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Great Reasons To Go Heavy

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Great Reasons To Go Heavy

What’s your weight? Nope, we’re not talking the figure on the scales, but the one on your barbell. In this case, bigger really is better. Resistance training in any form, whether it’s a Pump class or push-ups, is great for your body but making an effort to challenge your muscles with heavier weights than you may be used to has some seriously sizeable gains attached.

Worried about bulking up if you boost the load on your barbell? Don’t. We’ll always be the first to tell you that women lack the testosterone that’s needed to g row anything near Arnie-sized biceps. What you will gain from a boost in lean muscle mass and strength, however, could change the way you think about weight training forever. Interested? Get a load of these great reasons to go heavy.

1.    It helps you live longer

Fancy a few extra years on the planet? Lifting heavier weights can help you build essential muscle mass that could potentially save your life in the future. Studies have found that the more lean muscle mass you have, the greater your chances of living a long and healthy life. It comes down to its role in reducing blood pressure, reducing your risk of becoming obese or developing diabetes, and a decline in your chances of injuring yourself as you get older.

Lifting heavier weights can help you build essential muscle mass that could potentially save your life in the future.

Lifting heavier weights can help you build essential muscle mass that could potentially save your life in the future.

2.    It fights toxins

We put our bodies through a lot on a daily basis - think pollution, stress, coffee and alcohol - so it’s important that you’re healthy enough to fight off the damage that these stressors can cause. Eating plenty of vegetables and avoiding alcohol, smoking and caffeine can help, but living an all-round healthy lifestyle by adding heavy weight training will work wonders too. Your bones and muscles store important minerals that keep the body in good nick and support the immune system, and weight training helps keep these cell spaces healthy. Win-win!

3.    It makes you strong

Even if you’re not exercising solely to increase your strength, it’s a nice by-product. Not only is it empowering to carry your own heavy bags, but strength is also key to ensuring your quality of life remains high as you get older. Functional strength makes everyday life much easier, from taking the stairs to getting out of your chair. A stronger body also reduces your chance of falling and injuring yourself - and if it does happen, it’ll be far less likely to cause serious damage.

‘To increase strength you need to force the body to adapt to overload in the muscles,’ explains personal trainer Nick Finney (nickfinney.co.uk). ‘This means sticking to a low-rep range to ensure you are able to focus on your strength increases. Weights that lead you to reach failure in this rep range will be heavy enough to increase your strength.’

Weights that lead you to reach failure in this rep range will be heavy enough to increase your strength

Weights that lead you to reach failure in this rep range will be heavy enough to increase your strength

4.    It keeps you slim

‘I’ Yes, all types of exercise count in the fight against fat, but lifting heavy weights works in a way that’s quite different to most. ‘Think of it like this: a car with three people in it burns more fuel than a vehicle with only one person inside ¡t,’ explains Nick. ‘Lifting heavier weights and building more muscle demands more energy in the form of calories.’

Simply put, the more muscle tissue you’ve got, the more you have to tow around all day. The more you have to carry, the more energy and calories it takes to do so - even when you’re sitting down, sleeping and resting. And here’s the kicker: since muscle tissue is denser and takes up less space than fat, you’ll have more body mass to carry around, but you’ll look slimmer than if you carried that same weight in fatty tissue. ‘I guarantee that if you swap 2kg of fat for 2kg of muscle, you would not be looking bulkier!’ adds Nick.

5.    It builds your bones

Building muscle isn’t the only way that lifting heavy weights can help you stay healthy and injury-free as you get older. Pushing the weights to the upper ranges also boosts your bone density, which naturally declines as your age, leading to diseases such as osteoporosis.

Building muscle isn’t the only way that lifting heavy weights can help you stay healthy and injury-free as you get older.

Building muscle isn’t the only way that lifting heavy weights can help you stay healthy and injury-free as you get older.

‘There are two main factors necessary to increase your bone density: resistance exercises and the speed at which the force is applied,’ explains Nick. “In this instance, the higher the level of resistance, the greater the benefit on bone density. So the heavier the weight, the better the bone building effect”. A great reason to pile on the pounds!

While you’ll benefit from healthier bones during your youth, it’s also good to know that sculpting your silhouette with those big weights means you’re downgrading your risk of needing a hip replacement when you’re older.

6.    It wards off diabetes

With type 2 diabetes on the rise, it’s important to think about insulin resistance. Building lean muscle mass can help to boost your body’s ability to deal with the hormone insulin and lessen your chances of developing this serious condition.

‘Increasing your muscle mass with heavy weight training improves insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control,’ Nick says. ‘This stops us from gaining weight (in the form of fat) which could potentially lead to type 2 diabetes. And, in fact, weight training can improve insulin sensitivity by 48 per cent in people who are already struggling with type 2 diabetes.’

So, not only is lifting heavy weights a good preventative measure for type 2 diabetes, it’s also a potential solution.

Lift up

Ready to boost your weights? Try these moves with the heaviest weight you can manage with good form for five sets of five reps with one minute’s rest. You should struggle to perform the last rep

Squat

Technique

·         Push your hips back and bend your knees as if you’re sitting on a chair, until your thighs are parallel to the ground or deeper.

·         Push up through your heels to a standing position.

·         Lower and repeat.

Deadlift

Technique

Deadlift

Deadlift

·         Push your hips backward and bend your legs to take hold of a barbell on the floor.

·         Push your heels into the floor and extend your legs and hips.

·         Lower and repeat.

Chest press

Technique

·         Lie on a bench holding a barbell with both hands, with your arms extended toward the ceiling.

·         Slowly lower the barbell to your chest, then extend back to the top and repeat the exercise.

Bent-over row

Technique

Bent-over row

Bent-over row

·         Lean your upper body slightly forward, keeping your back straight and your knees bent.

·         Hold a barbell in both hands extended toward the ground.

·         Lift the barbell up to your waist then lower and repeat.

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