For my first blog as part of 180 Health and Fitness I thought I’d go for something close to my heart – lifting weights, particularly compound exercises. First of all, what is a compound exercise? It is any exercise that involves the use of more than one joint to move therefore recruiting multiple muscle groups. For example the squat requires your hips, knees and ankles to move and primarily involves your quadriceps (thigh), hamstrings (back of your leg) and glutes (bum).
On the other hand a bicep curl only requires your elbow to bend and only really engages the biceps muscles to a large extent to complete the lift and is therefore classed as an isolation exercise. I should also define what I mean by lifting weights.
To me weight lifting is any action where you are moving a weight against gravity. This can be an Olympic bar with weights on either end, it can be a machine with loaded weights, but importantly it can also be bodyweight. All three of the above are perfectly viable ways to carry out resistance exercise.
First let me start by stating lifting weights (even great big heavy ones) won’t make you big, yep I said it, lifting weights won’t make you big. You need to eat for it – 80/20 isn’t just about weight loss, it’s about weight gain. Big muscled guys don’t get that way by lifting weights and letting the rest take care of itself, they have to work on the nutrition side as well, if you’re not on a high protein, high calorie nutrition plan you will not become the next Arnold Schwarzenegger.
You will probably though:
* Get stronger:
Strength isn’t always related to size, look at the lightweight guys and gals weight lifting at the Olympics – phenomenal weights from small frames). You might not care about this, but think about the day to day chores that tire you out
Traditional cardio isn’t the only way to get rid of those extra pounds – a couple of sets of heavy squats taken close to failure will have you blowing hard (same goes for other compound exercises)
* Get fitter:
As above, if you do repeated hard sets of resistance training with limited rest it can be just as effective as a HIIT (high intensity interval training) cardio session. Improve balance and co-ordination: compound lifts require multiple muscle groups and joints to work together to complete each rep
* Look more toned:
Lifting heavier primarily results in muscle adaptation in the form of fibre thickness – i.e. the muscle fibres get a little thicker resulting in increased muscle density – a denser muscle is a more toned looking muscle.
So there you have it, lifting isn’t just for guys who want to be built like a tank, it’s for everyone and has fantastic carry-overs in to other aspects of your life.
Go out there and Lift!
Posted on 05/11/2014
by Joe Mills