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Why I Lift, and Why You Should Too

Lifting weights is good for you. You don’t need me to tell you that, it’s common sense. Most people intuitively understand that sedentarism is not a good idea, and that exercise (especially resistance training) will do their bodies a lot of good. Below, I’ve compiled 30 great reasons why you should adhere to an exercise regimen. Each of these reasons has at least one published paper supporting the claim. Aerobic and resistance exercise can help:

  1. Maintain functional ability
  2. Prevent osteoporosis
  3. Prevent sarcopenia
  4. Increase insulin sensitivity and decrease insulin resistance
  5. Increase metabolic rate
  6. Improve glucose metabolism
  7. Decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure and arterial stiffness
  8. Decrease body fat and central adiposity
  9. Improve gastrointestinal transit time
  10. Reduce the risk of diabetes
  11. Reduce the risk of heart disease
  12. Reduce the risk of cancer
  13. Reduce the risk of falls, fractures and disabilities
  14. Decrease cardiovascular demands of exercise
  15. Decrease triglyceride, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels
  16. Increase HDL cholesterol levels
  17. Increase muscle and connective tissue strength and hypertrophy
  18. Increase mobility and flexibility
  19. Increase joint stability
  20. Improve balance and coordination
  21. Improve posture
  22. Increase brain/cognitive function
  23. Increase confidence, self-esteem, and happiness
  24. Combat depression and anxiety
  25. Combat metabolic syndrome
  26. Combat frailty syndrome
  27. Improve function in people with cancer, dementia, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, post-stroke disability, lupus, asthma, diabetes, ADHD, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, autism, bipolar disorder, COPD, epilepsy, low back pain, neck pain, chronic headache, and erectile dysfunction
  28. Increase strength, power, speed, and endurance
  29. Prevent ACL, hamstring strain, lumbar, ankle sprain, hip, knee, and shoulder injuries
  30. Improve quality of life and all-cause mortality risk
exercising happiness

See? Exercising makes you happy!

It took me many hours of researching to compile this list, and this list provides compelling reasons why everyone should exercise. But let’s not kid ourselves. Though we all like being healthier and fitter, many of us primarily train for physique purposes. In fact, the primary reason why women exercise is for weight control (87.5% of women), and the primary reason why men exercise is for muscular definition (84.7% of men).

We all have different reasons for exercising. My reasons are going to differ from your reasons. But I’m just going to be honest here and list my top 6 reasons for lifting. I’m well aware that most of these reasons are vain and selfish in nature, but considering the health benefits of exercise, there are far worse evils.

1. Attract More Physically Attractive Partners

Being fit doesn’t give you an excuse to be a jerk or to not practice chivalry. However, it will get your foot in the door with a greater number of attractive people. Sure, we’ve all seen plenty of mismatched couples in terms of physical attractiveness. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and many people gravitate toward partners that make them laugh, feel good about themselves, or inspire them in one way or another. On the other hand, some people will prefer a wealthy mate that will spoil them with gifts and a life of luxury. But make no mistake about it, when most people describe their ideal mate, the individual they describe is physically fit and attractive. If you would like to date someone with a rockin’ body and bangin’ booty, you should probably look the part yourself. Princess Leias rarely want to be with Jabba the Hutts. Plus, getting fit takes much less time than getting filthy rich.


In the real world, Leia doesn’t fantasize about Jabba

If and when you get your chance with a high caliber individual, you’ll need to demonstrate good attributes if you want the person to stick around. There are hundreds of these characteristics, and they include sense of humor, confidence, personal hygiene, attire and style, charisma, integrity, humility, intelligence, competence, optimism, attentiveness, generosity, sexuality and romance, class, tact, ability to have fun, willingness to compromise, assertiveness, dependability, kindness, passion and compassion, courtesy, calmness, affection, ability to lead, work ethic, drive and ambition, daringness, loyalty and trustworthiness, supportiveness, openness, thoughtfulness, special talents, unique mannerisms, scent, and success. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you’re fit, you’ll get a free pass to be lousy in every other area of life.

