Is Weightlifting Bad For Your Health?

Weightlifting sometimes gets a negative reputation for being bad for your heart, joints and health in general, is there any truth to it?

Is Weightlifting Bad For Your Health?

There are a few common misconceptions about weightlifting floating around in the popular knowledge domain about the negative effects of lifting weights. So what is the truth and what is just myth?

Is weightlifting bad for your health?

Joints

Weight lifting can be bad for your joints, but only if you use too much weight and use bad technique. I have weight lifted for many years and over those years I have heard many stories of injuries, however all of those injuries could of been avoided if they didn’t sacrifice their technique for the weight they were lifting.

This is almost always the fault of the ego, the gym can be a competitive place where one guy is trying to lift more than the next. Are you just going to try and out lift the guy next to you or are you going to focus on yourself?

Using poor technique can have serious long term negative effects on your joints. However if you use good technique it can have the opposite effect. Weight training strengthens the muscles around your joints which helps to ease pressure and wear and tear, reducing the chance of suffering from joint pain and problems in the years to come.

Sometimes poor technique comes from simply not knowing how to perform an exercise correctly. Any weightlifting beginners should always study up on the correct exercise technique for any exercise, and/or get help from a personal instructor.

Heart & Blood Pressure

Doctors once believed that weight training increased blood pressure, however this is now proved to be false. While it is true that weight lifting does increase your blood pressure during a heavy lift, studies now say that people who lift weights on a regular basis will benefit from lower blood pressure in the long term.

So is weightlifting bad for your health?

Only if you’re lifting like an idiot! All recent research suggests that correct and responsible weightlifting is good for your heart and your joints.

Weight lifting is actually one of the safest forms of exercise there is, and injuries are very rare and none serious if the correct technique is used. Running is actually far more damaging to your joints, constant impacts from running will make future joint problems far more likely.

If you have certain health issues like high blood pressure or a heart condition you should contact your doctor before starting a weightlifting program. This is because weight lifting will cause a temporary increase in blood pressure during a lift which could be dangerous. If in doubt get yourself checked out.

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Why do people lift weights and go to the gym?

Why do people go to the gym, to lift weights and keep fit. What are their motivations and reasons why they keep it up and why do some people quit?

Why do people lift weights and go to the gym?

There are two main reasons why people start going the gym. They want to improve their health and/or looks/aesthetics. Both reasons are actually connected more than most people think, however improving aesthetics is probably the most common reason, whether it be increasing muscle mass and/or reducing body fat.

These two reasons especially aesthetics maybe the reason why many people start going the gym, however these reasons alone will not keep most people motivated for very long. It just isn’t a strong enough reason, there has to be something more, something deeper.

Negative Perceptions

Some people perceive us workout & fitness lovers in a sometimes negative light. Like perceiving someone as being vein and narcissistic, this can be true with some of the casual gym users, however this is mostly an ignorant judgment, especially for those of us that have a long term, lifelong passion for keeping fit and active. Simply stated they don’t understand us.

There is a personality trait called orderliness which is connected to the motivations of seeking perfection, symmetry and being obsessive compulsive. This trait is actually a big reason why some people remain dedicated to fitness all their lives.  

Plus going to the gym to look good isn’t really comparable to wearing make up, getting plastic surgery or wearing tight fitting cloths, because unlike those, going to the gym is actually healthy for your body and mind.

Why are some people dedicated to keeping fit?

Some people, including myself keep training and eat well most of the time. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, or what the weather is like, we keep hitting the weights, treadmill and maintain a sensible diet (mostly). Even on holidays or even during a mild sickness I will still workout. I usually train less in these circumstances but I still train, even if it’s just a couple of times a week.

Aesthetics
I do this for myself, fitness Quote

Aesthetics is still part of it however the focus is more inner directed, we do it for ourselves first, other people’s judgments about how we look is secondary. This is one of the main differences between the people that give it up and the people that make it apart of their lives. We are more concerned with our own opinions of ourselves rather than the opinions of others.

This inner directed focus is far more motivating and it’s a far deeper reason than just trying to look good for other people and trying to impress them.

