by: Nick Lape
Anyone who knows me knows that I love to lift heavy weights. I have fought gravity and won many times. I have also fought gravity and lost just as many; probably twice as often as I have succeeded. If I didn't fail from time to time, I would get bored with lifting weights. Failure allows me to have something to compete with myself for. In my mind and even in the minds of some of my clients, not hitting a lift creates the excitement of, “How far can I push my body?” While heavy lifting should be done in moderation, there are some great benefits to testing your body and making it stronger.
First, there is a myth that lifting heavy weights is dangerous. And while true if done improperly, this belief only increases the fear of lifting heavy. Every time I lift heavy weights, I view it as practice. Put your body under that much stress and your body begins to learn how to move heavier loads, move properly and how to stabilize certain muscles/joints and mobilize others. When all of these things come together, you turn your body into a one-piece machine by connecting your brain with every muscle fiber. But if the brain and the body don’t work together, you put yourself at risk of injury. Now you can read everything above, but the biggest part to take away is the teaching. You are teaching your body how to take on an obstacle that requires the entirety of your body and mind to overcome.
Second, I want to reiterate how competitive lifting heavy weights can be. Both inter- and intra-personally. Being able to compete with yourself can set the bar so high, failure is no longer an option. It's always fun to watch the numbers on your lift card or program card go up. When it happens you begin to wonder what it might take in order to get to the next level. The adrenaline soars when you add a crowd, a weight lifting buddy, or simply someone you are quietly competing with from across the gym. It starts a fire; a fire that can't be extinguished easily by simply lifting alone. Lifting buddies can fuel both your motivational fire and competition.
Lastly, and probably most obvious is sheer strength. If you aren't challenging the body then there is a good chance you aren't getting stronger. When you aren't getting stronger, you aren't building lean muscle fibers and when you aren't building muscle fibers, you aren't revving up your metabolism to burn fat. Lifting heavy things can be the ultimate test of your strength. Now for some disclaimers:
LADIES, I will put this fear to rest: yes, some of you are genetically programmed to gain more muscle mass than others but it is scientifically impossible, without the help of anabolic boosters and an extremely high calorie diet, for you to get bulky. It cannot happen.
GENTLEMEN, if you desire big, attractive legs, arms, back, etc., and you are NOT lifting heavy weights, you are wasting your time in the gym. Physically, you cannot lift heavy everyday but if you aren’t lifting heavy at least 1…maybe 2 days a week, you will get stronger but you will never fill out a t-shirt in the right places.
For years I've lifted heavy weights. I have learned so much from training myself and others. That is exactly how you start heavy weightlifting. You learn. You teach. And you learn and teach some more. If you aren't challenging your body, how can you possibly make it better? You can't! Lifting heavy weights can be fun, competitive, and beneficial to your overall health. If someone says, “But it's dangerous,” reply with, “So is being weak.” Our bodies don't last forever. While we still have the ability, challenging it to do more ( in moderation) is the only way that we find our limits. It is the only way we can learn to set goals in the gym. It is the only way to guarantee that we have a strong healthy body for years to come. That is why we lift heavy things.
Do you want to experience the full benefits of strength training but aren’t sure where to start, intimidated or scared of injury? Nick is a phenomenal teacher and can help you experience the full benefits of lifting weights. Contact him at 314-FORWARD and find out what strength training can do to change your life!
It’s funny. As I look back over the last 18 years in the fitness industry it doesn’t seem like it should have gone that fast, but here we are. As I prepare to ramble on for the next few moments, I’ll hope you’ll indulge me as I look back on where I came from, where I’ve been and where I think I’m heading. It’s been fun and there is a whole lot of gas left in the tank.
I can’t be certain but I am pretty sure I started lifting weights to impress girls. Vanity, while shallow, has always been a big reason I worked out but it’s funny how the mind works in a kind, gracious way. I am still fairly vain but over the last few years I have become more concerned about cholesterol and blood sugar than body fat (although if you are keeping a low level of body fat there is a pretty darn good chance you’ll have decent cholesterol and blood sugar numbers).
