This article is a bit of a preface for my next mini-series (or series-within-a-series) on the 3rd of our 5 Pillars: Foundational Strength. It will be a 3-part series covering the nuts and bolts of three different common strength training methods based on tools used. Today, we’re going to be a bit more broad in our look at strength.
Strength can mean many things. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “the quality or state of being physically strong; the ability to resist being moved or broken by a force; the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way.”
Strength is more than just picking things up and putting them down. Yes, that’s a major component…but without having the mental strength required to get to the gym and train…or to get through a hard session, for that matter, you won’t really get much accomplished.
Strength is something that everyone should train for. It doesn’t matter what your overall goal is, building strength will help you reach it.
Whether your goal is to lose weight, improve your mobility, prevent/rehabilitate injuries, build muscle, improve athletic performance, or (wait for it…) get stronger…strength training is one of the most important, but most ignored and least understood, parts of the process.
Let’s look at your average weight loss training. It generally involves massive amounts of cardio, maybe some light machine work, and lots of caloric restriction. None of this will really help you get to your goal.
Strength training with bodyweight, free weights, or unconventional training tools, builds lean muscle. Having more lean muscle tissue results in increased metabolism, and more rapid fat loss. It also bolsters the body against injury and can help bring balance to your structure, improving both chronic pain and imbalances. In addition to those benefits it strengthens your bones and reduces the chance of developing osteoporosis in later years (and can slow the onset in older athletes).
There are many ways of building strength, but the most important thing to keep in mind is the fact that short-term programs DO NOT WORK.
Think about it this way: you’re about to finish your 12-week program…so now what do you do? Do you do the same thing over, expecting even more results? Do you find another 6 or 12 week program that’s “harder” or “more intense”?
If you’re stuck in this cycle you’re only going to slow your progress…if you don’t stop it altogether. You want to be stronger/bigger/leaner in 12 weeks? That’s all fine and good…but then what are you going to do for the next 1,040-plus weeks? The same thing, over and over? Or would you rather keep getting stronger and stronger, better and better…and more capable of taking any physical and mental challenge life throws at you?
Long-term strength training is the answer, whether you’ve asked the question or not. The need for instant gratification is strong in our society, but it’s something that MUST be overcome if we want to achieve long-term, lasting results instead of the common yo-yo of weight/muscle loss and gain.
You should be training for YEARS…not WEEKS. You must make strength, mobility, and movement a LIFESTYLE. If not, you’ll never reach your potential. You’ll always be less than you could be.
As I’ve said before, we don’t need to use our bodies the same way our ancestors did in order to live. We have forgotten what it means to live a physical life. But just because we have forgotten it doesn’t mean our bodies have. Movement and strength are ingrained in our very DNA…into the smallest components, the very fibers of our being.
We can’t be whole, let alone reach our ultimate potential unless we have the strength of body and mind to carry us there. Seeking comfort and ease will not get us there. In fact, they tend to be one of the biggest obstacles we must overcome. Modern conveniences have ruined us.
There are strength records and feats from the turn of the century that still have not been matched because of this…even with the extra help of performance-enhancing drugs.
So forget about everything the mainstream fitness industry has told you. You need to get strong in order to make lasting changes in your life, balance, mobility, and body composition. You need to get strong to live a fuller life. You need to get strong so you DON’T HAVE TO USE A HANDHOLD TO GET OFF THE TOILET when you’re older.
In my 5 Pillars – Foundational Strength Series I will show you how to get started and cover some of the above topics greater detail. Stay tuned!