It is unfortunate, but true, that many people do not have a genuine understanding of the value of weight training as an important and effective part of any weight loss or fitness program.

This is due, at least in part, to a public misunderstanding of three terms:

Weightlifting

Body-building

Weight training or weight lifting

Start talking about barbells, dumbbells, and “weightlifting” with most people, and they often begin to imagine hulking figures they’ve seen on magazine covers or portraying monsters in movies…although “command” appeals to some men. While most men would like to have a good physique, pictures in magazines tend to throw them off, or at least portray an image of someone obsessed with “bulking up” and “getting defined.”

Women especially tend to reject the idea of ​​”lifting weights” in part because they fear that they, too, will look a bit like the men mentioned above. They may also have seen photos of professional bodybuilders or weightlifters. Many women, while wanting to lose weight and get fit, like to feel “feminine” and that any type of weight training will make them look like these professional athletes.

As in many discussions, a part of these fears is the result of simple ignorance. I also don’t mean “ignorance” in any derogatory way. I am equally “ignorant” of nuclear physics and embroidery simply because I have never had reason to study them. However, if I were to start looking for a hobby or a new career, I might avoid nuclear physics because it seems too hard, and sewing because…well…you know…it’s for girls, and I’m a guy! boy!

However, if you did some digging, you might find that Rosie Greer, once an NFL lineman, was well known for her embroidery and NOBODY dared tell Rosie Greer that she was less of a man for her hobby. In fact, having this information, and knowing that many people find embroidery relaxing, might make me appreciate embroidery a little more and consider it a hobby!

Well, let’s do it with all this weightlifting confusion.

First of all, let’s say you train with weights; Lifting weights, using resistance training, using free weights, weight machines, or resistance machines like Bowflex, can be quite effective in any fitness or weight loss program.

Second, don’t worry about how you’ll look if you choose to “lift weights.” While the end result will be determined to some degree by genetics and personal hormone levels, most weight training, if done correctly, will simply result in a strong, toned, healthy body that exudes confidence and self-assurance . women will end up looking “feminine” and men will end up looking “masculine”.

Those people you see in magazines have chosen to train a certain way at certain levels of intensity, and have opted for a dietary and supplement regimen that will only be followed by those who WANT to end up looking that way. They are athletes who train for specific purposes, and you won’t end up looking or acting like them in the same way that you won’t be able to ride a bike like Lance Armstrong simply because you bike for your health and fitness on a regular basis.

So what ARE the differences in all those terms we started with?

Well, by now I hope I have dispelled some of your uncertainty about the images you’ve been carrying around in your head that influenced your decision to use or not use weights to improve your health and body. However, since confusion about the differences can still lead you to make the wrong decisions in your training program, here are the basics.

1. Weightlifting – This may include weightlifting, bodybuilding, and/or weight training. By the way, when I use the term “weight training,” I’m going to include just about any type of resistance training. With free weights (mainly barbells and dumbbells) and “weight machines” the resistance is gravity. However, some machines provide resistance using springs, steel rods (Bowflex), or even your own body weight (Total Gym).

Bodybuilders, powerlifters, professional athletes, high school football players, golfers, gymnasts, and people who just want to get in shape or lose weight can lift weights as part of their overall training program. This is simply “weight training”. The best thing about lifting weights is that the number of possible exercises is large, the types of exercises are varied and the training program can be easily adapted to the abilities, needs and goals of the individual simply by varying the exercise, the weight used for each exercise , the number of repetitions performed for each exercise and the number of groups of repetitions (sets) performed. At 180 pounds, the male tennis player can select a series of exercises, weights, reps and sets; while a 110-pound housewife can select another.

2. Weightlifting is actually an athletic event made up of certain specific lifts. When researching weightlifting, you may also come across references to powerlifting. The three basic lifts in competitive weightlifting are the clean and jerk, the snatch, and the clean and press, although the clean and press was phased out of Olympic competition in the early 1970s. Three basic powerlifting lifts are the “squat”, the “bench press” and the “deadlift”. In powerlifting, style and technique are important, whereas in powerlifting, the concentration is almost entirely on the weight being moved. Powerlifting movements are shorter and less coordinated than deadlifts, but they require more…uh…power.

Since many weight-training athletes want or need strength and/or power for their sport, these types of training techniques are often incorporated into their training program. However, this type of training tends to “bulk up” the athlete, as the muscle is developed large enough to perform the specific task required.

Most people who train for health, fitness, or weight loss will have little or no need to engage in powerlifting or powerlifting techniques. However, they will use many of the same or similar exercises and training techniques, although the weights used will typically be lower and the exercise routine will be much less intense.

3. Bodybuilding, while not strictly an athletic event in the sense normally found in sports or even weightlifting, is ultimately a competition for which the athlete trains.

The bodybuilder primarily uses weight training to produce a body appearance that conforms to certain standards. These may be the person’s own standards or they may be the standards required to participate in bodybuilding competitions. The bodybuilder focuses less on physical strength and power than on achieving a sculpted physique. However, he is not fooled; the bodybuilder trains hard and training normally results in huge gains in strength and power. In recent years, more attention has been paid to volume and definition, that is, how individual muscles and muscle groups are highlighted as if it were an anatomical chart. Compare bodybuilders of several years ago, such as Steve Reeves (Hercules), with Darrem Charles, and the differences will emerge with modern bodybuilders seeking more muscle mass and greater definition.

Again, though, while the average person who chooses to use weight training as part of their fitness or weight loss program will likely have a workout somewhat more akin to that of a bodybuilder than a powerlifter, it won’t be necessary train at the intensity of neither. The results, as noted above, will be more within what most people would consider an acceptable appearance.

As noted, you do NOT need to train anywhere near the intensity and dedication of the true powerlifter or bodybuilder, or even the professional or semi-professional athlete. To achieve highly satisfying results in appearance, fitness, health, self-esteem, and self-confidence by adding weight training to your fitness program, a short 20-40 minute workout three times a week will suffice.

An actual weight training program for beginners is too much to add to this article at this point, but simple weight training programs are easily found in many books at your local library or bookstore. Just remember to keep it simple. Start easy and build slowly. As one of my coaches used to say, the goal is to “train, not strain.”

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