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Front squat 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 reps

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Tanja, getting after it! 

Lifting Heavy Weight: What it Will and Won’t do to Your Body – By Dan Young

There are few myths regarding fitness that seem to come up as often and lead people in the wrong direction as much as the idea that lifting heavy weight will make you look like a body builder or just “too muscle-ly”.  (Not to mention little else drives your CrossFit trainers as crazy as trying to explain its fallacy a million times per heavy WOD post.) Most think, it’s common sense that lifting heavy weight will start to make you look like Ronnie Coleman and that doing high reps of light weight will make you “toned”.  After all, we’ve all seen what it does to people. Lifting heavy weights makes you want to wear a speedo, put on some fake tan and strut on stage and pray you don’t get popped by the drug tests. Women get facial hair and deeper voices and man-boobs.

Here’s the problem: Its wrong.

Lifting heavy weights will NOT make you uber muscled. Has it ever occurred to you how hard body builders have to work to look like that? Here is what it takes to look like a body builder.

1) Genetics, a predisposition to build mass. 
2) Steroids.
3) A diet of 5000-8000 calories a day.
4) “Bulking up” takes years of the crap above. 

For women, it’s even harder (even if you try). The pumped up image most women have of lifting weights is due to the FEW on the cover of magazines who chemically altered their bodies.  “How’d your voice get so low Sally?”  Women naturally have 15-20 times less testosterone than men and hence are simply unable to build the muscle mass often associated with weight training.  Keep in mind weight training is entirely different then weight lifting, aesthetic vs. function.

Though there is some debate about the exact numbers, studies have found that lifting weights with reps of 8-20 actually tends to cause hypertrophy, a.k.a. muscle bulk.  This muscle mass however is not all that strong, nor is it efficient (that's why a tabata workout will crush most body builders). In other words, your average “toning” regiment workout from trainer DouchebagMagee at your local globo-gym isn’t doing any toning at all but it really doesn’t matter anyway because your body isn’t pumped full of enough chemicals or cheeseburgers to make a difference.

So if we’re not building hulk necks when we lift heavy, what heck are we doing?  

Ever wonder why you get stronger after lifting weight even though your body looks, more or less, the same?  What’s changed? The answer is that your body has essentially learned a better way of moving weight. This is done through improving your motor muscle recruitment pattern, making you more able to ‘turn on’ more muscle motor units and it’s the main reason you get stronger after lifting. This improvement is transferred to every part of your life too. Suddenly every movement you make has become a smaller fraction of your total strength ability. Carrying the groceries up stairs is a small bit easier.  Completing a prescribed WOD gets faster (by a lot too). Lifting heavy is, as Cherie stated a couple days ago, “An essential link in the development of athletic performance.”

It’s hard to over state the last point. When every exercise of every workout you do has suddenly become easier in comparison, you can do them MUCH faster (and with less lactic acid buildup). Do yourself a favor next time you come into the gym, compare the fastest day’s times with that person’s CrossFit total or Olympic total.  The correlation isn’t random.  And, there are lots of other fun benefits too, such as, positive adaptation in your bones (stronger bones) and connective tissues (ligaments, tendons, etc). Women who lift weights often have improved femininity. Ever seen the chick with the hot ass? She deadlifts and squats. Lifting heavy also causes your body to continue to burn calories long after your workout, something not seen with traditional “cardio”.

We all come to Verve to be better functioning at life in general and Verve is about making that happen. Not all days are heavy or even have a heavy component but when they do, there’s a reason. For many of us, lifting heavy weight this last month a couple of times has been the best thing we’ve done for ourselves, even if we didn’t realize it or want to do it. 

The bottom line is this: lifting heavy weights promotes strength, NOT size and makes you MUCH more athletic.  You’re not going to become a freak and that toned look we all want is due to both strong muscles and low body fat. So next time somebody tells you “I just want to get toned”, tell them to lay off the cheese fries and pick up something heavy.


METRO DASH UPDATE (16 athletes and counting)

Carpool:From Verve at 7:30am (only if you want to, but post here so we don't leave you)
Wardrobe: New splash shirts
Bring: What ever you want, but know you have to carry it with you
After party: Robyn's house, 6:30pm, bring something to share. (Robyn post address in comments if you want it posted).
 

Comments

  1. I’ll carpool! Don’t leeeeaaaaavvvveeee meeeeeee!!

  2. Julian :

    Speaking of a ton of strength for size, Weighlifting World Championships are going on and Liao Hui set a new record in the 69kg class with a 358kg total. Here’s a long vid, but winning lifts start at 1:35 and 7:45.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGoBoXkzdhk

  3. kiley :

    I’ll carpool with you!!

  4. Dan Y :

    Cherie, I wouldn’t have quoted you if had made such a bland statement. what’s up with the change?

  5. CC :

    Because when reading it I started thinking about nutrition and gymnastics and realized I want everyone to have it all. Without weightlifting you will be a fraction of the athlete you could be without it, and that I believe.
    Here is the original quote:
    “the number one developer of athletic performance.” – CC

  6. Cueball :

    Dan you promised not to tell everyone of my dream of fake tans and speedos….

  7. Emmalee :

    I’m in for the car pool too!

  8. OK so hopefully there’ll be a guy’s medium splash shirt available for me to wear tomorrow :). I’ll be there with bells o n @ 7:30AM with my camelbak and healthy snackage to carry. We should probably have several maps between all of us eh? Must strategize.
    Btw, excellent post Dan!!! :)

  9. OH and Tanya is lookin’ awesome as usual!

  10. James :

    Dude. The New York Times would totally fire you for changing that quote, Cherie.

  11. Slaughter :

    Cherie you owe me a shirt btw 😀

  12. Blake :

    Count me in for the convoy. I’m bringing a full camel back as well

  13. Anna :

    Wish I could go to the dash! Boo Hoo, darn work! Yall have fun though!
    Another note, does anyone know any good home construction or remodeling companies they could refer? Alan and I need some professional advice/quote for repairing our foundation eeek….! Thanks.

  14. robyn :

    BBQ at Robyn’s
    5651 W 36th Pl
    From the gym go west past sheridan, turn left at first light Depew St, then first right onto 36th place, we are the 3rd house on the right.
    I will miss seeing the awesomeness that all you are going to show at the Dash, as i will be cleaning my house for the partido:) Have fun, hope to see you all after.
    Oh yeah and bring a chair, an appetizer to share, and something to drink if you want.

  15. Gerson :

    I’m in for the carpool.

  16. Joylyn :

    I’ll try to make it to the carpool, but will be coming from the firehouse in Mead…..I’ll let you know if I’m gonna meet you downtown.

  17. Sara W :

    I’ll be there for the carpool! :) Looking forward to an awesome adventure! I don’t have a camel back…so I hope you don’t mind sharing yours :)

  18. The boss said to: 185# :)

  19. jared :

    Uber-Awesome post. Thanks Danimal!

  20. CC :

    180#

  21. Matt :

    375#(pr), 390#X
    Can’t wait for the metro dash tomorrow, though I would like to do FGB.

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