If there is one thing that brings me immense joy, is to train well and enjoy an excellent post workout meal afterwards.
Yes, that’s right.
Finding time for training sessions during the week, and planning what your meals are going to look like can actually be fun and worth the effort.
On the short term you’ll feel better, look better and live life with more confidence.
On the long run you will stay strong, healthy and mentally sane.
So how do you do you feel, look and live better?
How can you make your training fun?
How can you change your mindset and actually be looking forward to a training session?
To find out the answer to the above questions, I invite you to be curious and learn how to pick up a weight properly.
Choose your weight, whether it’s a barbell, dumbbell or kettlebell and start practicing these 5 important lifts:
- The Deadlift
- The Squat
- The Overhead Press
- The Bench Press
- The Row
These are all great exercises to focus on, because they deliver results and keep things interesting.
Now some of these exercises might have gotten a bad reputation as being “dangerous”, but before moving on, let me make myself clear on the dangers of lifting.
Lifting weights isn’t dangerous, lifting weights with crappy form is.
Your body knows what muscles to activate, and how to activate them in order to protect itself.
Adding too much weight too fast, doesn’t allow your body to adapt, but instead it forces it to compensate.
By compensating, you compromise posture and form.
In terms, you end up putting a lot of stress on your joints, for example your lower back.
Do this for weeks, month and years and you can end up in serious trouble, concluding that lifting is bad for your back.
If how much you lift is more important to you then how you lift, then by all means keep on lifting heavy, but don’t be surprised when injuries start to pop up.
With that being said, regularly performing these lifts will help you change your body composition, such as lose fat and gain muscle.
They will also help develop your athletic performance, giving you more strength, power and explosiveness.
And even if you are not concerned with athletic performance, these benefits still transfer to everyday life, making moving around and performing basic human task much easier.
Don’t believe me?
Pick up a barbell for 30 days and see how easier climbing stairs and carrying your bags from the car to your house gets.
Oh, and one more thing…
Ladies, if you are worried that lifting weights will make you bulky, worry no more because:
- Your testosterone levels are not as high as in men, so getting large muscles is more difficult to achieve.
- By lifting heavy and keeping the number of reps low, you will build strength, and not signal your muscles to get bigger.
Unlike fitness machines that isolate muscle groups, free weights require your body to work as a whole, activating more muscle groups and recruiting multiple joints in order to perform a movement.
When taking a look at these 5 lifts, don’t get fooled and believe that it’s only a leg exercise or chest exercise.
Having to pick the weight up, get into the starting position, and perform the exercise, all while having to stay balanced on your feet, requires a lot of muscle groups to work together.
Lifting weights with proper form requires skill.
You can notice someone’s skill level when you look at how they perform a lift. Skill shows up as beautiful movement.
If a lift looks clean and effortless, then chances are that person has a pretty good skill level.
Unfortunately, nowadays it’s pretty hard to see a display of skill.
If you take a look around you on the gym floor you might notice some fast, jerky, back breaking, out of balance movements.
In their rush for muscle gains, better looks and the ability to brag about how much they lift, some people tend to overlook the skill aspect.
Getting skilled at lifting requires focus, discipline and practice.
These are valuable things to learn and transfer to all aspects of life.
When getting started with your training session, besides showing up, give your best at being present, and focus at what you are doing.
As a result, I’m pretty sure you will never get bored while training.
Now let’s take a closer look at what each lift has to offer:
Believe it or not, the squat is an exercise that you’ve been doing for your whole life.
As a kid, the first thing you had to learn before you could walk was to squat. You first had to get up to move.
As an adult, you still need to get up to move, whether it’s from your chair, bed, car and so on.
Squatting is an excellent way to develop raw strength because it activates many muscle groups in your body.
It strengthens your legs, glutes, abs and back.
If you are looking to test yourself and experience new ways of feeling tension in your muscles, you can always try one of the following squat variations:
- Barbell Front Squat
- Goblet Squat
- Overhead Barbell Squat
- Bulgarian Split Squat
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2. The Deadlift
Lifting is another activity you do every day and it’s also a frequent cause for back pain.
The deadlift is great exercise since it teaches you how to lift properly. It strengthens your leg muscles, glutes, back and it builds grip strength.
The deadlift comes with its own challenging variations like:
- Sumo Deadlift
- Mixed Grip Deadlift
- Roamanian Deadlift
- Single Leg Deadlift
3. The Overhead Press
Overhead pressing is a vertical type of pushing. It’s a great way to build strong arms, shoulders and a strong chest.
Balancing a weight over your head can prove to be quite a challenge, and it might take awhile before you can increase the weight.
Your body has to learn how to stabilize itself. It does this by activating the shoulder muscles, core muscles and leg muscles so that you don’t topple over.
It’s worth to mention that overhead pressing is another basic movement pattern that you do frequently, every time you want to put something up on a shelve.
You can try out different variations of the overhead press like:
- Barbell Press
- Dumbbell Press
- Single Arm Dumbbell Press
- Kneeling Dumbbell Press
4. The Bench Press
Compared to the overhead press, the bench press is a type of horizontal pushing.
It has become more popular since it’s easier to add more weight, thus building up the arm and chest muscles, and increasing push strength.
Besides building up a big chest to impress the ladies, the added push strength comes in handy every time you push something away from your body, whether it’s opening a door or pushing your car out of a ditch.
As for variations you can try out:
- Barbell Bench Presses
- Dumbbell Bench Presses
- Single Arm Bench Presses
5. The Row
Done right, the row is an excellent exercise for you back and abs. The 3 point row is a great variation that teaches you how to hip hinge properly and keep a strong and stable upper back.
Learning how to hip hinge and getting strong in this position will help you get more out of your deadlift and perform it with better form.
Row variations for you to try out include:
The fitness industry has managed to do a great job a vilifying weight lifting, in order to sell more light weight, pink dumbbells to the ladies, pump up male egos or have you picking sides between bodybuilding or powerlifting.
Don’t get me wrong, you are free to pursue which ever path you like, and pick any side.
But deciding to picking up a weight, doesn’t automatically label you as a body builder, nor does it mean you will get injured, as long as you know what you are doing.
If you are willing to challenge yourself, make training fun, all while getting the results you want, take some time and learn how to perform these 5 lifts.
Article written by Razvan Dan Ene, MD. Razvan writes at Strength Therapy, where he helps people develop a healthy mind and body with a step by step approach. When you feel ready to take action, get his free special report.
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