Episode #11 - "Lift The Heavy Thing"

“If you think lifting weights can be dangerous, not lifting weights will keep you weak. Being weak will be dangerous”.

— Niall Curran, research scientist

Date Published


Main Topic



1hr 22min

‘Lift the heavy thing’ episode is a slight departure from other episodes in that the discussion focuses on the power of weight lifting but on the flipside to that coin – Movement. Getting out of one’s head and into the body is a powerful idea for those of us that in modern times, lead a relatively sedentary lifestyle through long hours at a computer for one, but also quite cerebral weeks that lead into months and years doing backflips in our minds. The benefits of deliberate bouts of physical workout are numerous from lifting weights to developing practices around yoga, martial arts or crawling around on the floor and up and down the stairs after your toddler. These benefits are wide ranging when we speak of the body’s natural production of hormones like Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and certain cocktails of endorphins as a result of running and climbing a mountain for example.   

We mention studies in relation to HGH and it’s physiological benefits as we age, and how certain  aspects of an ageing body can be reversed and enhanced with the readdition of healthy doses of HGH. We mention expert analysis into how weight lifting can help strengthen our skeletal structure and indeed induce the production of HGH and testosterone while you’re ‘lifting the heavy thing’. Improving one’s posture will be a beneficial result in strengthening skeletal density through resistance training and lifting. Analysis of this side of posture shows up in the enhancement of your frame as you grow older, and in so doing, hopefully preventing chronic illnesses associated with muscle mass reduction and bone density decay over time.

Movement culture then has always been a common practice amongst sporty individuals, however a new breed of culture is sprouting in the UK and through individuals like Ido Portal. This type of culture is needed now more than ever. So developing movement practices are a great way to balance our mental dexterity in today’s information world. We the trainee Druids have vowed to take on a level of ‘lifting’ to supplement and condition ourselves within the movement practices that we’re engaged with. Hopefully, after listening to this episode, you too will join the movement culture and elevate and enhance both your own body and mind!   

Main Topic Of This Episode​​

For each episode, we will highlight the main topic discussed and share a video from YouTube we think is worth watching.

Check out this video by Conor Daniel David as he goes down through the various health benefits of lifting weights. Weightlifting has profound benefits to both your physical and mental wellbeing, so it’s not all just about getting a ripped six pack and swole arms!

Check Out Some Further Reading​

Found something interesting discussed in this episode? Chances are, we found it interesting too and we went off and did a bunch of reading online about it.

So why not dive further into the topic! Here are some handy links we think you might like.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, mostly at night while we sleep. This occurs in the early hours or stage 2 NREM. From a physiological view, HGH is responsible for glucose and protein uptake by the muscles and bone while we sleep. 

HGH is also secreted during bouts of exercise such as weightlifting, but also sprinting or HIIT exercise. During these workouts, muscles and bones involved in the movement require more ATP energy in the form of glucose (unless you are in Ketosis). Long distance running does prompt the pituitary to secrete HGH, although not as much as would be produced when bone and muscle stress is applied in other movements. 

Here are some ways to increase production without supplementing:

Get more good quality sleep,  don’t eat breakfast right away (as there is prolonged production of HGH after sleep). Consume Melatonin before sleep (might not be for everyone, the others are natural boosters) and increase exercise (develop ‘fast twitch’ muscles by lifting heavy weights). 

Gamma Aminobutyric Acid supplement (GABA) – Pro athletes do supplement with this.

For more information on HGH and optimising your workouts, chcek out the book ‘Beyond Training’ by Ben Greenfield.

Daniel Rudman MD. Et al, 2003; The New England Journal of Medicine

Hypothesis: Diminished secretion of growth hormone is responsible in part for the decrease of lean body mass, the expansion of adipose-tissue mass, and the thinning of the skin that occur as we age.

To test this hypothesis, a six-month base-line period and a six-month treatment period were designed. During the treatment period group 2 received approximately 0.03 mg of biosynthetic human growth hormone per kilogram of body weight subcutaneously three times a week, group 1 (control group) received no treatment. Plasma IGF-I levels were measured monthly. At the end of each period researchers measured lean body mass, the mass of adipose tissue, skin thickness (epidermis plus dermis), and bone density at nine skeletal sites.