And while longevity is important, I would rather feel good than look good at this stage in the game. Nutritionally, I have always stuck to the plan of eating clean Monday thru Friday then let loose on the weekends and within 5 pounds, I have maintained the same weight I was when I graduated college. Yet somewhere around age 36 I decided fruits, vegetables and water were good for me and son of a gun, my physique improved. I wonder how far I could have taken it if I ate as clean as I do now when I was in college, had the testosterone of an 18 year old and wasn’t drinking a 12-pack every Saturday night? We’ll never know but I will tell you that eating clean and healthy 85% of the time while indulging the other 15% is a great way to live and very liberating. I also supplement well using products from trusted companies such as Designs for Health and Wilderness Athlete; companies I market in my fitness businesses to my friends, family and clients. I have become a product of the product and it works.
I have learned that while sugar and fried foods do taste good, I feel terrible after consuming them and it simply isn’t worth the pain. I still indulge a little (see 15% above) but nothing like I used to do in my younger days. The same can be said for the lite beers as well. Again, I like feeling good so I avoid over consumption of foods a lot of folks are scarfing down on a daily basis. It works for me.
About ten years ago my focus switched from biceps and washboard abs and more to overall health and prevention. That epiphany coincided with the birth of my sons. I plan to be around to harass those two knuckle- butts until I am a very old and cranky man.
When I graduated Southeast Missouri State University in 1999 I was chock full of useful stats and statistics about health and fitness. I could recite the entire values standards for total cholesterol by heart and tell you exactly how many sets and reps you should be performing three days a week in order to build muscle. I could also calculate fancy metabolic equations that would tell you how many liters of oxygen you were consuming per minute of exercise along with the subsequent calorie burn estimation. This knowledge made me a very well informed trainer but not the best trainer I could be.
Truthfully, and for all of those who worked with me back then, my apologies, I don’t think I became a good trainer until age 35. It was about that time that I realized it was less about the programming and more about connecting with that person that helped them have a life-changing breakthrough. In the beginning I wanted to tell every client everything I knew in session #1. Time has taught me that slow change is always better than fast change. Fitness and nutrition should never be a “rip the band aid off fast” approach. Once I learned that, I started seeing clients improving more. Drastically improving.
Exercise and nutrition programming is important. Having the trust of a client who has bought into your philosophy because they like you and know you care is more important.
I enjoy building things. If someone asks my professional goal I reply to “be the Oprah of fitness.” It’s lofty but something I think about all the time. Between my role managing the BJC WellAware Center and running Integrated Wellness Concepts and Fit To Hunt, you would think I would be overwhelmed, but I am not. I am kind of ticked that I didn’t build these great things when I was 15 years younger and didn’t have kids yet but truthfully, I wasn’t ready to be an entrepreneur or manager. I do work hard with my team members to help mentor them so they don’t have to stumble and bumble like I did those first years in the work force. Who knows? I may call on them for a job one day? Besides, Richard Branson has his hand in hundreds of companies. Surely I can manage three businesses, right?
Do I really want to be the “Oprah of fitness?” I don’t think I need that title. In the end, if I can create something that helps people and perhaps a legacy in case my kids decide they want to hop into the family business, it will be all good. All I really need is about 500 acres….maybe in Montana with a trout stream running through it and a lot of elk to hunt. I don’t pretend that I am going to keep this grind going forever and ever. One day I’ll fade away to a ranch where I can hunt, fish, plant trees and do the things that make me happy with the people who make me happy. But that is a few years off.
There are 101 things I could have done differently. Hindsight is always 20/20. But, I have always figured God put me in the positions or situations I was in for a purpose. Perhaps to teach me a lesson or to be there for a person who needed my help? Either way, it made me the trainer and man I am today so there isn’t a much use in thinking about what might have been. I’m more excited to see what the next 40 years brings.
Contributions made by Fit2Hunt Staff!