In May 2021, I wrote an article called, “Tell me lies, tell me lies, tell me sweet lies” (read it here).
This article debunked some of the most common fitness industry lies, as well as answered some questions I had been getting from clients. However, in today’s post, I want to talk about some difficult weight training truths that the fitness industry needs to start accepting.
- Getting enough sleep, managing stress, and consistently eating healthy are more important than working out
A lot of people struggle with this one because none of these things are emphasized enough. Of course, the fitness industry is going to promote exercise – “fitness” is literally in the title. However, there is more to “being fit” than just working out. No one puts up a picture on Instagram and says “I got 8-hours of sleep today” – unfortunately – that’s pretty boring and doesn’t sell in social media. What does sell, or grabs people’s attention, is someone doing a heavy lift (and of course looking fabulous doing it). Remember, whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle, the body needs time to recover. During exercise, you’ve broken down muscle fibers; the body needs time to repair those muscles (using protein from food); getting enough sleep; managing stress (as it limits performance and inhibits your body from functioning optimally); and eating healthy are the ways to accomplish this. Being consistent with these three things is arguably more important than working out. For those of you who always feel guilty for missing a workout once in a while, this is an important truth to grab hold of (myself included).
- Heavy deadlifting and squatting is NOT for everyone
This is a tricky statement to make. Many fitness professionals would argue that squatting and deadlifting should pretty much be done by everyone, and I would tend to agree. But I use the word heavy – heavy deadlifting and squatting should not be done by everyone. Now, what defines a “heavy” lift? What could be heavy to one person may be super light to another – it can be difficult to assess. The answer is: it depends! It depends on the age, strength, and experience level of the person you’re working with. The bigger question you should be asking is about risk versus reward or, contraindication as we call it in health care. This basically means, is it worth it to strain someone under a heavy load. If you’re an athlete in your off-season, you might consider lifting heavier to keep up with your gains until the season starts back up again. If you’re someone in your 80’s, you’ve just started weight training, and you struggle with arthritis, it’s worth considering the risk vs. reward. Not to say that older adults can’t do it, they most certainly can with the right training, but always take the time to assess where someone is at, before throwing them into a “heavy” lift.
- You NEED to lift well before you lift heavy
Now some of you might be thinking “well, duh” but I don’t know how many people I see in the gym lifting heavy with horrid form. It’s a recipe for injury. Focusing on how you lift (ie. technique and form) is more important than how much you can lift. If you want to avoid injury and stay active in the gym for as long as possible (ideally your entire life), check your ego at the door and lift correctly.
Find the joy, be kind, and we’ll chat again soon,
Have questions? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org