Why Everyone Should Lift Weights, Even Yogis
Over at my website, http://www.afitnesspractitioner.com/, I write about things I’ve done. Things I’ve tried that worked and things I’ve tried and failed at. Subjects that I’ve studied and explored for decades, yes…over 20 years, with no ulterior motive other than wanting to learn more about the topics.
That’s what it means to be a practitioner. You do, not talk.
And because you do first, if and when you do choose to talk or write there is an authenticity to your words because they are backed by thousands of hours of practice.
That is why you all come to Lotus Kitty for all things yoga. The folks at Lotus Kitty are true practitioners. They walk the walk and are backed by real life experience. They are true practitioners and that is why their words are authentic.
While I’ve for years wanted to incorporate yoga into my exercise practice, I’ve never quite pulled the trigger. But what I have practiced, studied, and explored for decades is lifting weights.
And while I am no expert on yoga, I feel confident on speaking to why EVERYONE, even yogis, should lift weights.
First off, let’s clear up a few misconceptions when it comes to lifting weights. The majority of the misperceptions around lifting weights are due to visions of 300-pound bodybuilders or extremely jacked CrossFit athletes.
Let me be clear, those bodybuilders and CrossFit athletes should be proud of their bodies. I have MAJOR respect for what they accomplish. It’s a testament to determination, hard work, and intelligence.
But not everyone wants to look like that and that’s ok. And let’s put this out there, most of us COULDN’T look like that if we wanted to. Me included!
So with that context, let’s look at these misconceptions.
Misconception #1: I will become too bulky if I lift weights.
This can immediately be thrown out the window. You won’t get too bulky. And if you ever started trending that way, you’d know LONG in advance and could alter your programming accordingly.
The people who you see and think, “they are too bulky,” have probably devoted years, if not decades, to looking the way that they do. Their entire lives center on that devotion. From their exercise regimen, to what they eat, to how much they sleep, to even their alcohol consumption; it’s all a tool to fuel their performance. It is their obsession.
The reality is, you won’t go lift weights a few times a week and one year later look like that.
It doesn’t work like that, so don’t even worry about it.
Misconception #2 – Weightlifting makes you inflexible.
This is understandably a concern in the yoga community where flexibility is vital. But once again, while a 280-pound male bodybuilder may not be very flexible, they are not the norm for weightlifters.
Look at Olympic weightlifters. Those are the guys who you see on TV during the Olympics doing those insane lifts called the snatch and clean and jerk. Those athletes are either jacked, or HUGE in the heavyweight division. Yet they can get down in a deep squat…and I mean butt-one-inch-from-the-ground DEEP…while holding hundreds of pounds over their heads. That requires amazing flexibility and mobility.
The truth is that most athletes with solid muscle mass are incredibly flexible.
Another great example are gymnasts. They are some of the most flexible athletes in the world and they all super jacked.
So if you lift weights in a manner consistent with your yoga goals, there’s no need to worry that you will become inflexible.
Misconception #3 – Lifting weights means being egotistical and vain and yelling and grunting in the gym.
All these attributes are antithetical to the attributes of yoga which promotes mindfulness, peace, and a calm and meditative mental state.
Lifting weights does NOT mean living in this macho world of yelling and dropping weights on the floor. Maybe in the 70’s when it was a counter culture only practiced by a small few people that was the case. But it’s so mainstream now that those days are long-gone unless you belong to a gym that is focused on that type of environment. I love those types of places, but I understand it’s probably not the norm for most folks.
There’s probably tons more misconceptions out there. And if you have any others, shoot me an email at [email protected] asking me about them.
Now to the good stuff.
Why You Should Be Lifting Weights, Even Yogis
We’ve cleared up some misconceptions but let’s list the reasons why you should be lifting weights. To be transparent, these are the same reasons I lift weights and they are the same reasons why I tell my 65+-year-old parents that they too should be lifting weights. They’re pretty universal.
How Yoga helps in Depression & Anxiety and Stress-Reduction?
Accessible audits of a wide scope of yoga practices propose they can lessen the effect of misrepresented pressure reactions and might be useful for both uneasiness and discouragement. In this regard, yoga capacities like other self-relieving strategies, for example, reflection, unwinding, work out, or in any event, associating with companions.
Yoga can help lessen pressure since it advances unwinding, which is the characteristic inverse of stress. Yoga can profit three parts of ourselves that are regularly influenced by pressure: our body, brain, and relaxing. You don't need to stand by to feel worried to do yoga, and you shouldn't!
1. Makes you Stronger
First off, let’s have a quick primer on how you get stronger. Muscles are antifragile. When stress is applied to them, they get stronger.
You stress your muscles and follow that with adequate recovery. The muscles adapt to that stress and get stronger.
