I had a friend ask me recently, “So Ben, what is it, man? Is it 70/30 for diet/exercise? Is it just lifting? Is it all nutrition? What is it? How are you so fit?” I responded with, “I just take a bunch of pills, man.” Haha. I am totally joking in case you didn’t catch that.
The truth is that fitness is so many things wrapped into one that there is no real true answer. Ask 10 trainers or fitness pros and you will probably get 10 different answers. Chances are you’ll hear yoga, or that you have to run, or that you have to drink this, or that you have to bike, dance, spin— the list is unending. That is because we are all different and there is not a “one size fits all” for any of us.
Before I go into what being “fit” really is, let me just say that being thin is not fit. I can’t tell you how many times I meet with people who appear to be “fit” but when we test them, we find a high body fat percentage. This is what we call “skinny fat” and it’s just as dangerous as being “fat.” We all know how important it is to control body fat, right?
Look, I love all aspects of fitness and I do believe we need a good mix of everything, but if I had to dig down deep to the root for getting fit, the number one thing I would say is strength training. Without strength and good muscle tissue, we are not using our bodies the way they were designed to be used.
Let me go a little further on the whole “thin versus fit” thing. With “thin” or “skinny fat” people you will find that their body fat percentage will be higher than ideal— even though you won’t see a lot of fat on them, if their muscle percentage is low, then the fat percentage will be higher. Their resting metabolism will be low since little muscle is present to burn calories at rest. Their body won’t be functionally strong, which will lead to injuries and frustrations.
All right, so what do we do knowing this?
Simply put, strength training happens when your muscle has to overcome a resistance. When the resistance is high enough, the muscle will adapt. Your endurance increases, muscle grows and in turn you burn fat. There are so many ways to do this— dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, bars, balls, cables, sandbags and, yes, your bodyweight.
You lift weights against a resistance and the following happens:
Increased muscle tone
Cardiovascular capacity increases
Chances of injury get decreased
If that doesn’t get your attention, then know that I’ve helped hundreds if not thousands of clients at Xceleration Fitness lose 10, 30, 70 and even more than 100 pounds by using strength training.
Stay with me.
Here are 9 Reasons Why I Like Strength Training
1. To Build Muscle: I can already hear the ladies out there asking and the answer is…. NO, you will not “bulk up” from lifting weights. You won’t. If it happens, you can come fire me. What will happen is: lower body fat, better energy, flatter tummy and a more defined body from head to toe. Believe it.
2. To lose fat: When there is more muscle on the body, you burn fat just sitting still. The muscle uses food and nutrients way better than fat, and muscle is actually alive and active! Fat just sits there, muscle kicks it the eff out! You feel me?
3. To build strong bones: If you don’t use ‘em, you lose ‘em! Remember that saying? Osteoporosis is real and we need a way to combat it. Well, that’s what strength training does. You will stress your bones and make them stronger. So when you fall down or slip up, the chances of breaking your bones goes way down.
4. To alleviate anxiety, stress and depression: There is a saying on our wall: “‘Wow, I regret that workout,’ said nobody ever.” It’s true. When you lift you will release chemicals in your brain—endorphins that make you feel better! Yeah, that’s a much better approach than popping a pill.
5. To sleep better: Again, a much better alternative to pills. Lifting spikes all the hormones your body loves and controls your adrenal glands better. Your muscles will beg you to recover, making your sleep more effective (and more important!).
6. To improve insulin sensitivity: Yet again, we are saved by the weight training. I can’t tell you how many people I know with diabetes who have been helped with strength training. Prescriptions get taken away because of the new health and money is saved from strength training.
7. To improve good-to-bad cholesterol ratio: Yes, it helps. Blood pressure and heart health are improved with strength training. To build muscle, you need oxygen. As we lift more and more, our bodies get better at transporting the oxygen. Your heart adapts and gets stronger. Your cholesterol gets lower and you make your doctors happy as hell.
8. To raise your metabolism: Yep! This is all a byproduct from the adaptation your body goes through from overcoming the resistance. The benefits are just endless!
9. You get shredded: More muscle = less fat on your body. Less fat on your body helps reveal more muscles. So yeah, you are no longer scared to take your shirt off in or get in that bikini!
Last but not least, your butt will be lifted and firmer. Who doesn’t want that?