Delayed Gratification

The majority of people focus on quick fixes, quick ways the feel good. Modern western society and companies are catering to this desire for instant gratification and instant results with things like, weight loss pills, anti depressants and various other drugs designed for quick results and quick ways to feel good.

Exercise makes us feel good, however the benefits come later, whether it’s an hour after your workout or months later after benefiting from the results, it’s all delayed gratification. So the people like me that keep going week after week have a stronger focus on delayed gratification rather than the majority of people that mostly seek instant gratification.

Health

This is also connected to the above delayed gratification and being mindful of how we will feel in the future. Maintaining our health is a great way to make our futures better.

Our bodies are the greatest possessions that we will ever own and it makes sense to look after it. This is a logical and rational way of thinking, it comes down to individual priorities and personality types.

Addiction

Addiction to training happens when you see the results and the improvements and you have a desire to keep on improving. When this happens the thought of quitting is difficult to except and it actually makes you feel bad, so the only way to avoid feeling bad is to hit the gym again.

Being Physically Capable

We tend to love things that we are good at. Someone may have a naturally gifted mind for mathematics and they may develop a passion for it. However some of us are gifted physically and when people start to tap into that gift they begin to love it, and they want to see how far that gift goes.

A passion develops for being physically capable and testing and challenging those capabilities. This reason also links to addiction.

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Myths About The Effects of Anabolic Steroids

What are the most common myths about the effects of taking anabolic steroids? just how much do they enhance athletic performance and muscle mass?

Myths About The Effects of Anabolic Steroids

There is so much supposedly common knowledge about steroids, however most of it is just massive misunderstandings about the effects of them. I wanted to address and list some of the most common myths in this article.

I have never taken steroids myself however I have known and trained with others that have, plus I have over 15 years of weight training experience and I know what can be achieved naturally.

How effective are they for the average guy or beginner at building muscle?

For the average weight lifter or beginner they will give around 2 – 3 times greater results. For example if someone was to start regular weight training (naturally) they may gain 5 pounds of muscle mass in a 6 month period. While using steroids this would most likely double or triple their gains, so around 10 – 15 pounds of muscle mass gained in the same 6 month period.

This is a 100 – 200 percent increase which seems like a lot. However that percentage massively decreases when talking about professional athletes and bodybuilders where extreme training, diet and great genetics play a massive and bigger part.

Myths about the effects of anabolic steroids

The exaggerated effects of steroids in professional bodybuilding

This is the most common and my favorite myth to debunk. Despite popular belief steroids are not a magic drug, they cannot transform the average guy into a muscular ripped hulk like creature. The truth is, successful bodybuilders have the right genetics to achieve what they do. Plus lots of hard work in the gym and the right type of diet.

Experts that study the effects of performance enhancing drugs on sports professionals say that they only give around a 5% performance boost, or muscle mass increase. This can increase to 10% for heavy users of steroids, so the idea that someone can’t achieve a ripped bodybuilder like physique without steroids is nonsense. Yes they will increase muscle development, but at the very least 90% of what you see in the biggest, most ripped body builder is natural, they have the right genetics, diet and training to make it possible.

Genetics

Bodybuilders have large quantities of fast twitch muscle fibers which respond much better to weight training than slow twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch fibers also allow for more explosive bursts of power like sprinters. This is why sprinters often have well muscled upper bodies. However the disadvantage of fast twitch muscle fibers is that they fatigue and drain quicker and they’re also more prone to muscle soreness.

When you see those pictures of bodybuilders with veins popping out everywhere, keep in mind that they are doing certain things to make themselves look as muscular as possible. Dehydrating themselves is one trick that improves definition as well as oiling themselves up and applying fake tan. However the most important thing that they do is getting a pump. So before a photo shoot, competition or whatever, they will be working out just minutes before they appear on whatever it is they are doing. This pump makes a massive difference, increaQuote about hard worksing muscle size and blood flow considerably making those veins pop out.

They will build muscle without training

In this world of instant gratification, people want things quickly without working for it. Some of these companies look to take advantage of this quick results culture. Misleading advertising adds to the misconception that people have about steroids and muscle development in general.