Stress -> Recovery -> Adapt -> Get Stronger
It’s a simple process but not easy in practice.
Lifting weights provides the necessary stress for this process to occur. So if you lift weights consistently, this process occurs and over time you get stronger and build more muscle.
2. Helps Stave off Disease
Muscle mass, which is acquired through lifting weights, is associated with a decrease in all-cause mortality.
That means that more muscle mass correlates to less risk of dying from a chronic disease than your peers have.
3. Strengthens Bones
As we get older, we lose muscle. This is known as sarcopenia. But our bones also become more frail which makes us much susceptible to falls and fractures.
But just like muscles are antifragile, they get stronger when placed under stress, so too are our bones. If we provide adequate stress they will maintain or even gain strength.
So lifting weights helps keep our bones strong and healthy which is vitally important as we age.
4. Makes you Happy
I’m sure everyone reading this knows the powerful mental health benefits that yoga brings you. Lifting weights brings those same benefits.
There is something so gratifying after completing a challenging weight lifting session. I’m sure it has something to do with the release of endorphins but to be honest, I don’t care too much what the detailed explanation is. I just know I feel dang good after a session.
5. Increases Balance, Mobility, and Flexibility
These traits are incredibly important in yoga. People who don’t lift weights don’t understand that it brings benefits in these areas.
Performing a squat with 100 pounds across your upper back, or lunging holding a dumbbell above your head quickly help develop balance. Also, using external weight, as opposed to just body weight, dramatically increases mobility because it gives you a little “push” into positions that you may not be able to achieve with just your body.
For example, when I was first squatting it was hard for me to get completely into a full depth squat where the crease in my hips extended below the crease in my knees. However, if I held a kettlebell in front of me, like one would in a goblet squat, it provided enough extra weight, almost as if a spotter was lightly pushing down on my upper back, to help me extend the extra few inches at the bottom to successfully reach full depth.
As I mentioned earlier in the misconceptions, go see how deep an Olympic weightlifter can get in their squat, no matter how big they are, to see how flexible weightlifters can be.
Over time, without any focus on stretching or mobility movements, my overall mobility has increased dramatically from lifting weights.
6. Increases Confidence
There’s something primal about picking up a weight. I’m sure it’s hard-wired into our DNA from our time as Paleolithic hunter-gathers when moving heavy objects was a way of life.
When I pick up a heavy weight and feel strong, it gives me a great deal of confidence that extends well outside of the gym to all other areas of my life.
It’s not just an immediate satisfaction either from the lifting of the weight. Just feeling strong in general has given me confidence overall in my life.
7. Changes the Shape of Your Body
A lot of people want to lose weight and understandably so. Being overweight brings many risks which are alleviated when the weight is lost. However, sometimes people lose weight and are still unhappy with the way they look.
That’s often due to the fact that losing weight doesn’t necessarily change the shape of your body. If you are overweight and specifically unhappy with the shape of your arms but then lose 20 pounds but gain no muscle, chances are you will still be unhappy with the shape of your arms.
That’s because you must build muscle to change the actual shape of those arms. And that is done through weight lifting.
So if you built some muscle in those arms, and simultaneously lost enough body fat that those new-found muscles were visible, you’d have successfully changed the shape of your body.
8. Better at Life
This isn’t a scientific proven fact. But as a practitioner, I don’t care if science necessarily hasn’t proven everything I believe. I’ve been weightlifting for over 20 years and I feel like it just makes me better at life.
At the end of the day, we are all looking to make our time on this earth as best as possible. You love the feeling you get from yoga and the joy it brings to your life. It fills you with pride, happiness, and a healthy self-awareness.
Lifting weights does the same thing. Like yoga, it will fill you with pride and happiness. But it is also the BEST tool to increase strength. And as we navigate through our lives in these bodies we were given, there’s no question that being strong is going to help us navigate this world better.
Head on over to afitnesspractitioner.com for lots of other information about health and fitness.
Our bodies and our minds are often spoken about as separate entities. You hear about exercising for the mind or exercising for the body. But people who practice yoga know better than most that our minds and bodies are connected. What impacts one impacts the other.
A healthy mind and a healthy body go hand in hand.
There’s no doubt yoga is one of the best tools in developing a healthy mind and body. It’s why I’ve wanted for so long to incorporate it into my exercise practice. It’s why I’ve committed to start incorporating yoga at least once a week. I’m sure many of you reading this think that once I get the bug, it’ll quickly spread to 2, 3, or even 4 times per week. I feel the same way…that if you all give weightlifting a shot you’ll want to incorporate it more and more as you see the benefits it provides.
So under the right supervision and guidance, and through following a safe routine, weightlifting has greatly enhanced the quality of my life.
I’d say if it’s done this for me, it can do it for anyone. Even yogis! Know more about yoga tools.
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