Weightlifting is an interesting activity. When you deadlift a heavy barbell, you’re using every part of your body. Your arms, your shoulders, your core, your hamstrings, your knees – and especially, your mind. And when you manage to lift a weight that you never managed before, the euphoric endorphin rush that goes through you hits like a knife.
Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body and mind, helping to relieve depression and stress – this is why so many people refer to a “runner’s high”, which is the rush of happiness and euphoria experienced by many people when endorphins are released after jogging. Lifting has a similar effect. Regular exercise has been shown not only to relieve stress and depression, but to improve self-esteem and sleeping patterns.
So, why weightlifting in particular? Well, for one thing, weightlifting is a high-intensity workout. Until fairly recently, long, low-intensity workouts were seen as superior for people wanting to improve their mental and physical health. Jogging on a treadmill at a regular pace for an hour or so was the goal. This kind of workout has lately been superseded by HIIT workouts – high intensity interval training, in which you run at full sprint for a minute or so, take a break, then do it all over again.
This kind of short, intense attack is actually the most efficient to improve your health. Weightlifting fits right into this category, as you load your bar for fifteen seconds or so of incredibly intense effort, then let it drop and feel your whole being flood with euphoria.
If you’re interested in trying out weightlifting, the most important thing to do is find a good coach. You need someone who will make sure that you start off lifting light, even with just a plastic rod or wooden baton at first, to ensure your technique is perfect. Weightlifting with bad form is incredibly dangerous and can lead to serious injuries, particularly to the back. You need to make sure that your chest is out, the bar is in contact with your body, and that you’re lifting from the hamstrings without ever rounding your back.
It’s very hard to know if you’re doing it right on your own at first, which is why a good coach is essential. Once you have the techniques down and understand how to perform different lifts – from deadlifting, to snatches, to thrusters, to clean and jerks – then you can start increasing the weight of your bar.
Weightlifting is great for your mental health. Every time you beat your previous personal best, there’s an immense satisfaction to it. When you succeed in lifting something so heavy it once seemed impossible, the endorphin and serotonin rush is unrivaled.
It’s also great for your body, as it firms and tones and builds muscle pretty much all over: your abs, your shoulders, your upper back, your thighs and your biceps will see the most obvious gains, but it’s also great for your heart and your respiratory system, as you learn to control your breathing as you lift.
In discovering the particular joys of weightlifting, the increased physical and mental positivity will affect every part of your life, boosting energy and productivity, and enhancing brain power. Why not give it a try?