Curious about the benefits of heavy weight lifting? You're not alone! Most people who work to stay active incorporate some form of strength training.
After all, it's great for your overall health, especially as you age. However, heavy weight lifting is a specific form of strength training and is often underutilized by cyclists.
This is a shame, as heavy weight lifting provides some unique benefits that cycling alone just can't match. In this article, we'll cover 12 of the most compelling benefits of heavy weight lifting for cyclists.
Benefits of Heavy Weight Lifting
Before we talk about how lifting heavy benefits cyclists, let's get clear on the benefits of heavy weight lifting for everyone.
1.) Increase strength
The first and most obvious benefit of heavy weight lifting is that it will help you grow stronger. Lifting weights heavier than what you're used to forces your body to adapt by increasing muscle fiber size and density.
2.) Increase your metabolism
Another benefit of strength training with heavier weights is that it can boost your metabolism. One study noted that a heavy-resistance strength training program helped increase the resting metabolic rate even in older athletes.
It works because strength training increases how much lean muscle you have on your body. Lean muscle is metabolically more active than fat. So even at rest, your body will burn more calories.
3.) Improve your overall health
Getting stronger is all well and good, but an important benefit of heavy weight lifting that becomes more important as we age is how it impacts our overall health. Lifting heavy weights improves your overall fitness and can help lower the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
A study done in 2018, notes that "Resistance training has been shown to increase muscle mass, reduce BMI, improve insulin sensitivity, and increase glucose transport." All of which can help reduce your risk of serious illness and complications.
4.) Reduce your biological age
Something else to consider as we age is how heavy weight lifting can help reduce our biological age. As we get older, our bodies start to break down more quickly and become less capable of performing everyday tasks.
However, lifting heavy weights has been shown to help reduce the effects of aging by providing a dose of hormetic stress that causes the body to adapt and become stronger.
5.) Improve your cognitive function
Another benefit of heavy weight lifting that most people don't realize is that it can also help with your brain function. This includes helping protect areas of the brain vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease.
A 12-month study done by the University of Sydney found that "strength training led to overall benefits to cognitive performance, benefits linked to protection from degeneration in specific subregions of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a complex structure in the brain with a major role in learning and memory. "
Some participants even saw benefits to their cognitive function for up to a year after they stopped training.
6.) Improve your mood
The last general benefit of heavy weight lifting is an improvement in your mood. This is because lifting weights causes your body to produce endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel happy.
The effects of endorphins can last long after your strength training session ends, helping you stay in a good mood. They also help to reduce anxiety and ease depression.
The mental health benefits make it that much easier to not only get through your day-to-day life but also get up and push during your next training session.
Benefits of Weight Lifting for Cyclists
As you can see, heavy weight lifting has a number of benefits that go beyond just getting stronger. Now let's look at how cyclists specifically can benefit from this type of strength training.
7.) Prevent injuries
One of the most crucial benefits of weightlifting for cyclists is that it can help prevent injuries. Weight training can help to correct any muscle weaknesses or balances in your body.
Because cycling requires long hours on the bike and very repetitive motions, it's easy to develop motor imbalances and muscular deficiencies. This can eventually lead to overuse injuries if left unchecked.
But by incorporating a regular strength training program alongside their cycling, cyclists can prevent these common issues.
8.) Strengthen bones
Another way that heavy weight lifting protects cyclists from injury is by helping strengthen their bones. Because cycling is a low-impact sport, many cyclists are at risk of losing bone density, especially as they age.
Heavy weight lifting helps to load the bones and stimulate them to adapt and strengthen. This helps keep cyclists healthy and reduces their risk of fractures or other bone-related injuries.
9.) Improved endurance
Another benefit of weight lifting is that it helps to improve cycling endurance. Heavy weight lifting helps make you stronger.
The stronger your legs are, the more force they will be able to put into pedaling with less effort. Therefore, the longer and farther you'll be able to ride as you get stronger.
In addition, weight lifting can also help improve your aerobic capacity. This means you'll be able to handle longer rides with fewer rest stops.
10.) Better cycling efficiency
Similar to how weight lifting improves endurance, it also improves your cycling efficiency on the bike. Being able to produce more power with less effort can help you ride faster and also reduce your risk of fatigue.
Being efficient on the bike not only helps you go faster but can also help conserve energy, which is essential for longer rides.
11.) More power
Another nice benefit of weight lifting for cyclists is that it increases your power on the bike. It's similar to how it improves your endurance and cycling efficiency.
When your legs are stronger, they can create more force as you pedal. That greater force can help you ride faster for longer and also help you maintain your speed when climbing hills and other inclines.
12.) Increase strength without getting bigger
The last benefit of weight lifting for cyclists is that it helps them become stronger without worrying about gaining too much extra muscle mass. Cyclists are often focused on balancing a good weight-to-power ratio.