The participants were told not to alter their lifestyles (including their use of tobacco or alcohol and their level of physical activity) during the 12-month study period. It must be included that the study protocol was carried out with the informed consent of each subject and with the approval of the human-research committees of the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Chicago Medical School.

Results: In group 2, the mean plasma IGF-I level rose into the youthful range of 500 to 1500 U per litre during treatment, whereas in group 1 it remained below 350 U per litre. The administration of human growth hormone for six months in group 2 was accompanied by an 8.8 percent increase in lean body mass, a 14.4 percent decrease in adipose-tissue mass, and a 1.6 percent increase in average lumbar vertebral bone density (P<0.05 in each instance). Skin thickness increased 7.1 percent (P = 0.07). There was no significant change in the bone density of the radius or proximal femur. In group 1 there was no significant change in lean body mass, the mass of adipose tissue, skin thickness, or bone density 

Within one month after the administration of growth hormone had been initiated, the mean IGF-I level rose to 830 U per litre (P<0.05), and it remained near this value for the next five months.

P values based on two-tailed, matched-pair t-tests were calculated for the comparisons between the 6-month and 12-month values in group 1 and group 2. In addition, for each response variable the 6-month value was subtracted from the 12-month value to represent the change in each subject.

The effects of six months of human growth hormone on lean body mass and adipose-tissue mass were equivalent in magnitude to the changes incurred during 10 to 20 years of aging. Among the questions that remain to be addressed are the following: What will be the benefits and what will be the nature and frequency of effects when other doses of human growth hormone are studied? What organs are responsible for the increase in lean body mass, and do their functional capacities change as well?

In short, this study achieved a positive result in relation to the benefits of HGH across multiple different functions as tested in the treatment of the participants with biosynthetic HGH. In relation to natural production of HGH, good quality sleep, exercise and time restricted eating or fasting in the morning will help to keep this growth hormone at healthy beneficial levels to afford individuals longevity in the above physiological states.

Poor posture can be helped with exercise and weightlifting, but poor posture may not actually be caused by a weak body. Our body’s contact points with the world are via our eyes and our feet. Our feet sense ‘level footing’ and our eyes pay attention to the horizon. This informs how our body is physically positioned in the world. If we suffer from either foot or eye muscle imbalances (which up to 90% of us do), this can incorrectly inform our brain about our physical posture in relation to our physical surroundings. End result, poor posture.

Check out this excellent TED Talk by Annette Verpillot (a posturologist, entrepreneur and public speaker). She explains how poor posture can be caused by foot and eye muscle imbalances, and suggests a 30 second technique we can all try at home to improve our posture.

As well as giving your an attractive physique, weightlifting can bring enormous benefits to your overall wellbeing, especially as you age. Just two age-related diseases which weightlifting can help combat are osteoporosis and sarcopenia.

Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Viewed under a microscope, healthy bone looks like a honeycomb. When osteoporosis occurs, the holes and spaces in the honeycomb are much larger than in healthy bone. This leads to brittle bones, meaning a simple slip or fall can have much more serious consequences.

Sarcopenia, or muscle wasting, is when we lose muscle mass as we age. Muscle is harder to build and maintain as we age. In fact, most of us start losing muscle around age 30, and physically inactive people can experience anywhere from a 3-8 percent reduction in lean muscle mass every decade thereafter. This is due to lower testosterone levels in men and lower estrogen levels in women – both hormones that help build muscle – as well as changes in nerve and blood cells and the body not converting amino acids to muscle tissue as efficiently, among other factors.

To learn about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life so far is to learn about someone who achieved much much more than most people might consider possible in one lifetime. Growing up in 1940s and 1950s Austria, he was dissatisfied with his life and surroundings and he wanted out.

As a teenager in school, he came across a magazine which had a profile on Reg Park, a bodybuilder from the UK who had won Mr. Universe and played ‘Hercules’ in the 1961 movie. Arnold saw this as inspiration and a way out of post WW2 Austria. Use bodybuilding as a vehicle to fame and wealth.

Within 5 years, he achieved the first part of his goal – He was crowned Mr. Universe. From there, he overcame obstacle after obstacle and became the highest paid action movie star in Hollywood. Not content with this success already, he went on to become Govenor of California.

Arnold continues to train and provide inspiration to fans around the world. Check out this video of him explaining his ‘5 Rules for Success’.

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