We are designed to lift heavy weights as a part of living healthily. If you think back to how our ancestors would have lived pre 1950s, pushing, pulling, lifting and moving heavy things would have been integral to our daily lives. When performed for short spells (NOT ALL DAY LONG) our bodies became stronger and more dynamic in a greater variety of ways.
As a result, on the occasion when a basket of logs or the lifting of a child or the pushing of a heavy wheelbarrow was required, our bodies were ready and prepared. Being ready and prepared markedly reduces the amount of harm applied to our bodies through the strain and stress of these activities.
Fast forward to present day and our bodies have mutated into the supposed comfort of the seated position and most of our movements are two dimensional i.e. our arms and legs predominately moving forwards and backwards, with the generally VERY infrequent sideways or rotational directions thrown in.
I am not advocating you all rush off to a gym to pump iron (although you can if this is appealing). You can use daily objects at work or at home; boxes or containers, piles of books, bricks, logs and pots. They all count when lifted for a few repetitions BUT ONLY to the point of fatigue (NOT exhaustion or to the point of feeling ill) and performed once or twice a week. If an object feels fairly light with two hands try lifting it with one. Some saucepans and water jugs can be really heavy in one hand.
HOWEVER! IT HAS TO BE APPROPRIATE TO YOU and YOUR physical ability and of course SAFE with respect to ANY PAST OR EXISTING health issues. What is overly heavy and potentially harmful to one person may be easy and effortless to someone else. The weight therefore has to feel heavy TO YOU and to you alone and needs to feel within your own body’s capacity to cope.
For the weight to be right for you, you need to be tolerably fatigued in the muscles you have used BUT without pain, dizziness or a sense of strain anywhere in your body OR a feeling of vulnerability in any of your muscles and joints.
So what is the best weight to start with if you are unused to lifting heavy weights? I would suggest a weight that feels moderately easy, something that is familiar to you but opt to lift it more times than you might normally. The aim is feel comfortably fatigued by the end of the repetitions. It can take a bit of trial and error to work out what weight is right for you.
Make sure what you are lifting is not low down or awkward and avoids involving ANY twist or strain of your spine. Keep your shoulders, hips and feet all in line with each other from start to finish for each lift. Better to start with a lighter weight and build up as your familiarity, strength, confidence and ability improve, than using a weight that is too heavy and causes harm. As your ability increases you are aiming to safely lift a weight after which, after 3-4 repetitions, you feel significantly but tolerably fatigued. If you are unsure of any of the above please get in touch with me.
It’s always best to err on the side of caution to begin with but nonetheless this can be an invaluable part of investing in your health.