Last night, I saw the Arnold documentary on Netflix and instantly got hooked— I finished all episodes in one sitting. It was so motivational, I started working out like I’m in my ’20s again. Hence, I’m resharing this post, which I originally published in 2019.
When I was sixteen, I weighed a miserable 105 pounds. Pathetic, considering I was creeping closer to my adult height of five feet and eight inches. And this was in the Philippines, where most people are skinny— yet I still got bullied.
Then one day, I saw this movie poster of Arnold Schwarzenegger, holding a machine gun and ready to blast aliens.
His “guns” were more intimidating than his gun— they were literally bigger than his head!
The iron bug immediately hit me. Right there and then, I decided I want to look like him.
I told myself, “If only my arms could look like that, maybe the bullies would leave me alone.”
Pretty soon, I found myself reading books and magazines about bodybuilding. I devoured every issue of Muscle & Fitness from cover to cover.
I joined the local gym, started pumping iron, ate more nutritious food high in calories and protein, and stopped eating junk food altogether. Eventually, I got into the gym business myself (more on this in a future blog post).
In several years, I went from a scrawny kid who looked like a refugee from a concentration camp to a brawny young man with 17″ arms, ready to beat the crap of that bully who tried to steal my calculator and used my homework as a break dancing mat in high school.
Except these photos were taken a decade apart— high school was a distant memory. The bully has long been gone, and I’ve completely buried the hatchet.
Sure, even at my best, I was light-years away from looking like Arnold. I never experienced the satisfaction of beating up a bully, either. But just the same, I give credit to bodybuilding, for giving me the confidence to achieve big goals, the ability to withstand pressure, and more importantly, my present-day excellent health condition (knock on wood).
Of course, not everyone wants to lift weights, let alone look like Arnold, especially if you happen to be a woman. I’d like to stress, however, that the benefits of weight training go far beyond vanity and aesthetics. It isn’t just about bulking up and building muscle mass. It can prevent osteoporosis, which is very common in middle-aged women, for example!
Here are the top reasons why I think developing your muscles is one of the best investments that you can make.
As obvious as it may seem, proper resistance training results in increased muscle strength, power, endurance, and size. You will be able to do everyday tasks like lifting, carrying, and walking up the stairs with greater ease.
Ever since I’ve become stronger, I’ve found that mundane tasks like opening a tight jar or changing a tire, are also becoming easier, for example.
By working the muscles through a full range of motion, weight training can improve your overall body flexibility. Increased flexibility reduces the risk of muscle pulls and back pain.
And let’s face it. Being able to wipe your behind for as long as possible is a reasonable goal in old age for everyone.
Less prone to injuries
Strong muscles, tendons, and ligaments are less likely to give way under stress and are less likely to be injured. Increased bone density and strength reduces back and knee pain by building muscle around these areas.
Weight training can help protect your bones and prevent osteoporosis-related fractures. Especially beneficial for women who are more prone to losing bone mass in old age.
Boost metabolism and fat loss
I’ve been asked at work, “How come you eat a lot and don’t get fat?”
The answer is simple. Muscle burns more calories than fat— even at rest. When people incorporate strength training into their exercise routine, they not only burn calories but increase lean muscle mass, which stimulates the metabolism.
You’re less likely to develop visceral fat, which can actively increase your risk of serious health problems.
Stave off diseases
The stronger you are, the more resilient you are against disease and your overall risk for mortality. Studies also show that regular resistance training can slow the progression of chronic diseases and reduce the impact and severity of the symptoms experienced.
Strength training also improves the muscle’s ability to take in and use glucose or blood sugar. I believe weight training helped me dodge Type 2 diabetes— a disease my late mom suffered. Two of my brothers who never touched dumbells weren’t as lucky.
Improve mental health
It’s a known fact that exercise releases endorphins— hormones responsible for an increase in feelings of well being, protection against mental illness, and induced feelings of relaxation.
Your brain needs to be challenged, just like your muscles need exercise to stay strong. Bodybuilding challenges your brain like no other form of exercise— especially when you’re under that 300 lbs. squat bar!
Lastly, bodybuilding teaches discipline, concentration, and focus— traits learned in the gym and can be applied to all aspects of your life.