How Lifting Changes Your Metabolism

Why do you lift weights? Is it for muscle tone? To gain strength? Be healthier? Lose weight? For fun? Are you a competitive lifter or a recreational?

Odds are, you lift weights for a variety of reasons, some of which may be those listed above. Lifting weights changes your body as we all know. You become leaner, stronger, toner, and healthier. These are the outward signs that you lift.

But have you ever thought about what happens on the inside as your lift weights? Your heart gets stronger, making it beat more efficiently. Your lungs work more efficiently. Your heart rate goes down, making for a healthier circulatory system. You sleep better. You are probably more efficient mentally as well.

Your metabolism is also affected by lifting weights. In today’s article, we’ll explore how lifting weights affects your metabolism.

WHAT IS YOUR METABOLISM?

Metabolism (/məˈtæbəlɪzəm/, from Greek: μεταβολή metabolē, “change”) is the breakdown of food through chemical reactions in your body that sustains your life functions. Metabolism refers to three processes: the conversion of food (or your fuel) into energy, the conversion of food into what builds your body, namely, protein, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids, and the elimination of waste by-products from this process. Metabolism is from the Greek word “metabole,” meaning change. Metabolism is what keeps you alive. Sure, the food you eat is the fuel, but without a way to use that fuel, you’d be dead.

WHAT ARE THE CLASSES OF METABOLISM?

In order to facilitate discussions, metabolism is further broken down into two categories:

  1. Catabolism — the breaking down of compounds
  2. Anabolism — the building up of compounds

Breaking down results in energy being released; building up results in energy being consumed.

For the purposes of this article, we will strictly be discussing metabolism and the effect exercise has on your metabolism. However, we needed a bit of background material in order to understand how this relates to diet and muscle growth as well.

Image result for muscle growth chart

METABOLISM AND EXERCISE

We’ve just established that your metabolism includes all the things your body does to turn food into energy and keep you going, while eliminating the substances your body cannot use — be this through waste products or through fat storage. Some people have a faster metabolism than others. Factors that influence metabolism are:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Genes
  • Thyroid condition
  • Exercise

If you’ll notice, there’s only one thing on this list we can control: exercise, the rest being out of our control.

So what does this mean for us? It means we need to exercise if we want to speed up our metabolism, burn more calories, and thus lose weight and get stronger.

The best way to speed up your metabolism is through muscle building. Muscle cells need a lot of energy to function at their optimal level, which means they burn a lot of calories. In fact, muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells, even when you’re not exercising. Translation: the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Another way to look at it is: the time you spend working out is multiplied many fold as your body reaps benefits long after you stop sweating.

HOW MUSCLES GROWImage result for muscle growth chart

After you workout, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process where it fuses muscle fibers together to form new muscle protein strands or myofibrils. These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number to create muscle hypertrophy (growth). However this process does not happen when you are actually lifting the weights. Instead, it occurs while you rest.

HOW DO YOU CAUSE MUSCLES TO GROW

Simple: you have to stress them. You have to push your body outside of its comfort zone (technically known as homeostasis or the tendency to stay the same). Otherwise, nothing will change. There are three ways to disrupt homeostasis and cause muscle growth:

  1. Muscle Tension. In order to produce muscle growth, you have to apply a load of stress greater than what your body or muscles are used to, and the main way to do this is to lift progressively heavier weights. This will cause changes in the chemistry of the muscle, activating the formation of new muscle strands.
  2. Muscle Damage. If you’ve ever felt sore after a workout, you have experienced muscle damage. The damaged muscle causes a release of inflammatory molecules and immune system cells that jump starts the repair process, resulting in more muscle being laid over the damaged muscle. You don’t have to feel sore for this to happen, but soreness is one indication your muscles are definitely not in their comfort zone!
  3. Metabolic Stress. If you’ve ever felt the burn of an exercise or had the “pump” in the gym, then you’ve felt the effects of metabolic stress. Scientists used to question this effect on your muscles when bodybuilders would say the “pump” caused their muscles to become larger. However, after studies were conducted, it was learned that metabolic stress does cause muscle cells to swell around the muscle, which helps to contribute to muscle growth without necessarily increasing the size of the muscle cells. The swelling is caused by glycogen, which not only swells the muscles but also the connective tissue surrounding the muscles.