Even with steroids, someone still needs to train hard and eat well to get good results, there is no getting around this and there is no magic pill.

Women will turn into men  

Yes steroids can have undesirable effects on women such as unwanted hair growth, deepening of the voice and they can enlarge the clitoral area. However there are many different types of performance enhances and it depends greatly on how long they are used for. Under reasonable use any side effects are almost always reversible.

Personal thoughts

Do it the natural way! Work hard with good technique, eat well and in time you will get results. You don’t need steroids, their effectiveness is massively exaggerated and they could potentially harm your health, its just not worth it. Not everyone has the genetics to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jay Cutler and drugs won’t get your there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get great results.

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Basic Science Fitness Facts

It’s time to look past all the myths and nonsense and get down to the actual science facts and findings.

Basic Science Fitness Facts

I have been doing some new research into fitness including weight loss, fat burning and muscle building. I wanted to know all the results and facts of the latest scientific research in the confusing world of fitness. So in this article I will share with you what I found out.

Much of it mirrors what I have said before, but here it is anyway.

We have four main body types or physical conditions which are.

Underweight

The result of low muscle mass, body fat or both. Probably due to a lack of calories. Can be corrected by increased calorie intake and exercise.

Overweight 

Mostly the result of regularly exceeding more calories than the body requires. Can be reversed by a reduction in calories and or increased exercise.

Average

Achieved by a balanced amount of calorie consumption and exercise resulting in normal levels of body fat and muscle mass.

Muscular

This is higher than average levels of muscle mass with a relativity low body fat percentage, around 10 percent body fat or less. It can be achieved by regular exercise with a large percentage of this exercise being resistance training (weight training). Also a diet ideal for muscle development with a calorie intake slightly above the recommended amount.

What else can affect our fitness levels besides diet and exercise?

  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Hormone levels
  • Injuries
  • Hydration
  • Illness

Recommended Health and Fitness Guidelines

  • Exercise – High intensity 3 times a week for around 20 minutes or medium intensity 5 times a week.
  • Body Fat Percentage – Men 8 – 20% Women 15 – 28%.
  • Sleep – 7 – 8 hours of sleep recommended to maintain optimal health.

Mental Health

The facts show that good lifestyle choices such as eating well and exercising regularly influences our mental health in a positive way.

Stress

Stress can worsen existing health conditions including obesity and is believed to accelerate the ageing process. Exercise is proven to be an effective way to relieve stress.

Genetics

Genetics determine things like height and bone structure. It also determines the location of where body fat is stored. For example, the first body location for fat storage can be different for different people. For one person fat maybe stored first in the lower stomach area, for another person it could be the hips or thighs. Genetics doesn’t actually determine our overall body fat percentage, but life choices do determine it.

Metabolism

Despite popular belief, all our metabolisms differ only slightly. Foods we consume can affect the metabolism, obviously exercise can, and also the amount of muscle mass we have.

Calories In and Calories Out

Basically consuming more calories than your body requires results in the body storing the excess as body fat. The reverse happens when your bodies energy requirements exceeds the amount of calories you consume.

However all calories are not equal, the foods that you eat affect your hormone levels, and your hormones affect your bodies systems, including fat storage. So even if your calorie intake is at the right level for fat burning, you may still gain body fat if your hormones are out of balance.

The Low Fat Myth

What is the low fat myth and have you fallen for it? many have, low fat food products are everywhere but why?

There seems to by an ever increasing and popular myth that fat is bad. This misconception is being fueled further by the food industry. However in fairness food production companies are only giving the people what they want.

People want low fat foods because they believe fat is bad, and that eating fat makes us fat. There is some truth to this but only some. This misconception has led to the production of masses of low fat products.

Fat is a healthy part of our diets, and around 25 to 35 percent of our diets should consist of fats. So if that is true and fat is not a bad thing, then why are there so many food products out there in our shops with low fat written on the packaging? simply because the myth is such a strongly believed concept that the food companies are simply catering to us.

Does Eating Fat make us Fat?

No! eating too much and not exercising enough makes us fat.

