You’ve likely heard writing be referred to as a muscle at some point or another. In order to get stronger as a writer, you’ve got to exercise that skill. You’ve got to lift heavy vocabulary and endure long enough to get to the end of a story. Like a muscle, writing also needs the occasional downtime in order to rest and recuperate so you can go back at it stronger than before.
So, how about your non-metaphorical muscles? If you’ve been paying attention during this series, you’ve probably noted how much I bring up the gym and strength training. Over the years, I find I keep returning to weightlifting as a default workout. As it turns out, there’s good reason for that, and good reason for anyone who wants to improve their health to incorporate strength training into their routine to at least a small degree. Why?
- Increased Strength: Yes, that’s an obvious one. But think about it—you’re not just getting stronger for strength’s sake. Being stronger overall can increase your balance, help you perform daily tasks more easily, and also prevents muscle loss as you get older.
- Stronger Bones: Consistent strength training has been shown to increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and injury.
- Stronger Heart: Strength training helps your heart beat more efficiently, reducing high blood pressure and the potential risk of heart disease.
- Higher Fat Burning: Muscle helps burn fat, didja know? Truth. For one thing, after you finish a strength training session, your body continues to burn calories throughout the day; it actually costs you more calories to build and maintain muscle than fat. Strength training can notch your natural metabolism up by 15%.
- Better Workouts: Even if your main exercise routine isn’t strength training (say running, swimming, climbing, etc.) being stronger overall will help improve your performance in those other activities as well!
- Highly Efficient: We’re all busy people, and finding time to exercise consistently can be one of the bigger challenges we deal with in this area. If you’re tired of spending hours upon hours on a treadmill or bike, consider strength training as a time-saving option. You can easily put in a solid workout in less than an hour, and you never have to increase the timeframe to see gains—just increase the weight you’re lifting.
For those who still might be hesitant, know that you can strength train without ever entering a gym or investing in a bunch of home equipment. Bodyweight exercises and resistance bands are two options that can boost strength without requiring dumbbells or barbells. Nor do you have to do only strength training and nothing but. If you enjoy more cardio or getting your workout in by hiking, climbing, walking the dogs, whatever…that’s all great! Just know that adding some strength/resistance training can really enhance your progress in a lot of ways. Give it a chance.
Side note: In many circles, both online and off, I’ve noted a trend where women in particular are leery of strength training. One of the most common worries is “I don’t want to get bulky.” The reality comes down to hormonal differences. Women have naturally higher estrogen levels, whereas men have around 20x higher testosterone levels, which is directly responsible for protein synthesis and adding muscle mass (this is why a lot of bodybuilders take testosterone supplements). When women lift, the result isn’t significant mass gain, but muscle tone, increased strength, and endurance—and weight loss.
Have you ever given strength training a try? If so, how has it worked out for you? Do you feel improvement in other areas of your life as you strength your body? If not, what’s holding you back?