Hydra Movement: Strength is just the beginning!
When a strength coach or a personal trainer begins a client on strength training they are often met with resistance. People will cite every excuse under the sun to skip the strength workout and hop straight to conditioning or cardio which are perceived as a lot more fun.
When it is our job to help clients achieve their goals - whether it is weight loss, fitness or performance - there is no way we will let you miss out on the most valuable aspect of a workout. It’s time to dispel some myths about strength training.
Excuse: the body builder physique
The intense body shape popularised and polarised by Arnold Schwarzenegger, from his Conan the Barbarian or Ronnie Coleman from his Mr. Olympia days is not a result of proper strength training. Sure, bodybuilders use weights and resistance to develop those overblown muscles but you won’t get there unless that is your sole focus every single day for years and you take a truck load of anabolic steroids
Rest assured that incorporating a strength workout into your broader exercise routine will go a long way towards you looking lean and toned.
Excuse: it will slow my responses
We’ve already mentioned that the goal of strength training is not about lumbering around like the Hulk. Instead, be inspired by Bruce Lee who was an early adopter of strength training. He focussed on strengthening his whole body. The work lay the foundation for the incredible agility and speed witnessed in those famous fighting performances. This is because strength has nothing to do with muscle mass. It is actually the ability of the nervous system to generate force that equates to strength. When your brain sends an instruction to move, an electrical impulse is sent to directly to the nerve which then activates surrounding muscle fibres. With strength training you will increase how long and how fast and how many muscle fibres your central nervous system can engage. The results are endurance, speed and the amount of weight or resistance your body can carry.
Excuse: it’s boring (and this is the big one)
Another misconception about strength training is nothing but a bad hangover from the gym movement of the 70s and 80s. Back then, people worked separate sections of the body, monotonously repeating the same actions until they reached overkill. The key to strength training is working out all parts of the body for short periods of time so that boredom threshold is never reached. Don’t focus just on the number of repetitions which is like counting sheep. Switch all of your attention to the movement. Precision and quality get better results than quantity.
And more importantly, the boring strength stuff gets you strong. It gets your base ready so you can then focus on finer points in your day to day training. These finer points could be more metabolic conditioning (if you are a crossfit athlete), more mobility and agility, more definition (if you compete in a bodybuilding sport) and more importantly, variety and longevity.( if you are in it for life - we refer to this in the point below!)
It also evolves from building strength in base level activities like squatting, deadlifting, performing ‘x’ number of pull ups to more complex lifting patterns, playing on monkey bars and rings and could even definitely progress to floor calisthenics. (if that's where you want your training to go!)
Excuse: I’m too old and tired
Professional athletes are young because the body passes its physical prime at about 35 years old. Yet the older you are the more you need to do strength training if you want to live longer and stronger. It prevents injuries from developing in future years. If you are recovering from injury, the right exercises will aid rehabilitation. Doing strength training will increase your stamina so that you can participate in exercise or daily activities for longer before tiring.
Strength workouts are good for you and ‘fun’ when approached without the misunderstandings. Whether you prefer working with weights or your own body’s resistance doesn’t matter. What does matter is finding the movements you enjoy and will help increase longevity. Whatever your ultimate goal is - shaping up or enhancing performance - including strength training in your regime will get your body and brain working together to reach those milestones.
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Anurag Gill is the Head Coach at HYDRA Movement in Moonee Ponds.