If you become too heavy, it can slow down your speed and make it harder to climb hills. With heavy weight lifting, you can get stronger without putting on too much extra muscle mass.
According to a 2016 study, this works because heavy load training done with a low number of reps builds strength while moderate load training done with higher reps actually builds bigger muscles.
Lifting heavy weights will keep your speed and power up without adding unnecessary mass to your frame.
Tips for Heavy Weight Lifting
Now that we've covered the benefits of heavy weight lifting for cyclists, and everyone else, let's cover a few tips for how to do it safely and get the best results.
Warm up and cool down
Make sure you warm up and cool down with every training session. A warm-up helps to get your muscles loose and ready for the workout. A cool down helps to gently stretch out any tight or sore muscles.
Make sure that you stay hydrated before and after your workout. Drinking enough water and replenishing any electrolytes lost from sweating will help make sure your muscles are working correctly and will also help you recover faster.
Focus on proper technique
While lifting any weights, but especially heavy weights, make sure you're using the proper technique. Having good form is essential for preventing injury and making sure you're getting the most out of your workouts.
If you're ever unsure about how to execute an exercise, make sure to ask a trainer or other fitness professional. Taking the time to learn proper technique will pay off in the long run with increased strength and fewer injuries.
Check your breathing
While lifting, also make sure to focus on your breathing. Holding your breath or breathing incorrectly can lead to dizziness or even fainting.
Always make sure to exhale during the effort portion of any exercise and inhale while returning to the starting position. Your breath should be steady and consistent throughout each set.
Know your limits
The last tip for heavy weight lifting is to make sure you know your limits. Being too enthusiastic and doing too much too fast can lead to injury.
Make sure you increase your weights and reps slowly over time and only lift what you can handle safely. Knowing your limits will help you stay safe while still achieving great results with your weight-lifting routine.
FAQs About Heavy Weight Lifting
Still have some questions about the benefits of heavy weight lifting? Here are some answers to commonly asked questions.
What are the negative effects of heavy weight lifting?
We've talked a lot about the benefits of heavy weight lifting, but if not done correctly, there can be some downsides too. Here are a few negative effects of heavy weight lifting:
- Strained muscles – When done incorrectly, heavy weight lifting can strain the muscles and even lead to muscle tears in some cases.
- Joint pain – It's important to lift with proper form or else you could put too much strain on your joints which can cause chronic pain.
- Injury – If you lift too quickly or with improper form, you could cause a serious injury.
Overall, heavy weight lifting is beneficial when done safely and correctly.
Does heavy lifting make you gain weight?
Actually, heavy lifting can help you lose weight. Because it increases muscle mass, your body will burn more calories at rest and can help you achieve a healthy body fat percentage.
Lifting moderate weights with a higher volume will increase your muscle mass which does have the potential to add a few pounds to your weight. However, while it may add a few pounds of muscle you'll also be burning more fat which will help you look leaner and slimmer overall.
Is heavy lifting healthy?
Yes, heavy lifting is a healthy activity to engage in. As long as it's done correctly and safely, it can offer numerous benefits such as increased strength, improved physical performance, and even help with weight loss.
What happens when you lift weights too heavy?
Lifting weights too heavy can lead to straining and even tearing of the muscles, joint pain, and injury. It's important to increase your weight gradually and make sure you're using the proper form when lifting.
In addition, if you ever feel any pain or discomfort while lifting, it’s important to back off and take a break. Taking the time to learn proper form and technique will help you avoid these risks and make sure you’re staying safe while still getting great results from your workouts.
Should you lift heavy every day?
It’s important to give your body time to rest and recover in between workouts so it’s best not to lift the same muscle groups every day. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 2-4 days a week of heavy lifting with some lighter days in between.
Is heavy lifting good for weight loss?
Yes, heavy lifting is a great way to burn calories and lose weight. By increasing your muscle mass you’ll be burning more calories even when you’re not working out. You can also combine your lifting routine with regular cardio exercises for an even bigger impact on your weight loss goals.
How often should you strength train?
The Mayo Clinic recommends strength training at least two days a week for optimal results. It’s important to give your body time to rest and recover in between workouts so it’s best not to lift the same muscle groups every day.
How many reps should you do for heavy lifting?
The number of reps you do will depend on your desired outcome. If you’re looking to build muscle, aim for 8-12 repetitions per set and if you’re looking to increase strength then 5-8 repetitions should be enough.
Conclusion to 12 Benefits of Heavy Weight Lifting for Cyclists
Heavy weight lifting offers many benefits for cyclists, such as increased strength, improved physical performance, and even help with weight loss. It's important to lift with proper form and give your body time to rest and recover in between workouts.
With some dedication and the right technique, you'll be able to reap the rewards of heavy weightlifting!