Bullying & Weight Training: How Lifting Weights Can Help End the Torment
Bullying is a problem. It always has been. It is only recently because of the pervasive amount of hand held cameras and social media that people have really begun to step up and call out the abuse for the truly horrible and negative issue it is and the harm it can do in someone’s life. It is estimated that 1 out of every 5 students is bullied at some point during their school year, and of those, more than 30% reported that it occurred more than once per month…sometimes daily. This type of abuse can affect the ability to focus on schoolwork, to make friends, and to enjoy daily life in any way shape or form.
While parents and administrators are making strides to help lower the incidence of bullying, their words and programs can only do so much. A defenseless student cornered by a bully may continue to be victimized if no one is around to stop it. While the bullied may not be able to stop someone from their actions, there are somethings that can do for themselves that may help to curb the issue or end it altogether. One of these is weight training.
I know what you may thinking. We are not talking a ROCKY movie type montage, where a bullied kid begins to train like a beast simply to bulk up and return to defeat the bully. While adding muscle in order to defend oneself can be helpful as well, instead, we are talking about a more in-depth look at what training with weights can do for the individuals, to change them from within, AND make a difference on their physical appearance as well.
HOW WEIGHT TRAINING HELPS ON THE INSIDE
One of the negative outcomes of being bullied results in loss of self confidence and self-esteem. Getting picked on can seriously affect how one feels about themselves and the more self-conscious they are, the more they may be targeted as being weak. Weight training can absolutely help combat this issue and turn it completely around.
When one begins to train with weights, as they make progress…getting stronger, seeing muscles develop, they immediately begin to feel a sense of self-worth…a sense of accomplishment. As goals are met, new ones are set, and a positive cycle is put into place. As a person begins to feel that sense of accomplishment, their feelings of self-worth increase as well, and their confidence will naturally build. While this feeling is internal, a person who feels confident and good about themselves will exude this feeling to others often without even being aware. A bully is less likely to choose a target who appears confident and self-assured.
In addition to the above, there are also hormones released during strenuous weight training that can help one experience feelings of pleasure and combat the negative ones caused by the bullying activity.
HOW WEIGHT TRAINING HELPS ON THE OUTSIDE
Of course, one of the obvious outcomes of training with weights appears when the muscles begin to respond. While it’s not likely to turn into a hulking, mountain of muscle any time soon (nor may the average person even WANT that look) weight training will add increased muscle thickness and definition that will be easily visible to all those around, including the bullies. A physique that sports wider, rounded shoulders…a thicker back and visible chest muscles, as well as arm muscles pressing against the inside of shirt sleeves, may just make a bully think twice about approaching that person as a victim. It will likely make them reconsider the choice altogether. The newly found muscles created may make one stronger, and better able to take care of themselves, but if their appearance ends an altercation before it even starts, that’s an even better scenario.
OK, BUT HOW DOES ONE START TRAINING WITH WEIGHTS?
The good news about weight training is one can accomplish a whole lot with just a few simple movements. It is possible to acquire a lot of new muscle and make serious strength gains by performing just 3 main exercises. These are called COMPOUND MOVEMENTS as each one recruits several muscles throughout the range of motion.
If you are just getting started in weight training, here are the 3 movements to focus on:
The squat- This one is often referred to as THE KING OF EXERCISES because it recruits muscles from all over your body. While mainly focusing on the lower body, performing squats can actually help strengthen your entire musculature. A squat rack with a straight bar is not even required as the movement can be performed simply by holding dumbbells at your sides. You can increase weight as your strength improves. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps to begin and increase the number of sets and amount of weight as you make progress.
Bench press (or chest press)-This one can be performed with a straight bar, using dumbbells, or even just performing pushups on the ground will work to begin with. This movement will strengthen and build muscle in your chest, your shoulders, your triceps (back of arms) and even help to strengthen your abdominal and lower back muscles. Start light and increase weight and number of reps as you make progress.
Pullups (or lat pulldowns)- To round off our trip of training, we focus on the back. Pullups are another incredibly effective muscle and strength training exercise and they will build up the lats (latissimus dorsi), upper back muscles, biceps, shoulders, forearms and even the abs as well. While pullups, or chin-ups can be difficult, you can start with lat pull downs using a machine or simply a resistance band.
While you can find how-to videos of each of the exercises above, having a personal trainer show you the correct form at first is an even better idea. No matter what, take it slow, focus on your form, and you will make progress safely and effectively. While weight training may not be the perfect solution to end bullying for everyone, as you can from the above, it can go a long way in to helping one gain confidence, self-esteem, and a more imposing physique as a result.
Here’s to your weight training success and as always, remember: Bully Weights, Not People!