In today’s fitness industry everyone is chasing the burn. They’re looking for the next workout that will make their fat cry and burn their troubles away. Unfortunately chasing the burn perpetuates the desire with fast, short-term results. What is also unfortunate, is that fad exercise trends like HIIT, IT, and the latest group exercise rehash of P-90X or Insanity, leads to overuse injuries and burn out often. Don’t get shit twisted! I’m not saying these things are necessary wrong or bad. I’m merely suggesting the way we are going about it does more harm than good. If you love HIIT training -great! This post isn’t about the dangers of HIIT training or any other conditioning based program. I want you to understand that, though conditioning is important, strength is more important.
What is strength? By definition: noun
“1. the quality or state of being strong; bodily or muscular power; vigor.
2. mental power, force, or vigor.
3. moral power, firmness, or courage.
4. power by reason of influence, authority, resources, numbers, etc.
5. number, as of personnel or ships in a force or body:a regiment with a strength of 3000.
6. effective force, potency, or cogency, as of inducements or arguments:the strength of his plea.
7. power of resisting force, strain, wear, etc.
8. vigor of action, language, feeling, etc.
9. the effective or essential properties characteristic of a beverage, chemical, or the like:The alcoholic strength of brandy far exceeds that of wine.
10. a particular proportion or concentration of these properties; intensity, as of light, color, sound, flavor, or odor:coffee of normal strength.
11. something or someone that gives one strength or is a source of power or encouragement; sustenance:The Bible was her strength and joy.
12. power to rise or remain firm in prices:Stocks continued to show strength. The pound declined in strength.” -from Dictionary.com
Now as you read that, you can see the term “strength” can mean a lot of different things. What I’m talking about really relates to your ability to either apply force to an object or situation or your ability to bear force from an object or situation. This is SUPER important. You see if you want to be strong you have to practice strength regularly. The older we get the more we’re losing our ability to do work. The body becomes more and more conservative regarding its resources and if you aren’t training it to get stronger then it’s going to choose to get weaker.
Let’s just say that when you do stuff in your day to day life, that’s called work. So your daily work might be: your job, shuttling kids, house chores, spin class, going out dancing, etc. Strength is your ability to do those things, and your bodies ability to endure them over time. The graphic on this post illustrates it beautifully. On the left is a low level of basic strength. If you are the person on the left, you have to work hard just to do the day to day demands of life. Not only that -you’re tapping into reserves at times just to make ends meet! On the right, however, you are stronger than your daily demands. This means you have lot of reserves to pull on to do and enjoy other things in life. Or, heaven forbid, you have the reserve to run and get away from a tiger.
A real world example:
The person on the left is, we’ll call her Tabitha, your average 38 year old mother of 2. She works a part time job while the kids are at school and spends the rest of her day taking kids from one place to the next, getting errands done for the house hold, and doing 900 other things that make the family work. She doesn’t sleep well, because she’s tired and always worrying about 9 or 10 things that didn’t get done today but need to get done soon. Her body hurts, and she can barely make any time for herself. Unfortunately, Tabitha doesn’t know anything about strength training, and couldn’t tell us, if we asked her, what her max deadlift is. She could tell us that carrying groceries from the car to the house is hard, that her kids are heavy, and that she’s always tired. Sound familiar?
The person on the right is, we’ll call her Stephanie, also a 38 year old mother of 2. She discovered strength training about 6 months ago, but prior to that she was just like Tabitha. She has all of the same work Tabitha does, but there is one key difference. Because she’s been training for the last six months she regularly lifts 200 +lbs off of the ground, and so to her the kids don’t feel so heavy, day to day tasks don’t tire her out and she’s able to get more shit done. This allows her to sleep better, feel better, and makes life just better in general. How does that sound?
I’m not kidding folks. If you could work on 1 thing physically right now, some kind of strength work should be it. Cardio, endurance, and even mobility can be worked in and will improve along side strength. But strength will not improve if you do not train it. If you’re not training it -you’re getting weaker, and you’re letting negligence slowly kill you.
Whoa! That was intense, but I’m serious. Training strength is hard. It can be boring. But you absolutely need to be doing it. Want to learn more about strength and how to train it? Here are some good resources:
- Me: Jason Giles email me at [email protected]
- StrongFirst School of Strength www.strongfirst.com
- The Naked Warrior
- Power to the People
- Easy Strength
There are a lot of other good resources out there, but this will get you started. I hope you choose to get stronger my friends. I guarantee you won’t regret it if you do. I guarantee you will regret it if you don’t.