HOW HORMONES AFFECT MUSCLE GROWTH


Hormones are another component largely responsible for muscle growth and repair, namely growth factors and testosterone.

Testosterone is the main hormone that most people think of when lifting weights and for good reason: testosterone increases protein synthesis, inhibits protein breakdown, activates satellite cells, and stimulates other anabolic hormones, which contribute to muscle growth. Strength training helps to release more testosterone and make the receptors of your muscle cells more sensitive to this testosterone. Furthermore, testosterone stimulates growth hormone responses by increasing the presence of neurotransmitters at the damaged fiber site, which can help to activate tissue growth.

Growth factors regulate help muscle mass growth by enhancing protein synthesis, facilitating glucose uptake, repartitioning the uptake of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) into skeletal muscles and activating satellite cells to increase muscle growth.

WHY MUSCLES GROW WHEN YOU’RE AT REST

 

As most of us know who lift weights, lifting weights alone will only get you so far in terms of muscle growth, which affects your goals such as weight loss. Your body needs adequate rest and nutrition to reek the benefits of your weightlifting regimen. Otherwise, you can actually reverse the anabolic process and put your body into a catabolic or destructive state.

The response of muscle protein metabolism to a resistance exercise session lasts for 24-48 hours; thus, the interaction between protein metabolism and any meals consumed in this period will determine the impact of the diet on muscle hypertrophy (a fancy word for growth). Keep in mind there is a certain limit on how much your muscles can actually grow dependent on gender, age, and genetics. For instance, men have more testosterone than women, which allows them to build bigger and stronger muscles.

 

HOW FAST DO MUSCLES GROW?

Muscle hypertrophy takes time. Huge muscle gains will not be seen overnight. In fact, muscle growth is relatively slow for the majority of us. Visible growth in your muscles won’t be seen for weeks or even months as initially changes are taking place in your nervous system first, which has to activate your muscle growth. Factor in the uncontrollables we talked about earlier, such as genetics and age, and muscle growth can be even slower. The amount of hormones your body releases, the type of muscle fibers you were born with, and cell activation of your muscles all play a factor in muscle growth and is different for all of us.

Remember muscle protein synthesis must be greater than muscle protein breakdown in order for muscle growth to occur. This requires an adequate consumption of protein (especially essential amino acids) and carbohydrates to help facilitate the cellular process of rebuilding broken down muscle tissue.

Building muscle takes time and seeing the results of your hard work is your reward. However, most of us are somewhat impatient, and those who are unsuccessful in meeting their muscle growth goals are those who quit because of what they deem “lack of results.”

You’re body is an amazing machine. But like a machine, it takes time to process change.

MUSCLE GROWTH AND METABOLISM

As we’ve seen, muscle growth can increase your metabolism, thereby making your overall goals much more attainable. If you want to lose weight, you lift heavy weights, which will increase your muscle mass, burning more calories in the process.

To be more specific, when you lift heavy weights, you increase your resting metabolism, which is just like it sounds: your metabolism while at rest. Let’s fact it: we spend the majority of our days in this resting metabolism state. You sleep, eat, watch TV, go to work, stare at a computer all day, or stand for portions of the day. Even if you have a fairly active job such as landscaping or oil field work, you still have a considerably amount of down time throughout your day — much more so than actually exercising.

Hence, we rely on our resting metabolism to get us to where we want to go, whether it be competitive powerlifting or bodybuilding, losing 20 pounds, getting rid of our beer bellies, or just being leaner and fitting into more of our clothes without a belt pinching our mid-section.

