Last week, Tara asked many of her readers why they lift. She then shared all of their responses in this awesome post (which, if you “like” my facebook page you’ve probably already seen, because I shared it there too!). This got me thinking about why I lift, but when it came time to comment on her post, I had a hard time coming up with a quick answer. There are many reasons why I lift, and fitting it all into a couple of sentences for a blog comment was tough! So I’ve decided to take Tara’s prompt and turn it into a post of my own.
I think there are a lot of ladies (and quite frankly, men as well) who don’t understand why ladies like Tara and myself lift heavy weights. “Do you want to look like a man?” Some people ask. Or, more frequently, “what are you training for, anyway?“, as if the only reason to train hard is to have a specific event or end point. The simple answer is, I lift for me.
Language! Sorry mom.
The longer answer? Read on.
The top 10 reasons (in no particular order) why I lift are…
1. It makes me feel powerful. Plain and simple. I’ve done many types of exercise in my life, and while I do enjoy other things besides lifting, none of them make me feel as powerful as when I have a loaded barbell across my back or when I lock out at the top of a dead lift. There is nothing like finally benching 100 lb, or finally squatting my body weight that I’ve experienced when it comes to fitness. Weight room PRs are purely about power and strength. That is amazing to me.
2. It helps me live life a little easier. I don’t struggle carrying heavy grocery bags home from the store. I can bike to work with a heavy bag on my back and not worry about it. I am able to lift heavy boxes and move furniture when moving day arrives, and I’m not going to cry about it or organize while the boys move the heavy stuff. Give me the heavy stuff. I promise, I can handle it. As an athletic trainer, I carry a med kit that runs anywhere from 30-40 pounds on a given day. That med kit goes with me wherever I go when I’m covering an event, so you’d better bet that lifting makes that a little bit easier to carry around.
3. I hate running. I’ve said it on here before, and I’ll probably say it again. I hate running. (see?) I’ve tried to enjoy running; I’ve tried to hit that mythical “runners high”, but it just isn’t there for me. You know what is there? “Lifters high”, if that’s even a thing. Big lift days leave me both exhausted and on top of the world, a combination that I’ll take any day of the week.
4. I find muscles to be aesthetically pleasing. This is purely personal taste. I find muscular people to be very attractive, while some people don’t. You might look at a woman with muscles and find her “manly” or “bulky”, while I will probably look at her and think she looks strong and beautiful. It’s just my opinion, and while I strongly support your choice to a differing opinion, I’ll still probably tell you you’re wrong on this one. Just saying.
5. I love being able to say “no”, and truly mean it, when someone asks me if I need help carrying something. This one is not a catch-all. Sometimes I truly do need help carrying something (I’m not superwoman, as much as I’d like to think I am), and sometimes I just want someone to help out. But it is comforting to know that I usually don’t need the help, and that if there were no one available to help, I’d be ok. It’s also nice to see the look on some people’s faces when they see me carrying something that a girl my size “shouldn’t” be able to carry.
6. I can climb things. I know this sounds a little silly, but being able to lift your own body weight is truly a valuable skill in my opinion. I can climb ropes if I’m doing an obstacle course race, and God forbid if I ever got in a situation where I had to be able to pull myself out of somewhere, I know that I’m strong enough to do so. Pull ups can be life savers, and while I say this somewhat facetiously, it’s actually true in certain situations. (Like, say, being chased by dogs… or zombies… or if you happen to find yourself in the Hunger Games. You know, those types of real life scenarios).
7. I’m constantly working towards new goals. Just like runners who are on an endless hunt for race PRs, I’m consistently working towards PRs and new goals in the weight room. It gives me something to look forward to, and also a huge sense of accomplishment each time I reach one of these goals.
8. Because I love to eat. You didn’t think I would leave this off this list, did you? I love food. Food loves me. You know what muscles need in order to get bigger and stronger? Food. You know what helps your muscles recover after a big lift? Food. You know what doesn’t help your muscles recover? Avoiding food like it’s the devil. Many different varieties of protein, fats, and carbs are all part of my regular diet, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
9. It’s good for the soul. This goes back to #3 in a way. I have never been able to find peace while running, and yoga, while I love it, isn’t my go-to stress reliever either. The number one thing that I’ve found that helps me when I’m stressed is lifting. There is something about the focus, the rhythm, and the selfishness of lifting that calms me and de-stresses me. It is my therapy, as running or yoga is for many others.
10. I like my shoulders. And I want to keep them this way (and also continue to improve them!). I still have a lot to work on and I know I’m very far from perfect, but I’m proud of my shoulders every time I see them in the mirror. Lifting weights can make you see amazing progress, and can make you fall in love with your body when most people spend their days criticizing theirs. I still don’t love every part of me, and I know that that’s something I’ll work on forever, but lifting really has given me some nice things to focus my attention on in the meantime.
Lady lifters aren’t anything new! This is Abbye “Pudgy” Stockton, a famous female weightlifter from the 1940s.
So now that you have my top 10, what are some reasons why you lift? Or if you aren’t as into weight lifting as I wish you are, what are some reasons why you run/yoga/zumba/etc? Do you tend to set more aesthetic or performance based goals?