Should weightlifting and strength training only be left to athletes at the top 1% of their game?
The short answer – absolutely not.
The weights area can be an intimidating place to step into for the first time, in a gym setting, however, I believe that we’re all in the gym to better ourselves – whether that’s to become stronger, fitter, repair or rehabilitate after an injury, or to mentally feel better about oneself. The best thing you can do is to give it a try. I’d highly recommend getting a good coach to help you begin your weights journey, someone to guide you towards your goals. If that isn’t possible, simply seek the advice of those who are already in the weights area, or talk to a member of the gym team who I’m sure will have words of advice based on their personal experiences. Apart from not knowing how to begin your journey, the two main concerns I hear surrounding weight training are the following: “lifting weights will make me bulky,” and “it’s not functional and it will make me stiff and robotic.”
To tackle the first point of the “bulky” aesthetic associated with weightlifting – if it were really that easy, I think that most of the population would look like they were sculpted by ancient Greeks. It takes years of dedication and training alongside a surplus of calorie and very high protein intake to build that kind of physique. Touching a barbell or performing a snatch does not add on mass. What it will do for you however, is it will make you far more resilient against every day strenuous actions like picking up your children/grandchildren or complete household chores and will allow you to do so for longer. Strength training with correct technique and load management will directly improve quality of life as you get older, and it is never too late to start laying down the foundations.
Finally the term “functional” has become every fitness professional’s favourite buzz word, blindly used to help distinguish whatever service they’re selling. However, no exercise, no matter how simple or complex it may seem is inherently dysfunctional. Weakness is dysfunction for every single person on this planet. Now I’m not saying you must strive to deadlift 500kg+, but what I am preaching is that weakness of a joint, muscle, or connective tissue is the enemy, regardless of how far along you are on your fitness journey. Sometimes running a quicker 5K isn’t simply practising the distance. It’s putting in the work in the weights room, strengthening your lower limbs to increase your power output and decrease your likelihood of injury.
If any of this article has resonated with you at all or at least tweaked your interest do not hesitate to visit COACH LONDON. Our aim is not only to get you to your goals but also educate you on the importance of a well-balanced lifestyle – including the wonderful benefits of weightlifting and strength training of course!
Written by Marcus Tan, Senior Coach and Olympic Weightlifting Instructor at COACH LONDON, Luxury gym St. James’s