I’m now engaged to my fiancee Diana, so I’m no longer on the prowl, but that doesn’t diminish my fuel to train like a beast. I want to look good for her and give her more reasons to want to sleep with me.

2. Have More Confidence

Being confident is vital for success. It will help you in relationships and in your career. Confidence is linked to higher income, and it’s a desirable characteristic in potential mates. Speaking from personal experience, having muscles and being strong improves my confidence so I can be a more effective personal trainer and public speaker. During the times in my life when I wasn’t quite as fit and was storing more bodyfat, I didn’t feel confident meeting women or exploring new opportunities.

3. Detract Bullies

I despise bullies. I got picked on quite frequently throughout grade school and even high school, which never sat well with me. I’ve never picked a fight in my entire life for no particular reason other than to dominate another person, and it’s never occurred to me that I could push someone around just because I’m bigger or stronger than them. But this isn’t how bullies operate. They’re in constant search for someone they can manipulate and overshadow. Being muscular, strong, and confident is a good repellent for bullies. They’re more likely to pursue someone else than mess with someone who might be able to whoop their butts if they push things too far. Being confident will also help you better deal with bullies, since you’ll be less likely to give a crap what scummy people think about or do to you.

4. Increased Caloric Intake

I have a confession to make. At around midnight, I turn into a serious food creep. I find myself pacing up and down the kitchen, stalking the cupboards and refrigerator. If I didn’t lift weights, I’d probably look like Jabba the Hutt. I have a voracious appetite, and I have an affinity for particular foods. I probably eat around 5 cheeseburgers per week. I love my cereal. I eat tons of macadamia nuts, yogurt, dried cherries, and dark chocolate. Having extra muscle mass and training intensively allow for markedly greater caloric intake while still being able to look good. I have a lot of wiggle room with my food selection since I regularly consume around 4,000 calories per day. Having a high metabolism makes dieting down much easier when seeking to lean out. And knowing that a big meal is going to be used for replenishment, repair, and fuel for upcoming workouts rather than fat accumulation is very comforting.

5. Look and Feel Athletic

I haven’t played sports in a long time. I’m sure I can’t dunk anymore and I’m probably pretty slow and uncoordinated on the field. But I sure don’t feel that way. I can bust out a heavy full squat and deadlift with perfect form. My hips, shoulders, knees, and back feel healthy. My strength is solid. If need-be, I can carry heavy things from one place to the next. If I prioritized my athleticism for two months by incorporating plyos, sprints, agility drills, and skill work, I could dramatically improve since I’ve always kept a large base of strength. This knowledge sits well with me, as I don’t like feeling like I’m over the hill. When I’m out and about, people often ask me what sport I play, which is good for the ego. I don’t quite perform like an athlete, but lifting weights helps me look and feel like one.

6. Combat Middle-Aged Syndrome

Even though I’m surrounded by people who are much more ripped and much stronger than me, I’m very proud of my strength and of the way I look. The picture below was taken last week, and I didn’t dehydrate myself or pump up before the picture, nor has the picture been edited in any way. Sure, I could stand to lean out more, but this physique was built with lousy genetics, virtually no cardio, no strict dieting, no performance enhancing drugs, and just progressive strength training 4-5 days per week (around 6 hours of lifting per week). In less than 2 years, I’m going to be 40 years of age. This old man isn’t going down without a fight. I intend on being a badass 50 year old, a badass 60 year old, and a badass 70 year old.

BC copy

6’4″, 245 lbs, 18% bodyfat, 38 years old


Now you know why I lift weights, but you will have your own reasons for adhering to an exercise routine. In general, people exercise for health-related purposes, functional purposes, and/or aesthetics purposes. What’s great about exercise is that if you train primarily for one purpose, you’ll automatically get the benefits of the other two areas. For example, if you train because you want a better physique, you’ll experience the positive side effects of achieving better health parameters and increased functional performance. If you train primarily for improved health, you’ll wind up with a better physique and a stronger, more capable body. If you train primarily for function, the end result will also entail looking better and possessing improved physiology. Many people take their health and fitness for granted and they don’t appreciate it until it’s too late. If you are currently sedentary, don’t wait to embark upon a progressive exercise regimen, start today and experience all of the positive side effects that accompany it!