Different Types of Fats

There still seems to be some confusion with regards to the different types of fat. Saturated fat is still considered to be bad for us, however there is a lack of evidence to support this idea, many years ago it was labelled as the bad guy.

Trans Fats

This is the fat that you should avoid, trans fat is a chemically modified fat which can be found in processed foods to give it a longer shelf life. Avoid it!

Fat Free Foods

These are still being advertised, fat free yogurt products are very common however many foods that are fat free or low in fat taste awful. So to improve the taste, other ingredients are added to make it taste better, like sugar for example or even artificial ingredients like sweeteners and such things which are unhealthy.

So these food companies are actually taking out good healthy natural fat, and replacing it with unhealthy artificial substitutes, which is craziness!.

Margarine was created as a low fat alternative to Butter, this was because fat especially saturated fat was being wrongly demonized. However butter is a natural product which contains natural fat as well as other vitamins and minerals to help maintain a healthy body. Margarine on the other hand is a chemically altered product which includes trans fats which are now understood to be very unhealthy for our bodies.

The bottom line is Fat is not the enemy, it is a healthy part of our diet which helps to achieve a healthy body, which is the best way of increasing our metabolisms which leads to healthy weight loss and reducing body fat.

Stay away from processed foods, trans fats and artificial products and don’t fuel this fat avoidance myth any longer.

Weight Training Routines for Women?

There are many benefits of weight training for women, however most women avoid it like the plague. This is probably because they see it as not feminine and not inline with their fitness goals.

Workout Routines for Women

Most women believe that cardio is the way to achieve their weight loss goals or ideal body. They fail to realize the potential benefits of weight training on fat burning and overall health and fitness. In fairness this belief is not just limited to women, it’s the belief of most people in general.

Why women avoid weight training?

The common belief most women have about weight training is that it’s a masculine activity aimed to achieve a muscular or bulky body (not feminine). The vast majority of most women don’t seek the muscular or bulky look, especially in the upper body.

Trust me when I say you don’t have to worry about becoming too muscular as a result of weight training. It’s not easy to increase muscle mass to a noticeable amount, especially for women. You are not going to wake up the next day after doing some weight training looking like a man. It just doesn’t happen that way so don’t worry about it.

Most women would find it very difficult, perhaps even impossible to achieve a muscular or bulky physique due to the lack of the hormone testosterone, and other genetic factors.

Benefits of weight training for women

  • Stronger Muscles. Now before you start saying things like “I don’t want big strong muscles”. Firstly strong muscles doesn’t mean muscular or bulky. Our muscles are incredibly important to our health, they allow us to move our bodies, lift objects and even help to pump blood around our bodies. Stronger muscles makes performing daily tasks easier it has nothing to do with being masculine or feminine.
  • Increased Metabolism. A little extra muscle will improve your bodies rate at which it burns calories, helping to burn that body fat and to keep it off.
  • Prevent injuries. Stronger muscles especially your core muscles leads to improved posture, which will make us look better and can help to prevent injuries and problems in your lower back and hip area.
  • Stronger bones, tendons and ligaments. Helping to prevent fractures and ligament damage.
  • Confidence. Making yourself stronger therefore making yourself more physically capable and fitter will help you feel more comfortable in your own skin, and improve your self-esteem.

There are in fact many more benefits that come from weight training, but I recently published a page on the benefits so I won’t bother listing anymore. See the previous post if you would like to read more about the benefits.

Don’t neglect your upper body

Often women who perform resistance workouts neglect their upper bodies, when I do see women in the gym they are almost always training their lower half. Squats and inner thigh exercises being the most common I see.

To achieve all round fitness, upper body exercises should also be included in your workouts. Workouts which target your whole body are proven to burn the most calories which means they have the best fat burning potential.

Don’t just hit the treadmill, running is great for your cardiovascular system, however alone it’s a very limited exercise. Running puts a lot of pressure on your knees and lower back. Running is a great exercise just don’t rely on it solely.

So basically don’t be afraid of weight training and train your whole body.

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Biggest Diet Mistakes for Building Muscle Mass

Biggest Bodybuilding Diet MistakesWhat are some of the biggest diet mistakes that weight lifters/bodybuilders make when trying to build muscle mass? this article is about the top diet mistakes that I have noticed and witnessed.

