM

I have been on this health journey since April 12th – and 17lbs lighter/and several inches – I truly believe the new “combo meal” that I started to intake has help: cardio/weights/clean eating. Thank you so much for your blog encouragement!

V July 1, 2012 - 7:26 AM

On Monday I start my gym membership. Most of the classes use a form of weights. I am hoping to feel the burn and wake up and do this again. My goal is to be able to lift my body weight. I would like to master push ups one day. My dream is also to achieve a flat belly by next year. I am wondering how often should I go to the gym?

Tracey July 1, 2012 - 11:46 AM

I”m not even joking when I say part of my biggest reason for getting healthy is the inevitable zombie apocalypse. Seriously, I am even thinking of back-up scenarios for if I get a physical disability (and plan to look into ways to get the most efficient use of motorized wheel chair/solar power it, etc.). Yep, when I’m on the elliptical and start to feel tired, I just remind myself that a horde of zombies is not going to stop when I’m tired.
Same thing for lifting, I need to be able to lift myself over walls with my equipment, move down stairwells using just the rails, move fallen in doors, etc. and still have the energy to shoot straight and wield a baseball bat modified with iron spikes and a machete.

Naija July 6, 2012 - 10:10 AM

Tracey: You and I are >HERE< People think I'm kidding when I say I like weight because of the apocalypse… Too bad I'm not. Strong muscles = strong body = higher likelihood of not getting my brains eaten.

Erika: Awesome post! I was always the one who hated weights but the truth was I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it. Now weight training is without a doubt my most favorite part of working out. I count it all joy when I cross the street and my legs give out because of those weighted squats, or I can't lift my arms because of a chest press.

Added benefit: Stronger legs make it easier for me to drop it low! Not just on men (ha!) but to be eye level with my 5 year old niece in a snap! Seriously, being able to squat down effortlessly is the best thing about being stronger. I can't believe I was keeping myself from it by carrying around an extra 125 lbs..

TeaJae July 2, 2012 - 11:23 AM

I’ve been way too TERRIFIED to lift weights. Always thought I’d bulk up and look like I could play on the front line of any NFL teams YIKES. I’m already a big curvy girl, I don’t want to put muscle over the fat and get bigger. All the trainers at the gym swear to me that I would beef up at first, firm right up and sleek my body out with weights IDK. I will say articles like this are slowly but surely remaking my mind over about weights and taking the fear out of them.

Miss K. July 20, 2012 - 1:37 PM

TeaJae, your main concern regarding lifting is one of the biggest misconceptions out there.

You will NOT put “muscle over fat” and get bigger. When you add muscle to your physique, you will raise your metabolism. Raising your metabolism will help you burn fat -faster-, effectively making you SMALLER. The entire process of putting on muscle and burning fat is a concept that many people do not understand and people believe that putting on muscle will make you ‘larger’. This is not so. I will use myself as an example. I am short, with a large frame. I have always been stocky, top heavy with an apple shape. Once I began serious weight training and lifting heavy, I packed on a lot of muscle, but I got so much smaller. During this time I made MINOR adjustments to my diet (watched my carbs a little bit & tried to increase my water intake) and increased my protein intake (I drank a protein shake after my workout and before bed), but I did not ‘diet’. I also rarely did any cardio, so only weights. I lost roughly 20lbs from strength training alone. I am much curvier, stronger and confident and I have weights to thank!

Please, please, please I beg of you. Do NOT be afraid to lift weights and don’t be afraid to lift heavy! As women, our bodies are capable of great strength and when allow that strength to shine, it only enhances our feminine beauty! Your body will never look better! Please give weight lifting a try! 🙂

Erika Nicole Kendall July 20, 2012 - 5:29 PM

I’m going to co-sign this, and add to it that I believe the effect most people are referring to is what they see in men who lift several hours a day and still look “soft.” If you’re not training that hard that often, then rest assured your process will happen slow enough for this conversion to take place safely.

Tara Melissa July 3, 2012 - 2:13 PM

Great article! One question: I moved to a place far away from a gym (though I’m getting a bike so that may not be a problem soon!) and I don’t have weights at home – would you consider exercises where you’re using your body as a weight, like push-ups, or different yoga poses, to be a workable substitute?

Erika Nicole Kendall July 4, 2012 - 11:52 AM
Theresa July 20, 2012 - 10:19 AM

Love your post and yes I love lifting and lifting heavy! I started my journey 130 lbs heavier not able to do much at all. Every day I am amazed by how much more I am able to do. Working out hard gives me a rush and brings me soooo much joy. I still have about 85 lbs I want to lose but yes working out hard and lifting weights has given me a greater confidence and a love for my body. I still have a ways to go on my journey but the muscle I have especially in my thighs and glutes is RIDICULOUS and I love it!

fit40four August 3, 2012 - 4:12 PM

I recently started working out at a Crossfit gym. The workouts involve heavy lifting, and a bunch of stuff I would never do on my own. I just completed my 2nd week and I was starting to think that I didn’t like it. What I realized is that really challenging myself to do hard things took me out of my ‘Cardio Comfort Zone’. I accepted that there is a learning curve with new things and now I am anticipating the changes I will see. I’ve had 2 compliments this week about looking leaner, it really motivated me to keep up the strength training.

christine February 1, 2013 - 10:19 AM

I totally feel ya about the weights..there’s something..I dunno orgasmic about adding another 10 pounds, being scared..but whoosh up it goes (insert happy dance)

KjenNu March 23, 2013 - 10:03 AM

Reason #5 is why I lift weights three times a week. Lifting seems to energize me and I leave the gym proud of my workouts. I don’t know why it took me so long. I was never afraid of bulking up (the science was too firm in proving that theory wrong) but I think some part of me considered lifting weights as something outside of my norm, don’t kill me, but I did think of it as being “non-feminine” and I still get a little set of nervous tingles when I go into the free weights section, which very, very rarely has other women using it, but I go anyway, because I know the fear is nothing compared to the satisfaction I get from lifting.

Long Cao July 12, 2013 - 9:20 AM

Powerlifter here… I squat 3 times a week and never get sore. You will get very sore after your first day or week in the gym, but trust me, once those weights increase and you do it enough you NEVER get sore. I have gained more strength in the time I have not been sore than in the time I have. Now that’s not to say I haven’t had those dizzy spells after a squat where I see spots! LOL thats a good feeling it means you work hard!

Kami November 16, 2013 - 10:43 PM

This is another goal of mine to gain muscle and decrease body fat. Even though I do not use weights, my physical therapist told me to start using resistance bands she gave me a 20 to fifty pounds set. My body fat started to decrease I lost about four percent for the year but now starting to use my body weight as well. My goal is to learn proper form and make this a permanent in my lifestyle. Just started doing this in July off and on but it will permanent now.

Robyn January 3, 2014 - 1:08 PM

I’ve just started lifting and I really enjoy it. I was wondering though, what are your views on kettlebells?

Erika Nicole Kendall January 4, 2014 - 4:27 PM

LOVE. THEM. Kettlebells give me LIFE!

marquita February 7, 2014 - 10:24 AM

Hi I have been trying different things on weight loss to be honest I am getting discouraged and depressed. I am a 30yr old single black female and I don’t wanna die before I see my grandkids. I am currently at 324 and I feel like I loose and I gain it back it is really discouraging. Can u start me out on something good or something help please

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