I’ve been a gym rat most of my adult life. Weights became a thing for me at age 17, and my affinity for the iron hasn’t waned.
Many people play around with weight machines, or tinker with free weights. Others shy away, bothered by the noise real lifting creates, and maybe the personalities a weight room attracts. Not me. I’ve never felt self-conscious about lifting when the real big boys were around. I’m not the biggest, strongest dude around, but that doesn’t bother me. I just do my thing.
But I often hear about how maybe I should do other things. That people of my age shouldn’t lift heavy weights. Or that being a gym rat is too “indoorsy,” and how you can get all that strength training doing stuff outside (sorry, but you can’t). And more than a few of my female friends have heard endless dronings about how they shouldn’t lift because they don’t want to get big.
Well, you can (and should) do resistance training deep into old age (way past my age for sure). And ladies, those barbells and dumbbells will do you a lot of good without making you look like a linebacker.
So in the spirit of my last post, here are five reasons why I lift…
Because it’s a stress-reliever. Had a rough day? Someone tick you off? Get under a bar or pick up some iron and take out your aggression in the gym. The controlled violence of the lift and endorphin rush when you’re done might leave you wrecked when you leave, but you will feel awesome. It sure beats eating your problems, punching your boss or drinking your woes away.
Because it makes me a much healthier human being. Strength training builds up your muscles, and when done right, increases mobility, stamina and athleticism. A weak body is often a sicker body. Strong ones tend to stay healthier for much longer, and can leave you active and capable well into old age.
Because being strong is useful. A powerful body can do more things than a weak one can. That’s not an opinion. It’s an objective reality. It goes beyond opening pickle jars, too. The physical labor you can do, the punishment you can endure, the ability to take care of business in a dark alley — all these things are made easier when you’re strong. Strength isn’t the only factor, but it’s a damn important one. When it comes to the physical tasks and challenges you face, being strong is more useful than being weak.
Because I can. Sort of like what I wrote about running, I’ve been given one body and one life. If lifting heavy things can make that life better, I should do it. And if I see a heavy thing I want to move and have that ability, I want to because I can. Not everyone has that option, but I do. Might as well use it.
Because there are few things that will make you feel as boss as lifting something big. Looking for a confidence booster? Set a goal to lift a certain amount of weight you cannot do now. Train for it. And then do it. It may sound superficial, but when you accomplish that goal, it will make you wonder what else you can do once you set your mind to it. That’s how I feel every time I load a bunch of weight on the bar, walk up to it, and pick it up off the ground. And best yet, the process of getting to that point will leave you stronger, healthier and more mentally disciplined than when you started. There’s a lot to like about all of that.
Do you lift? What are your reasons for hitting the iron? Holler in the comments.