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If you join me for any of my classes, chances are high that you’ll hear me say, “more muscle is a good thing.”

I love large group exercise because we get to do it together; instead of solo in our basements which is not nearly as inspiring. Even though my job is as an Exercise Physiologist, big classes bring out the best in me. I cheer others on, laugh, give high fives, push outside of my comfort zone, squeeze out extra reps, run a little faster for a little longer and regularly pick up heavier weights.

Most people know that lifting heavy weights is good for our health, but understanding the why and how is another story. Here are just a few highlights:

  1. Muscular hypertrophy (it’s a fallacy that lifting light weights for high rep counts will help you to gain lean muscle. Muscle IS lean and the only way to increase the number and size of muscle fibers is to lift heavier than you have previously. Smart progression is key)
  2. More muscle = higher resting metabolic rate. This means you burn more calories at rest; your body needs more calories for normal daily activities. Longterm, this lowers body fat percentage, improves performance and increases output during workouts (you can accomplish more in the same amount of time).
  3. Brain health & reduced chances for Alzheimer’s Disease (yes lifting can prevent and slow the appearance of the disease- a recent study demonstrated that resistance training reduced the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, a key feature of Alzheimer’s disease)

-Bone density increases
-Cardiovascular health
-Improve insulin sensitivity
-Decrease low back pain
-Decrease discomfort and pain from arthritis and fibromyalgia
-Mobility improvement
-Functional living & ease during daily tasks
-Increased energy levels
-Balance improvement
-Reduced chances for common overuse injuries
-Mental health and wellbeing (strength training decreases depression and anxiety)

It’s fun to be able to lift heavy things and have a couple party tricks up your sleeve (cough cough: pistol squats)

One of the caveats of the above list is that you are continually progressing. If you’ve been using the same weights for any given exercise for more than 6 months (assuming you’re injury free & don’t have physician-assigned limitations), you won’t get all of the benefits above. In order to reap them, regularly creating micro tears in your muscles and rebuilding bigger stronger muscles is key.

*Also nutrition is a key factor to gaining skeletal muscle, but that’s a topic for another blog post. Here’s a trainer tip as to how to progress to heavier weights this month at BluePrint:

Week 1 – for each given exercise use one level heavier for the first set and then your normal ones for the next 2 sets. Example/ 17.5lb set 1 + 15lb sets 2 & 3.
Week 2 – for each given exercise use one level heavier for the first two sets and then your normal ones for the final set. Example/ 17.5lb sets 1 & 2 + 15lb set 3.
Week 3 – all in on the heavier set (never going back!)
Week 4 – do it all again with 20lb. More muscle is a good thing!