CrossFit babes deadlifting at CrossFit Competition
Deadlifting at CrossFit Competition

TIPS FOR INCREASING METABOLISM WITH WEIGHT TRAINING

  • Frequency. In order to increase your metabolism, grow muscle, and achieve your desired results, you’re going to have to lift weights frequently. Stronglifts Strength Training Program is designed to do three days a week.
  • Commitment. You need a plan with a logical progression that focuses on the basic lifts — which is Stronglifts defined. The back squat, deadlift, and bench press are  foundational moves (along with barbell row and overhead press) to work all of the muscles in your body. You increase the weight incrementally, incorporating rest and healthy eating, to maximize results.
  • Intelligence. The goal of weight training is to lift more over a period of time — not to lift too much, end up getting hurt, and then not see any results. If you overdo it, you could actually end up losing muscle, which can slow your metabolism. Stronglifts is a program that does all the work for you. It tells you what to lift, how much and when. It tells you what exercises to do. And it shows you proper form, so you won’t hurt yourself. Stronglifts is an all-inclusive weight lifting program.
  • Take care of yourself. As we’ve discussed, being healthy is a holistic approach: you have to choose wisely what you put in your body, choose wisely what strength program you do, and rest and recover. This will maximize results and keep you safe. And an added benefit — you are lifting for life. Overall, you’ll be healthier to do the things you enjoy doing such as mountain climbing or skiing.
  • Lifetime activity. Exercise becomes even more important as you get older. You naturally lose muscle mass with age, which slows down your metabolism. Lifting weights can help stop that slide, allow you to keep more of your muscle mass, and keep building muscle mass. As you age, you slow down and spend more time in the resting metabolic zone. This makes building muscle even more important because muscle uses more calories than fat, strengthening your muscles will make you into a more efficient calorie-burning machine for life.

THE LIFTING WEIGHTS CHOICE

Lifting weights has led thousands of people to amazing health and wellness. They have achieved the look they desire, and the health they’ve always wanted. They look great and feel great. They are more successful in all aspects of their lives because of their health. They have an active lifestyle, friends that support them, healthy relationships, a thriving career, and time and energy to do what makes their heart sing. Lifting weights has given thousands the ultimate freedom. Join them today!

Crossfit: How NOT to Cherry-Pick Workouts

Today’s CrossFit workout I wanted no part of. If you skip a CrossFit Workout that was programmed, it’s known as cherry-picking in the CrossFit world, meaning you only do the workouts you want to do and skip the ones that are hard or the ones you dont’ want to do. Today’s programmed CrossFit WOD was this:

3 rounds of:

hot crossfit chicks
Power Snatches in CrossFit
  • 10 power cleans
  • 10 front squats
  • 10 push jerks

1st round was 95 lb, 2nd round was 105 lb, 3rd round was 115 lb

Then we had a WOD that was this:

3 Rounds for Time:

  • 10 power snatches 80 lbs
  • 20 box jump overs
  • 30 wall balls

I haven’t lifted that much in push jerks since August. I knew that was going to be tough mentally for me more than physically. But I did it. Not happily (I’m glad it’s over), but I know I need to do this stuff to be stronger and to improve at CrossFit. Here are tips when faced with a workout, so you don’t cherry-pick it:

  1. Go at your own pace. Don’t worry about what others are doing around you. Remember this is your workout, so do it your way.
  2. Concentrate on good form. For weights that heavy for you (80% and up), good form is crucial to a) being able to do the work b) being able to lift heavier weights moving forward. Take that extra second to get set before you lift to ingrain muscle memory to these Olympic moves.
  3. It’s about the work. Take it one rep at a time if this is tough for you mentally. Just get the work done and finish.

In CrossFit, we all have the movements we love and those we hate. When faced with those you hate, don’t avoid them like you do your mother-in-law. Do them. You’ll be a stronger, more well-rounded athlete overall. And you may even find you like the moves once you get good at them.

Starting CrossFit Open Training Off Right

This morning I did Bert, a CrossFit Hero Workout named for U.S. Marine Cpl. Albert Gettings, 27, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, who died on Jan. 5, 2006, while conducting counter-sniper operations in Fallujah, Iraq. 

This one, like most CrossFit Hero workouts, is long. It’s:

  • 50 burpees
  • 400 m run
  • 100 push ups
  • 400 m run
  • 150 walking lunges
  • 400 m run
  • 200 air squats
  • 400 m run
  • 150 walking lunges
  • 400 m run
  • 100 push ups
  • 400 m run
  • 50 burpees

I finished in 1 hour and 6 min, including time to take my jacket and gloves on and off for the runs. Fun workout. All body weight exercises. Great cardio.