  • Rich says:

    Good stuff.

  • tammy e. says:

    Ha BC! You just made me feel better about my diet :-). Nutella, Nutella quit calling my name! Great post btw. I also like how you put “personal hygiene” towards the beginning of the list. Surely that was random order…maybe?

  • Damon says:

    Great stuff Bret! I’ll be 40 in 9 months and a post like this is definite something I can Identify with…. Stay strong bro!

  • Eugene says:

    Great work sir !
    Also, you look less than 18 % of body fat, I believe that you are 15,8 % – 16,5 %

    • Bret says:

      Thank you Eugene, I got a DEXA scan and I’d like to get another because I though I was lower too. But this was around 4 months ago when I got the scan, so maybe I’ve leaned out slightly since then. Not sure. At any rate, thanks for the boost of confidence.

  • JT says:

    …And a terrific list it is. Thank you for the reminder!

  • You’re really funny. Pilates is better but I like lifting too! This may start an argument but I’m ok with that because I heard you say “Jane Fonda” stuff for glutes at the NSCA personal trainer’s convention in DC this past October. I do like your booty lifting Hip Thruster thing but I’m using the imitation. I’d really like to talk to you about your torture device and just a general program for that hip thruster workout. I’m just opening a pilates studio but might not mind having that machine around for some of the women I train that think glutes are cool!

    • Bret says:

      I think they’d love it Patrea. It’s very Pilates-ish, Joseph would have embraced it LOL. You can have people do band hip thrusts every time they train. Glad you’re thinking outside the box here as a Pilates instructor – it’s always good to borrow methods from other fields.

    • Melissa says:

      I love PILATES too and was a mat trained instructor before I had my second bub. I’ve done the squat challenge and am in the middle of Bret’s glute challenge with modified squats for pelvic floor safety. I have also added in lying knee lifts and knee drop outs to start flattening my stomach. As I have had a slight bladder prolapse, I can’t go back to any forward flexion-type abdominal exercises. I am having great results from all the glute work, including having a higher butt and having a lot of symptom-free days from my pelvic organ problems, which is great. I am keen to do Bret’s Jane Fonda protocol after his glute challenge and am so happy that it, pretty much being Pilates based, will yield the same results as lifting heavy for four days a week. I really hope so because I am never supposed to lift heavy due to having had a prolapse and forever more being at risk of it happening again. Is love to be your guinea pig, Bret, for having a rocking body building body built purely on body weight high reps and diet! Guess I just wanted to have a conversation with you, Patrea, about whether you think PILATES can get you that type of look….

  • claudia says:

    As always you make a great case. I like the humor in this post. Aloha! Claudia

  • Charles Nankin says:

    thats an all-conquering list Bret. the high interest in aesthetics is natural, perhaps accentuated by certain factors. but maybe if people were more aware of these health benefits you list, even more would work out.

    and since resistance training is more time-efficient than aerobics, the value of a list that differentiates between RT and AE would I think be gold.

    here is a study which shows a reduction in mortality for cancer survivors who performed RT. AE showed no such reduction as far as I understand:

  • Ben says:

    Bret, I love the topic and appreciate your insights. What area are you doing your PhD in? As a personal trainer, do you find these reasons to be representative of your clients? Also, why do you think aesthetics are a good (long term) reason to train?

    • Charles Nankin says:

      re your last q ben. i think that our aesthetic preferences ito attractiveness generally reflect a healthy body. for eg one of the most important physical dimensions for attractiveness is the ratio between hip and waist. but this also happens to be one of the most critical determinants of longevity!

      so, altho we see many problems in life with people putting too much emphasis on the superficial, you can at least see that body aesthetics affect attractiveness, health, and strength as well to some extent. so, not so bad as a motivator.

      that is outside of the fitness industry however! i would say that within the fitness industry, aesthetics become important and don if physical characteristics are valued above health, there is an effort to maximise these characteristics to an extreme, even if that extreme does not necessarily match with our attractiveness and health ideals.