Eating well is a very important part when it comes to muscle development and fitness in general. Unfortunately there are a fair few myths and misconceptions floating about which people sometimes pay attention too.

Some of these diet misconceptions will not only limit development they could also potentially lead to health problems and increase the risk of injuries.

Over the years I have encountered many weightlifters and potential bodybuilders and I have heard all sorts of different advice and stories on what to eat to make the best gains. Unfortunately much of what I was told was completely nonsense or at best an exaggeration of the truth.

Biggest diet mistakes for building muscle

Consuming too much protein

One of the most common pieces of bodybuilding diet advice, is to consume massive amounts of protein! Some guys will have diets consisting almost entirely of meat and protein supplements, and much of it will be poor quality and high in saturated fat. The trouble is the body can only cope with a certain amount of protein at any given time, so much of the protein will simply not be used by the body.

Consuming too many calories

Has anybody given you this advice? “just eat eat and eat” or “just eat as much crap as possible” the reasoning behind this is to consume lots of calories. It’s true you do need a calorie surplus to build muscle mass, however this idea can just be taken to the extreme which is what happens here. Simply consuming too many calories will make you fat. If those calories are coming from junk food you are not going to be getting the right nutrients into your body, and without the right nutrients you will not improve or develop.

Only eating protein on workout days

I am not sure if this is common, however this is something that I use to do. I use to think that consuming protein was only necessary on days that I went to the gym. However this is a big mistake because our bodies need protein continuously. Our muscles grow and our bodies repair on our rest days and during sleep, so consuming quality protein is essential during rest days.

How long should my workout be?

How long should my workout beSo how long should you workout for? you may have heard many different opinions and ideas on this. These suggestions can range anywhere from as little as 30 minutes or less to 2 hours or more.

The truth is there is not any set time which is ideal to achieve results. The actual time that somebody should workout for varies greatly depending on a few factors.

So what are these factors?

  • How many times a week you train.
  • how many body parts you train in a single workout.
  • Whether you are a beginner with little workout experience.
  • How hard you train during your time.
  • How much talking/socializing you do in the gym.
  • What your goal is.
  • Time spent warming up or cooling down.
  • What training methods you are using.
  • Time spent getting dressed and showering and so on!
  • Also generally how much time you spend messing about before, after and during your workout.
  • Genetics, metabolisms and things that are party beyond our control.

There is no such thing as an ideal workout time period! it just doesn’t exist, so once we accept that we can move forward.

Can we spend too much time in the gym?

Basically yes we can, we can overload our muscles which could limit our progress and even cause injury. However over training is not directly linked to how much time we spend in the gym. You could spend 2 hours or longer in the gym everyday and not over train, it just depends on how much actual training is being done in that time period.

Is a 30 minute workout long enough?

Yes most definitely, if you just kept your workout to a single body part, or focused on compound exercises then that could be enough to make decent gains in strength and muscle mass. However as mentioned above it does depend on the intensity of the training that is performed during that 30 minutes.

Performing supersets or drop sets are also a much quicker way of getting through your sets therefore speeding up your workouts.

30 minutes is also a decent amount of time for a cardiovascular workout, training high intensity for 30 minutes can give your heart and lungs a good workout as well as burning off as many as 300+ calories.

On the flip side a 30 minute workout maybe too short to fit in a multi muscle targeted muscle building workout, it may not be enough time to sufficiently target those muscle groups in one workout.

So there really is not an ideal set time that you should be working out for, and it wouldn’t be a good idea to focus on that.

The harder you train in your workout, the less time you will need to be at the gym to get the results you are looking for.

Focus on consistency and intensity, not duration.

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So you don’t want to get too big or muscular!

I don't want to get too big or muscularI have talked to many people about their weight training goals. What they would like to achieve and so on and very often I hear this comment from both men and women. “I don’t want to get too big or muscular”. This belief often turns them completely off performing weight training or lifting heavy weights.

This maybe a very common concern for many people, but I can’t help being slightly amused and irritated by this line of thinking because it’s simply not true!