Preparing for CrossFit Open 2019

I’m trying to get motivated for the CrossFit Open. This was a good workout. I’m beginning to log my food again with My Fitness Pal. I’m hoping to get stronger and gain more skills. Really, I’m hoping to stay fit and healthy and be happy with how I look.

 

CrossFit Open Dates Announced for 2019

Image result for crossfit open 2019

The CrossFit Open officially kicks off February 21st, 2019.

This is the qualifier for the 2019 Games.

And I am not ready.

I don’t feel like I’m any more ready than last year.

Between injuries, surgeries, and frustrations, I just haven’t been caring much

I have 75 days to prepare.

Once I get my stitches out next week, I think I’ll be ready to hit it hard core.

But we’ll see.

It’s been tough mentally this year for me. I just haven’t cared all that much.

How I’ve Missed the Soreness CrossFit Brings

hot crossfit chicks flipping tires at CrossFit Competiton
Tire Flips CrossFit Competition

Today I got to work out for the first time after my surgery. It was glorious. To feel my heart race again and try and beat the clock. Magic!

For those of you who do CrossFit, you know you walk around in a state of perpetual soreness. Since I haven’t been working out, I haven’t had that. Today I got it back. I used to bemoan the fact I’m always sore. Then I accepted the fact I was always sore. Now, for the first time, I missed the soreness of CrossFit.

Today I got to work out for the first time after my surgery. It was glorious. To feel my heart race again and try to beat the clock. Magic!

CrossFit: How to Fill Sandbags

At my last competition, the Turkey Challenge, we had a WOD with sandbags. I fell in love — so much so I bought two sandbags from Brute Force for myself for Christmas. One I filled with 35 pounds and one with 62 pounds.

Filling sandbags is not as easy as it sounds. Here are the steps and methods I utilized:

crossfit chicks working out during crossfit competition with sandbags
Working out with Sandbags
  • Buy sand (play sand is recommended) from your local hardware store or superstore
  • Fill the filler bags accordingly. A less filled bag is more unstable and will tax your grip and balance more. We used a funnel and a measuring cup that had a pour spout. This enabled us to accurately fill the bags with the same amount of sand.
  • Use a scale. After filling the bags, we would weigh the bags on a scale to make sure they were equal.
  • These Brute Force bags come with military-grade velcro. Velcro the bags and place them in the outer shell bag, shaking to make even.
  • You’re ready to begin!

WHY TRAIN WITH SANDBAGS

Sandbag training is utilized for unstable load training which is the ability to unconventionally move or lift an odd object that is unstable or has an uneven load efficiently. This type of training provides a much more dynamic and challenging training experience. You must engage your body’s stabilizer muscles, building coordinated strength and balance throughout your entire body.

Unstable load training is definitely challenging, no doubt about it. And fun. Once I’m healed from my surgery, I can’t wait to get started!

Exercising After Surgery

Exercise after surgery is a delicate balance. You don’t want to strain yourself, but you want to get back in the game. Here are some tips to find that balance after surgery:

Tips for Returning to Exercising after Surgery

  • Listen to your body. You’ll know when you’re ready or not, and if you feel you’re Image result for exercise after surgerydoing too much, stop. Exercise can slow the healing process, so be cognizant of your “push” level.
  • Take it slow. Return to easy workouts for the first few days with some low-grade cardio and moderate strength training. You’ll want to ease yourself back in the game.
  • Proceed with an abundance of caution. If your doctor says you’re good to go, add in an extra day or two. There’s no rush. Your workouts will still be there in a few extra days.
  • Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Don’t go run a 5k the day after you’re cleared. Run a mile instead.

It was so good to feel my heart rate elevated again. I didn’t realize how much I had missed it. I waited an extra day before I worked out. Then I only did mild cardio and my squat program. I’m taking tomorrow off and will return to a real workout on Monday.

I should be cleared on December 11th, so until then I will be cautious. Listen to your doctor. Listen to your body. Soon enough, you’ll be back!