      • Charles Nankin says:

        aesthetics become important to reflect certain workout objectives, rather than the generally accepted attractiveness/healthy ideals. and as its a compeittive environment, these fitness industry aesthetics are then taken to the extreme. so you have a whole bodybuilding sport that produces male and female bodies that are not generally considered attractive, but overpower the general attractiveness/health aesthetics thru the marketing images and the professionals themselves. the bright lights, loud music and supplement industrry feed into this “aggressiveness”.

        and ofcourse these aesthetics are aggressive to the body.

        and when shortcuts are taken, as they have to be, the consequences are really aggressive! we have alot of cases here in brazil of people taking shortcuts. so no shortage of women whose facial structure starts to look masculine, women dying or ending up in ICU from injecting gel into their butts (2 in the last month). the most famous fitness model has a slightly too deep a voice for my liking. and even bikini models in the States commonly stop having their period – not a good sign.

        the worst of this is, in my view, that this aggressiveness and extremism drive away a large majority of the population from getting too interested in lifting weights. weightlifters are often seen as a little bit dim or uncultured or obsessed.

        as Brets list shows, this is probbaly one of the greatest disasters for our planet. because a short, regular, intense reisstance workout is the quickets, cheapest and best way to optimise your well-being and longevity.

  • Jesus Fuentes says:

    Great article as always Mr. Contreras (or is it Dr. Contreras yet?). I agree with the majority of the article. The only thing I would add, just from the experience of being a short little dude (5’7″ 145 lbs), height plays a bit in the role of how women (and other men) view a man. Typically people automatically view a short person has being less assertive on the field or the office. Training for performance allows the smaller dudes the ability to equal or better the performance of those more physically “gifted” than themselves.

  • Pete says:

    Trading 90-120 minutes of time per week to reap the myriad of benefits of resistance training is such a high ROI trade that it honestly blows my mind that more people don’t do it. The best part? Basic weight training is easy. You’re winded for what, like, 30 seconds after a hard set? If I think about dealing with the hardest things in life, a set of heavy dead lifts is pretty low on the list, honestly.

  • john says:

    Great read Bret,

    In regards to your points about your photo, I keep trying to remind my PT clients that most internet photos are edited, filtered, taken in a dehydrated state, straight after a weights or cardio workout etc.

    It is not real and makes many clients feel worse. I am glad you put this post up.

    Love the honesty and the blog of course.



  • Maria says:

    Great article Brett! Just brought strong curves and love it so much already! I am 5’5, 120 pounds, and have been lifting since I was sixteen( 20 years old now). I have never reached what I believe to be my greatest potential as far as lower body because i do not believe through out all 4 years I was lifting and eating enough/properly. I want to be consistent and recomp my body. I did the formula for strong curves and got my daily caloric number maintenance which is higher than I eat now. Should I try out this slightly higher number when starting strongcurves? Should I eat the same number of calories even on rest days while doing the program ? Thanks for listening!

  • Dunkman says:

    Great stuff, Bret. There are so many reasons to train, but none hit home more than this one. Not only is training important to those of us who are lucky enough to have full use of our bodies, but for those who work through their own challenges.

  • Teresa Merrick, Ph.D. says:

    Hey–“Dare to Be 100”! (read book by Walter M. Bortz)

  • niven says:

    B.C. you are an inspiration and a great coach and athlete !!!! Every article you post amazes me more than the former and hec, you gonna be re-defining 40’s 50’s and 60’s and setting new standards.

  • Kitty says:

    I like heavy compound training because it’s fun. Deadlifting is my favourite. There is nothing like pulling a big weight off the floor when it comes to getting a buzz. Sadly I don’t have access to the right equipment at the moment.

  • JJ says:

    I love your Strong Curves book and the fact that it is specifically for women. I have been doing the Gorgeous Glutes program with weights in the book for about seven weeks and have already gained muscle and lost some fat without doing any heavy cardio. My glutes are gaining mass.

    Unfortunately I have developed large dents in the sides of my butt with the program.

