What has Powerlifting ever done for me?

The effects of strength training on mental wellbeing and the aging process

For the past three years, I have been balancing my love for powerlifting with my managerial and scholarly role in Trinity College.

Powerlifting is a form of competitive weightlifting in which athletes attempt three types of lift in a set sequence, squat, bench press and deadlift. The goal is to get the highest possible total between the three lifts. Competing in powerlifting requires meticulous planning, training, and body awareness. I have to balance training time with work time and take care of my body by getting proper nutrition and adequate sleep.

Weightlifting can reduce processes related to aging

The benefits of powerlifting reach beyond strength. Weight-bearing exercise can increase bone density, decrease the reduction in muscle mass and resting metabolism associated with aging, reduce fat weight, reduce resting blood pressure, and reduce aging processes in skeletal muscle. Additionally, weight training can decrease symptoms of depression, increase self-esteem, create a positive perception of one’s body, and improve cognitive ability.

Powerlifters have described the relaxation aspect of this sport, the reduction of anger and the emotional wellbeing. I agree with them. No matter how much is going on in my life, when I am preparing for a big lift there is this intense concentration with one single purpose – to get that weight of the ground. This is a quiet and meditative moment, I notice nothing else but the weight and how my muscles work together to lift it.

What does it do for me?

I think that powerlifting enables me to manage the other aspects of my life – in particular the combination of practitioner and scholarly work. Thanks to my sport I can completely switch off for a few hours a week.

So I am not only training to get physically stronger and break world records, I am training to take care of myself both now and later. I am now in better shape than ever. I am stronger, feel calmer, the best is really that my training, discipline and determination gives me the ability to face better everything that life might throw at me!

 

Der Effekt von Krafttraining auf mentales Wohlbefinden und den Alterungsprozess

In den letzten drei Jahren habe ich meine Liebe zum Powerlifting mit meiner leitenden und wissenschaftlichen Rolle im Trinity College verbunden.

Powerlifting ist eine Form des Wettkampfes, bei der Athleten drei Arten von Gewichtheben in einer bestimmten Reihenfolge durchführen, Kniebeugen, Bankdrücken und Kreuzheben. Ziel ist es, die höchstmögliche Summe zwischen den drei Liften zu erhalten. Um im Powerlifting zu konkurrieren, bedarf es sorgfältiger Planung, Training und Körperbewusstsein. Ich muss die Trainingszeit mit der Arbeitszeit in Einklang bringen und mich um meinen Körper kümmern, indem ich richtige Ernährung und ausreichend Schlaf bekomme.

Gewichtheben kann Alterungsprozesse verlangsamen

Neben dem stärker werden hat Powerlifting hat aber noch andere Vorteile. Krafttraining kann die Knochendichte erhöhen, den Abbau von Muskelmasse und den mit dem Alterungsprozess in Verbindung stehenden Stoffwechsel im Ruhezustand verringern, das Fettgewicht reduzieren, den Blutdruck im Ruhezustand senken und die Alterungsprozesse im Skelettmuskel reduzieren. Darüber hinaus kann das Krafttraining die Symptome einer Depression verringern, das Selbstwertgefühl erhöhen, eine positive Körperwahrnehmung bewirken und die kognitive Leistungsfähigkeit verbessern.

Powerlifters haben den Entspannungsaspekt dieses Sports, die Reduktion von Ärger und das emotionale Wohlbefinden beschrieben. Ich stimme ihnen zu. Egal wie viel in meinem Leben vor sich geht, wenn ich mich auf einen schweren Lift vorbereite, gibt es diese intensive Konzentration mit einem einzigen Ziel – das Gewicht vom Boden zu bekommen. Dies ist ein ruhiger und meditativer Moment. Ich bemerke nichts anderes als das Gewicht und wie meine Muskeln zusammenarbeiten, um das Gewicht zu heben.

Andere Vorteile des Powerliftings

Ich denke, dass Powerlifting es mir ermöglicht, die anderen Aspekte meines Lebens zu bewältigen – insbesondere die Kombination aus praktischer und wissenschaftlicher Arbeit. Dank meines Sports kann ich einige Stunden pro Woche komplett abschalten.

Ich trainiere also nicht nur um körperlich stärker zu werden und Weltrekorde zu brechen, sondern auch um jetzt und in späteren Jahren gesund und fit zu bleiben. Ich bin jetzt in besserer Kondition als je zuvor. Ich bin stärker, fühle mich ruhiger, das Beste ist, dass mein Training, meine Disziplin und meine Entschlossenheit mir ermöglichen, die Herausforderungen des Lebens besser zu bewältigen.

Aggression in Sport vs in Aggression the Workplace

This morning I went to my usual Sunday training session in my powerlifting gym. During my rest periods between lifts, I watched a group of lifters preparing for a competition. They all looked fearsome, strong, and aggressive. Many had tattoos and body piercing. Some had tribal haircuts. The athletes growled and shouted before lifts, some stamped their feet. Loud heavy metal music played from the sound system, so everybody was shouting to communicate. Somebody walking into this gym for the first time would probably find it quite scary.
Having been going to this gym for over a year I soaked up the atmosphere, wondering about all this terrifying display of aggressiveness. I have to admit that I too engage in this behaviour, in powerlifting competitions particularly, where I know I have to push out the boat. There are certain routines I go through to get the adrenaline flowing, perhaps to get into fight mode, to push myself to lift heavier than ever, to win and break records. I growl, through up my arms, I hit my weightlifting belt.
To find out why athletes display aggressive routines before lifting heavy weights, I turned to sport science and existing knowledge to find out what is known about aggressive behaviour in sport, in particular weightlifting. I found out that in sport there seems to be a difference made between hostile aggression and instrumental aggression. So maybe aggression is not always a bad thing? It appears instrumental aggression can help to focus and increase performance.
But what about aggression at work, aggression towards others? Surely that type can only be hostile. We likely think of someone who is loud, maybe angry, probably has a bullying manner, talks over people, throws their weight around etc. It is a very negative, emotional image. Aggression does not belong into the workplace, schools and other institutions. It has a negative effect on people’s health and wellbeing. So perhaps anybody feeling the need to be aggressive and cannot control it  should try channeling  it into sport – applying the instrumental kind!