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  1. #1

    Psychological Effects of Lifting Very Heavy Weights

    According to strength coach Mark Rippetoe, in his book, "Practical Programming," weightlifting has a pronounced effect on an athlete's psychological development. Especially with the heavy weights that powerlifters lift, the hormonal response triggered by strength training has a definite effect on brain activity. And while many non-athletes are quick to notice the negative psychological effects of weightlifting, such as aggressiveness and narcissism, studies have pointed out that there are many positive effects as well.

    Aggressiveness Perhaps the most often noted psychological effect of lifting heavy weights is aggressiveness. Walk into any gym and you are bound to notice some muscle-bound male heaving superhero amounts of weight around, grimacing and grunting. He will, almost invariably, slam the weights down. Fights have even broken out in gyms over whose turn it is to use a particular weight bench.

    In a paper published by the University of Hawaii, entitled "Personality Concepts and Behaviors in Weight Lifting," weightlifter Rowney Martinez points out that most of the aggressive tendencies of males in the weight room are cause by either hormonal arousal, or a perception that "weightlifters are supposed to be aggressive."

    While the aggressive response to a hormonal release caused by lifting heavy weights is largely unavoidable, the second issue can--and should be--overcome. It is imperative that serious weightlifters make a concerted effort to forgo the violently aggressive rituals of the typical gym scene. Doing so would not only avoid "scaring off" new gym members, but would help improve the public image of weightlifting and powerlifting as serious sports.

  2. #2

    Physical ConfidenceAccording to psychiatrist and researcher Larry A. Tucker, Ph.D., in a 1982 article for the journal "Perceptual and Motor Skills," individuals who reported greater levels of strength training experience also demonstrated a higher level of self-confidence.

    This is an important issue, since the most often cited reason for young men to begin weight training is to increase their physical prowess. Increased physical confidence in men has been demonstrated, according to Dr. Tucker, to reduce their proclivity for interpersonal violence, leading to a decrease in violent crimes like assault and rape. Simply put, men who have physical confidence don't feel like they have to "prove their manhood."

    Self-ImageClosely related to increased physical confidence is an improved self-image among young men who view themselves as having a classic weightlifter's "mesomorphic," or muscular, physique. In another 1982 article, entitled "Relationship Between Percieved Somatotype and Body Cathexis of College Males," published in the journal "Psychological Reports," Dr. Tucker states that the subjects who perceived themselves as having a mesomorphic body structure scored significantly higher on tests indicating their level of self-image. This is directly related to the effect of improved physical confidence, because a man who perceives himself as "well-built" will have more confidence in his ability to overcome physical obstacles.

    "Psychological Reports;" Relationship Between Percieved Somatotype and Body Cathexis of College Males; Tucker, Larry A., Ph.D.; 1982
    "Perceptual and Motor Skills;" Weight Training Experience and Psychological Well-Being;" Tucker, Larry A., Ph.D.; 1982 Personality Concepts and Behaviors in Weight Training

  3. #3

    interesting stuff. thanks for posting, jay. i can see a lot of these changes in myself when i started training.
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