Prasanna Natarajan

Why you should lift weights

For the past 2 months I’ve started weight training based on the StrongLifts.com program. Fitness wise I feel great now. Never felt this better in the past 6 years.

You could exercise in any other form. You could jog, do yoga or just walk or even play table tennis and call it an exercise. But I’m going to disregard all of them as inferior options and will share here why weight training is the best.

Look around all the older people. Look at your parents. How do they look? Haven’t they shrunk in size? Did you notice their shoulders and see how small they’ve become? Their back has rounded, and their walk is never even. It’s just painful to see them not in their best shape. Their entire frame now is just a smaller version of what it used to be. Even if they are still fat, you can see that their bones have shortened.

The number one reason for this is that their muscles have become too small and too weak to be able to support their bones. Muscles are our bones reinforcements. They hold your bones together in proper shape, prevent bone wear and tear by acting as a cushion and help you lift weights.

If these supporting infrastructure is not taken care of, they’ll just weaken and they won’t be able to do their job of supporting the bones. That’s when you’ll see the shoulder drooping, curved back, bent knees, hip and joint pains and neck pains.

All these is caused by bones facing resistance by running against other bones that could’ve been prevented if muscles were in place.

This could all be fixed by having muscles that are bigger and stronger.

And the way to develop them is by lifting weights. Progressive weight training causes wear and tear of your muscles in the short term, but then they’ll repair quickly with good food and rest, and will grow back stronger in a few days to be able to handle the same weight easily the next time.

The other forms of exercise don’t focus on developing muscles or only builds selectively. If you run or jog regularly, your heart and leg muscles will be big and strong but all the muscles in your upper body will get nothing out of the effort unless you take care of them via some other exercises.

You need some muscular endurance to be able to do some touch yoga movements, but it won’t be enough to build what’s required or it would take much time and repetition to develop them.

Walking just ignores muscular development all over. It just cares that you do bare minimum leg workout and inhale plenty of oxygen.

But in weight lifting, your primary focus is to develop muscles using strength training. And there are exercise and programs to cover all of your muscles.

So this is the best exercise program to help you age safe. The muscles you’ll develop now and the weight training habits you have now will keep you in a great shape in your 60s and 70s. You’ll be able to enjoy life then instead of being misearble about your knees and joints.

The earlier you start this habit, the better. The reason is this. Your bones hold on to your muscles. But your muscles themselves hold on to tendons. While developing muscles is easy, growing strong tendons is not. It’s mostly what you are born with and you can only directly influence it using extreme exercises like powerlifting, clean and jerk movements.

Once you get older, these tendons will erode and be able to hold onto only very little of the muscles. This is the reason I fear we can’t ask older people to lift weights now. It would just be painful for them to lift without those strong tendons.

But I think they can still lift using the weight machines and with light weights.

So teach your parents and other old people to lift light weights and ask them to include these in their daily exercise routines, if they have one.

And you yourself should starting lifting weights.

If you are a man and you are over 30 and you’ve lost all zeal for life, then weight training will be your comeback secret. It increases your testosterone and you’ll feel like a man again.

If you are a woman, you should still lift. Don’t worry about looking like Serena Williams. She’s an outlier. You’ll never be able to become like her even if you tried. Women, due to their very nature, can’t develop bigger muscles as men. But you could still become much stronger and develop muscles without losing your “womanhood”.

So, lift weight to feel strong to age safely.

Btw, my current stats are:

This might not be hugely impressive (not yet squatting with the big-boy plate 20kg on each side). But I’m surprised at how heavy these light weights feel to me and yet not many regulars in my gym can squat or press this much.