I’ve written elsewhere on this blog about the physical and mental benefits of weight lifting, so just a quick recap.
If you lift weights regularly, you will see progress. Like me, you’ll probably become curious about just how much weight you can lift.
If you lift weights regularly, you’ll find all sorts of everyday tasks so much easier to do. Opening jars becomes easier. Moving furniture becomes easier. Carrying shopping becomes easier. Even walking becomes easier.
If you lift weights regularly, you’ll become stronger and more confident. Your posture will be better. You’ll become more toned. Your bones will be stronger. You’ll be less likely to fall. If you do fall, you’ll be less likely to break bones. You’ll have more joy in life.
These are well known benefits that lots of people talk about and experience.
Yet one of the big benefits for me is not often mentioned, so I want to write about it here.
Sometimes I can lift weights and talk at the same time, but often I need to concentrate hard. This is particularly true with big, compound moves like deadlifting and squatting. Dead lifting involves lifting a heavy load ( a bar with metal plates of various weights) off the ground and standing up with it.
There is a moment of pure concentration when I’m lifting weights that are heavy (for me). In that moment I can’t think about anything else. All my mental energy is focussed on my physical body.
I need to do this because I want to make sure I have good form. Good form means that you are doing the exercise correctly. You are using the correct muscles for that exercise. It means being aware of how your ankles, knees and pelvis are aligned. It involves being aware of what your back and shoulders are doing. It means not using momentum to swing the weights or leaning back inappropriately.
It’s a lot to think about! In that moment I can’t think of anything else. My life become crystallised in this one simple moment. I naturally have a busy brain. I don’t understand it when people say that they are not thinking about anything! I’m usually juggling lots of different things in my head. Writing a newsletter for my business. What I want to post on Instagram. Phone calls I need to make. Emails I need to read. Housework that’s waiting for me.
But when I’m lifting heavy weights, none of that matters. The only thing that matters is the weight and me. Everything else falls away. I hesitate to use the word, but it IS a sublime moment. A moment of simplicity in the everyday bustle and hassle of normal life.
My brain is totally absorbed and focussed on interacting with my body – receiving input from the nervous system and responding appropriately. These are truly magical moments of complete will power and intent. My body responding to my brain, and my brain responding to my body.
There is the joy when I set a new PB (personal best), but the moments before that are when the true magic happens.
Of course, it doesn’t happen all the time I’m in the gym. That would be exhausting. It happens when I’m close to the limits of my ability to lift. My whole body and mind is geared to that limit. Trust me – it’s truly a magical moment.