By Leo Charlebois
Everyone at some point in their life wonders what they can do to better their body, and the answer is: fitness. The not-so-simple answer is the gym. When done properly, lifting, along with cardio, can transform your body into a well-managed machine. It’s not just for massive bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger–the gym is for the physical improvement of a wide variety of people of all different shapes and sizes.
Many students have a peculiar hatred of the weight room, however: “I have not lifted my whole life and don’t feel like starting now, I don’t feel like big muscles are that important so I’m not going to bother,” said Josh Rodriguez.
However, despite popular belief, simply showing up to the gym won’t make you any stronger, faster or skinnier. You need to gain knowledge of the exercises needed to strengthen specific parts of the body along with the correct form to execute the lifts effectively to avoid injury.
Using improper form is not only going to take away from your muscle growth and make you look stupid, it is also dangerous. One common mistake made by newbies is to do deadlifts, where you pick up a resting weight, and put all the weight on their back instead of their legs. This is due to squatting with an arched back or leaning over your knees. This can lead to pulled muscles or even more severe spinal injuries.
“There’s nothing more annoying than when some guy who thinks he’s big struts into my gym and starts jerking his back all over the place doing a set of rows,” said Will Bradley, an avid gym-goer at NAHS’s weight room.
Many other students also realize the importance of proper form. “I hurt my back deadlifting once. I have fixed my form since and gotten plenty of gains in the weight room,” said senior John Larkin.
“I always use proper form when deadlifting a ridiculous amount of weight. It’s healthier and also gives the little guys something to shoot for,” said Will Bradley.
Along with providing many physical benefits, weight lifting also has mental benefits as well. Studies at Stanford University show that working out releases endorphins with gives a person a sense of euphoria and happiness. It also has shown to decrease depression. A large factor in liftings ability to decrease depression has to do with the improvements it causes in your body and results in improved self image, said a study conducted at Stanford University. Depression has been a growing epidemic among today’s culture. Many medicines have come out to help fight this; however, exercise is guaranteed to only have positive side effects and is preferred to addictive medication.
“I have always been a relatively happy kid, however the ripped body I got from lifting has drastically improved my mental state,” said Will Bradley.
When getting into lifting, it is recommended to do certain muscle groups each day for nice even gains. Also, make sure not to skip leg day. An example of common muscle groups to exercise together would be a leg day, then chest triceps and biceps, the shoulders, traps and back.
Good leg exercises are squats, leg extensions, box jumps and leg presses. For chest exercises, there is the bench press. Triceps can be done by doing pull downs. A great exercise to work your shoulders and biceps are military presses. These are just some examples of specific exercises. It’s important to try a wide variety of exercises and pick the one that fits your personal goals the best. You can find thousands of different exercises from simple internet searches.
Eating right is also extremely important to maximize your results from weight training. A balanced diet with nutrition to replenish strained muscles is essential. “I usually slam down a large protein shake with a meal consisting of steak and like a banana, or some other fruit or vegetable,” said Will Bradley.
Overall lifting properly could substantially benefit almost anyone and should be experienced by everyone. Its benefits for your mental and physical states will last a long time and result in exponential life improvement.