    Some people might refer to them as “dancer’s dents”, but they are not flattering to my already square, flat butt (genetics- my mom has a flat butt too). It’s almost like the part of the muscle starting around the upper hip and going horizontal across the upper glute is getting over developed or something. Are there some modifications to Gorgeous Glutes that a woman with this problem should make? Perhaps dropping an exercise or adding more reps of a specific one, or adding a hip building exercise? I have very little fat on my butt (none at the top) or hips and am about at my ideal weight and 19.5% body fat. I store all my excess weight in my stomach and love handles (apple shaped and straight up and down from the back). I gain muscle easily.

    I have seen this question asked a few times in the comments (in the Meagan Fox post and recently under Testimonials) so I am really hoping you have time to address it.


  • Alison says:

    Thank you for this article & all the others you’ve posted & for sharing your unedited/untouched pic with us. I recently bought Strong Curves & now love the hip thrust exercise (I’m still working on loading up the bar slowly to be safe & haven’t found my max yet). As a middle-aged woman who started resistance & cardio training a couple of years ago, I really appreciate any solid advice I can find & your website & articles are among my favourites! Although, I’ve never leaned out as much as I wanted to & still suffer from some body image issues, I have to keep reminding myself how far I have come & how much more I’ve accomplished than I even imagined I’d ever do from completing in Tough Mudder to learning the Olympic lifts to setting a PR for the United Way CN stair tower climb. Thanks again ever so much, keep blogging/writing & wish you & Diana all the best!

  • Despina Belle-Isle says:

    In the 6 or so years that i have been lifting, my cholesterol has dropped 70 points, my bone density scans have improved, i no longer suffer from sciatica, i can actually kneel on the floor without pain. I am now 55 years old and am the strongest that i have ever been. I love your books and your website, Bret. I finally have a booty!

  • Excellent article, Brett. My favorite was last paragraph…I dig that ‘I ain’t going down without a fight’ reference and I am right there with you brau…just a bit older (at 49). I appreciate your tireless work and contribution to the industry and beyond…Thank You-MJ

  • Mark says:

    Brett, you’re cool guy who has contributed greatly to to the field of exercise science. Thanks.

  • Julia Salvucci says:

    Hi Bret,
    I recently have purchased your book strong curves and I really like it so far!
    I used to use body for life method and I wanted to know how you felt about the method he uses with weight training and what you think about how that will build muscle.
    I’m just confused because when I used his program it did work quite fast but he did not include the glutes and that’s why am interested in your book.
    Yet im curious as to what you think of the method he uses with doing higher rep with low weights and each rep after gets shorter but weights get heavier.
    I liked the results and they came in 12 weeks as he claims they will, but im wondering what his training method is doing with muscle growth and strength compared to your method. Here is a description from the body for life website below. Thankyou
    Julia S.

    {Weight train intensely, three times per week on alternating days with aerobic exercise three times per week. Make sure to hit your “high points” during your workout.
    Alternate training the major muscles of the upper and lower body.
    Perform two exercises for each major muscle group of the upper body.
    Select one exercise and conduct five sets with it, starting with a set of 12 reps, then increasing the weight and doing 10 reps, adding more weight and doing 8 reps, adding more weight for 6 reps. Then reduce the weight and do 12 reps. Immediately perform another set of 12 reps for that muscle group using the second selected exercise.
    For each muscle group, rest for one minute between the first four sets. Then complete the final two sets with no rest in between, wait two minutes before moving on to your next muscle group, complete this pattern five times for the upper body training experience and four times for the lower body training experience.}
    Choose Exercise from List.
    Barbell Bench Presses
    Barbell Incline Presses
    Dumbbell Bench Presses
    Dumbbell Incline Presses
    Dumbbell Flyes
    Cable Crossovers
    Repetitions: x12, x10, x8, x6, x12, x12

  • Lisa says:

    Love the 6 Reasons you work out & I would definitely agree with most of them, especially #1!! You want to have a mate that has common interests as you, so if you want the attractive, in shape significant other, than, yes, you better fit the part yourself. I began working out 17 years ago, but only began with cardio & ab’s & incorporated the strength training in about 12 years ago. I’m absolutely addicted & love to lift & feel strong! Thanks for all your wonderful insight & information & keep it rolling 🙂 God Bless!

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