It’s very understandable why certain people don’t want to get too big. Most women don’t want a muscular body as it’s not considered to be feminine, and some men just want to gain a little extra muscle and get cut and go after that toned fitness model look.

The Myth!

The misconception is that lifting weights, especially lifting heavy weights will build muscle mass so quickly that the growth will go out of control and the individual will soon be looking like a professional bodybuilder or the incredible hulk. However the reality is very different, muscle takes a long time to build up. It requires the right diet and the right amount of intensive training to really make a difference, and of course the right genetics.

How quickly can you gain muscle?

The amount of muscle we can gain naturally for men is around 5 – 10lbs a year, and this is with a good solid intensive weight training routine and a suitable diet designed to gain muscle mass, continued throughout the whole year.

The amount of muscle women can gain in a single year is even less, for most women any gains will be unnoticeable. The truth of the matter is that most people will never be able to pack on loads of muscle mass because they simply just don’t have the right genetics for it. So if you are concerned about getting too big or muscular, don’t worry and consider that it might not even be possible for you, even if it’s possible it’s still hard to do and any gains will be slow and gradual.

Another thing to keep in mind when you are trying to avoiding looking like one of those very muscular male and female bodybuilders is, that many of them are on performance enhancing supplements. So unless you are going to go to the same extreme measures you needn’t worry yourself.

Whether your goal is to build mass or just a slight increase in muscle, the intensity of your workouts should remain the same. Lift heavy with good technique because this is how you gain muscle no matter what your goal is. When you eventually reach your goal you can simply reduce the amount of weight training you do, however don’t stop weight training completely or you may lose the muscle that you have gained.

So to sum up, don’t worry about getting too big or muscular. Muscle growth is slow and you are never going to wake up one morning and think, “dam! I’ve gotten too big!”.

Top 5 Workout Mistakes Men Make

Top 5 workout mistakes men makeThis is the top 5 workout mistakes that men make when it comes to weight lifting and building muscle.

Lifting too much weight

Guys lifting too much weight is very common and it’s a huge mistake for a few good reasons.

If you’re lifting beyond your ability your technique is going to suffer and if your technique suffers you are not going to be working those muscles effectively. If you don’t train your muscles effectively you are not going to see any improvements, or very little improvement anyway.

Another good reason to lift within your ability is to prevent injuries. Injuries will only set you back and they can set you back permanently with a serious injury. I have trained with guys that still haven’t recovered fully, even several years after the injury which was caused by lifting too heavy with poor technique.

Working out everyday

I did this during my first 6 months of weight training before I was educated by some more experienced lifters. Something that I learned was that our muscles actually grow while we are resting, you should be getting at least two days rest a week to allow those muscles to recover and grow. Working out every day could result in over training which could prevent muscle growth and increase the chance of injury and muscle tears. Training everyday could also be mentally draining and harm your motivation for the long term.

Unbalanced muscle targeting

Often people will focus on certain muscles and neglect others, a few examples of this would be training the abdominals and neglecting the lower back. Performing lots of pressing exercises for the chest and forgetting about the upper back and pulling exercises. Working the thighs and neglecting the hamstrings.

Not only will this lead to an uneven looking physique, it has the potential to cause injury. You should work at increasing the strength of all your muscles equally, this will result in a healthier, stronger and better looking physique.

Talking too much

It’s good to have someone to train with, having a spotter can be very helpful when weight training, they can help you push past failure during your final reps which helps to trigger muscle growth. However for obvious reasons if you spend most of your time socializing you’re not going to be training and if you’re not training you will not gain anything.

Performing the wrong exercises

If you’re just starting out there is a good chance you have been performing a lot of isolation exercises like bicep curls, tricep extensions and leg curls to build up those arms and legs. These exercises are great, however you should instead be performing compound exercises like the bench press, lat rows, pull ups, squats and deadlifts. These exercises will be far more effective when it comes to building muscle, including the muscles in the arms and legs, they will also burn off more calories, therefore potentially burning off more body fat.

It’s better to perform exercises like bicep and leg curls when you have already developed some mass in those areas as they will help to develop shape and definition.