Benefits of Lightweight | Lightweights vs heavyweights

There’s no denying that heavy lifting has its perks, including self-confidence. Being able to pick up something heavy, put it down with control, and watch yourself grow stronger and more capable each week? This is something special.

But the point is that heavy lifting is so beloved as an athlete’s way to improve performance that we tend to ignore those lighter weights that collect dust at the bottom of the weight rack (or in a garbage can on a shelf. the House). Those two and three pounds actually play an important role in your fitness routine.

The idea of ​​lifting light weights for strength is not without controversy. Meghan mcferran, professional dancer, fitness dance instructor and founder of City sweatshirt, knows it well. She has received criticism on social media from people who suggest that it is wrong to promote lifting light weights. But McFerran says that as a dancer she has always trained with bodyweight or resistance bands. In her classes, she incorporates weights of 1 to 3 pounds.

“My mission statement sees the movement as a celebration rather than a training,” says McFerran. “If your goal is just to be healthy and be active, it doesn’t matter how much weight you lift. A workout is a workout and movement is good for your body. Period. No weight required.

The idea that resistance training always has to be super heavy or else it doesn’t do anything for you can be a huge jerk to sportspeople who have just found their place in the gym. For beginners or for people who are just looking to make movement a more regular part of their routine, lifting light weights (or not at all) can distract from intimidating numbers and get them to exercise, explains McFerran.

There are a lot of benefits – which go beyond the psychological – of not focusing on super heavy lifting in all of your strength training. And these benefits apply to both beginners and experienced athletes alike. Here’s when lifting the light might actually be the smartest move for your workout.

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When lifting light weights is the smartest training move

You want to develop your endurance

Muscle endurance refers to the ability of muscles to work over an extended period of time. So instead of lifting something really heavy for 1-10 reps, the goal is to lift something that you can keep lifting for 15-20 (or even more) reps.

“By going lighter, you can exercise for longer, so muscle time under tension increases,” explains Blake Dircksen, DPT, CSCS, physiotherapist at Tailor-made treatments At New York. There is also more of the aerobic process that occurs when you lift for muscle endurance, and there is less strain on the central nervous system compared to heavy lifting, he adds.

As you can probably guess, muscular endurance is essential for runners. It’s what gives your muscles the stamina they need to keep going for many miles, says Dircksen. By working on muscular endurance, you can also strengthen yourself against overuse injuries.

“Running is a series of repetitions and cycles of the same thing over and over again,” explains Dircksen. “Endurance is something that can prepare you for those reps and be really protective against injury.”

Muscle endurance is most important in the areas of the body that take the most heat from running: the hips, calves and core. “We want these muscles to have greater endurance because we do a lot of different cycles with these particular muscles,” Dircksen explains.

The hips are probably the most important: they stabilize your pelvis with every step and take a lot of impact over the miles. Lifting heavy weights increases leg strength and your ability to produce power, but lifting light weights is what keeps you moving for the long haul.

PS This type of low-weight workout is what is typically used in physiotherapy to rehabilitate athletes after injury, Dircksen says. “It’s very well tolerated, generally perceived to be easier, and if you do it for longer you will get strength and endurance benefits,” he adds.

You perform complex movements and learn new skills

When trying to make a move that’s new to you, it’s important to keep it light, says Dircksen. It’s sort of a golden rule of lifting in general: start with light weights so you can perfect your form before increasing the resistance. You’ll still gain strength, even if you’re lifting lighter than you can theoretically handle, thanks to the neurological connections that form repetition after repetition, Dircksen says.

“There is a good amount of motor models because you are able to do so many reps of them,” he says. This repetition of a strength movement with a low weight allows your body and brain to learn the pattern so that you can crush it when you add heavier weights. If there’s one movement you want to learn or just want to improve yourself, starting light is the way to go.

Looking to train at speed

“Being able to build strength quickly is an advantage of lighter weights,” says Dircksen. This comes into play when you are working on velocity training or how far you can go in a certain amount of time. He calls velocity a “forgotten workout variable” because a lot of people don’t prioritize it in their routines.

Speed ​​training is a combination of strength and speed work – think of medical ball throws, where you have to use a weight heavy enough to be difficult but light enough that you can throw and catch it quickly without To hurt you. Another example is the jump squat with light dumbbells in the hands. You want to add a little resistance to increase the load your body can take, but it needs to be light enough that you jump with good form and speed.

“It’s something you can only really do with light weights or bodyweight,” Dircksen explains.

Lifting light weights allows you to move faster and push yourself at a higher heart rate for longer. You can swing a light weight and move it dynamically in a way that you cannot move, for example, a bar.

You just wanna lift for everyday life

Let’s look at rotation, a functional movement that is important to train to keep your back healthy and your core strong. You regularly turn when you turn to grab your seat belt or turn to chat with someone behind you or even put something on a top shelf when you’re not facing them.

Go too hard with rotational movements when training and you may cause serious problems. This is because these types of twisting exercises, for example woodchop and Russian twists, can be very bad for your lower back if you don’t do them carefully. (If you have lower back problems, your doctor may even advise against rotational work.) Lighter weights keep you in good shape and keep you from doing too much on your back, while still enjoying the advantages of these movements. Even if the weight seems too light, it is best to err on the side of caution.

Sarah apgar, founder and CEO of FitFighter, says that these kinds of functional movements, plus ones that require speed, are what inspired his signature weights (called the FitFighter Steelhose) —Which range from five to 50 pounds.

After leaving the military and becoming a volunteer firefighter, she realized that there was no standard strength training program. So, she started to create her own workouts and create her own tools with objects around the fire station, which eventually resulted in this equipment which is basically a part of a fire hose filled with steel. . She found this relatively lightweight tool to be perfect for performing drills that mimic the quick movements demanded by firefighting.

“Most humans aren’t well trained to move quickly under loads and that is partly because we’ve always thought of weightlifting to be about picking up and putting down dumbbells,” says Apgar. She says to think of resistance training as “moving weights” instead of “lifting weights,” leaving it open to whatever movement is most appropriate for work or sport (or just the event. life) that you train for.

In real life, we need to be able to react quickly if we miss a step going down the stairs or forget to run down the sidewalk step, says Apgar. Training with weights light enough that you can safely work out those quick and nimble twisting, spinning and jumping movements is what prepares you for real-world situations, whether you are a runner trying to dodge. a car, a mum on a playground rushing to grab her child, or a firefighter rushing to save lives. If you can do these things no matter your maximum of a rep anyway, right?

The bottom line when it comes to strength training

Lift heavy if you want to and if that’s your dream challenge. Some people prefer it to see strength gains and gain confidence. But if dumbbells or other heavy weights aren’t your thing – or worse yet, the thought of having to use them keeps you from weight training – you will still reap many benefits from those light dumbbells or other equipment that you do. can throw, spin or even pick up while you dance.

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Richard V. Johnson