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By Jamillia Greene

Don’t wait until Summer to get your body in shape! Fall and winter are great times to start weightlifting.

Muscles need fuel to grow, so the caloric increase in your diet brought on by cold weather and the holidays will aid your muscle growth and recovery.

Through weightlifting, you are using those additional calories to grow your muscles instead of growing fat. That additional muscle you build will then burn even more fat over time and will allow you to have that additional slice of sweet potato pie during Thanksgiving (or even after).

Also, beach bodies are built in September, not in May. You need time to build the curves—also known as muscles—you want for a sexy figure, and then time to lose any additional fat you’ve put on during the winter.

I started weightlifting about five years ago, but have taken it more seriously over the last couple of years.

Weightlifting has given me more confidence and it’s easier to get through my day to day life both physically and mentally.

Even though I am still on my fitness journey, weightlifting and changing my diet has transformed my body towards a physique that I want.

Weightlifting is an essential physical activity that everyone should be doing. It increases your quality of life by making you more physically fit and making everyday activities—like getting up from a chair or just standing—easier. It will also give you a solid base to stay in good health as you age so you can stay active and healthy throughout your lifetime.

I personally believe African Americans would especially benefit from weightlifting.

Many black people struggle with excess fat as we generally put on fat more easily than people of other ethnicities. I believe a sedentary lifestyle and diet, particularly the American diet, are primarily to blame for this.

The American diet is mostly based on Western European eating habits. I think this is particularly bad for people of African descent since our genetics didn’t adapt for this.

An example of this is the excess use of milk in the American diet. Most African Americans are lactose intolerant or prone to lactose intolerance. Most other people in the world drink goat’s milk, which contains less lactose than cow’s milk. Europeans are the only people that regularly drink cow’s milk, yet milk is the base for many dishes in the US.

That can’t be good for our systems.

Black bodies have been held to European standards for a couple centuries now, which is racist, ignorant, and inaccurate.

Many people of African descent (not all of course) have denser body types which include more muscle, more fat, and a slightly slower resting metabolic rate (metabolism) than other ethnicities.

This isn’t a bad thing, because it means you need fewer resources to survive. And in this case,resources refers to food.

The less food you need to eat means you can spend less money on groceries or use your money to buy higher quality, more nutrient dense foods at lower quantities than junk food.

How does this relate to black people weightlifting? Muscle burns fat. The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn.

Many African Americans can grow muscle relatively easily, especially if you have a larger build.

Through weightlifting, you can build more muscle which will then in turn burn more fat.

If you are someone who is overweight, you probably have quite a bit of muscle already under your fat, because it takes muscle to carry weight around. A great way to start is with bodyweight resistance (weight training) exercises, because just by moving around you will build muscle and burn fat.

I’m avoiding using the term “weight loss,” because it is inaccurate and a misnomer and is often used to attack black bodies.

Like I said previously, many black people tend to have heavier bodies and this is totally ok.

A person of European descent may weigh less than a person of African descent, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that one is healthier than the other. What you want to focus on is your body composition.

BMI (Body Mass Index) isn’t an accurate indication of your health, because it only measures your weight and not your body’s composition.

By BMI standards, most bodybuilders would be considered overweight even though they are incredibly lean (have very low body fat).

What you want to do is figure out your body fat percentage.

If your body fat percentage is too high, focus on lowering that with weightlifting and diet.

Often times I am in the gym and I look at some of the (mostly European) bodies around me.

They look smaller or skinnier than me sometimes, but then I have to remind myself that I’m not supposed to look like them. I want to look like my own best self which may end up being bigger or thicker or heavier.

While weightlifting, don’t shy away from the heavier weights. This is especially true for women.

If you pick up a weight and it doesn’t feel somewhat heavy, that weight is too light and you won’t get the results you want. You won’t get “bulky” from lifting weights unless you want to.

Having very large muscles, especially for women, requires more time and effort than the average person wants to put in, so it’s not something to worry about.

For most people, your muscles will get a little bigger and firmer and this will create or accentuate the curves you want or already have.

Muscle gives your body shape, and fat does not.

You can tailor your workouts to create the size and, to some extent, the shape you want for you body. So don’t be afraid of weights that are over 20lbs because that’s how you strengthen yourself and your body.

There are many resources available to start on your weightlifting journey.

The book I started with is “The New Rules of Lifting for Women”, by Lou Schuler. A good online beginners program is Stronglifts 5×5. Another great website, especially for the geekily inclined, is Nerd Fitness. There are many great articles on there for beginners about weight training, diet, and body composition.

Also, there are many personal trainers on Youtube and Instagram that regularly put out free content and advice. They are also available for hire if you want a personalized training program.

I️ suggest finding a trainer with a physique and philosophy that fits you, because you want to be motivated by them and trust and believe in what they are teaching you. Youtube and Instagram are especially useful when trying to find black trainers.

If you are looking to get healthy, active, or enhance your figure, weightlifting is a great activity to get into. I’m not an expert on these things yet, but these were some of the insights I have found through research, and my own personal journey. This is a very general introduction to weightlifting, but I hope it has piqued your interest!

Sources: The New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler; https://blackdoctor.org/464353/african-americans-lactose-intolerance/; https://www.mtcapra.com/benefits-of-goat-milk-vs-cow-milk/; http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2528283/Black-women-harder-lose-weight-white-women-slower-metabolisms.html

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