Here goes nothing…The health and fitness industry is swirling with programs, diets, concepts, research and bro-science that can turn your brain into mush or a quite delicious smoothie (if you had some bananas and strawberries that is.) I will be posting on my personal experiences and experiments on myself. In order to have some semblance of a plan for this blog I will be posting on several different topics each week and hopefully rotating through them all.
1. Strength Training
2. Mobility and Flexibility
So today I would like to talk about my true love, strength training.
So why is strength important?
Mark Rippetoe, author of the book Starting Strength, says that strength will improve all other physical attributes like speed and power. In an article on Tnation.com , Rippetoe said “All other aspects of performance depend on strength – this is why athletes take steroids. There are no “balance steroids” and no “agility steroids” and no “endurance steroids” and no “core steroids.” And it’s why they should be squatting, pressing, and deadlifting instead of playing around with “Bulgarian split squats” and other such silly distractions.”
Strength being crucial to peak physical performance makes logical sense but what about regular people like you and me? If you think about it, strength is crucial for a 15 year old male trying to get his first girlfriend as it is for a 55 year old woman to be able to carry her groceries from her car. Strength makes daily tasks easier. Think about this for a second, if you are 70 years old and still can squat your bodyweight than you won’t throw your back out getting off the toilet. In fact, there was a study that I heard about through a podcast (BarbellShrugged.com) where Dr. Andy Galpin referred to a study that concluded that leg strength correlated to human longevity! Here is a link to the study if you don’t believe me. Long term survival
Strength is important but how is it built? My favorite way is through big multi-joint exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, and rows. Why do I like these?
1.) These exercises have a lot of bang for your buck! Because a squat hits your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and adductors. Not to mention the stabilizers like your abs and spinal erectors. Also, when you load a barbell on your back or in the front rack position your traps, lats, deltoids, and rhomboids have to be tight to support the bar. In other words, your back and shoulders have to be tight!
2.) These movements mimic or resemble real life movements. You deadlift when you reach down and pick up a backpack or that case of water. You squat every time you take a poo and lifting your arms overhead is important for stashing that rice cooker in the tallest cabinet possible because you don’t have any more counter or cabinet space, or maybe that’s just me. The point is, getting strong in positions or shapes you use daily is a wise choice.
3.) The third reason I like these exercises is because your body works as a unit. Some people to build their legs will just do leg extensions on a machine and hamstring curls. While this might build a specific muscle group it doesn’t put stress on the legs and body as a whole. When in your life will you need to life something on top of your feet by extending your knee and flexing your quadriceps? probably never and besides your quadriceps doesn’t work alone, your adductors help support and your glutes provide hip extension to stand erect. Point being, those single joint exercises have their place but the body works together so you should work it out together.
4.) Finally, working out does more than just work a muscle. Squats are my favorite exercise so I will use them as an example. As you progressively add more weight to your squat your muscles will adapt to stress and grow stronger. You will recruit more muscle fibers and the muscle will enlarge over time. Other parts of your body are adapting to stress as well, your tendons, ligaments, and even bones grow stronger through consistent weight training. The tendons in your ankles will grow stronger when squatting but if you do leg extensions the ankle receives no stress! Multi joint exercises stress the whole body, forcing the body to adapt and grow.
So this post has turned into an infomercial for multi joint exercises but I really believe they are the foundation and key to any successful training program. If you want to know how to do these exercises I will be posting about that hopefully sometime this week! There are many resources out there on the Internet for learning these movements but try adding them into everyday life. If you don’t go to a gym do 10 body weight squats after you go to the bathroom and see what happens! You might like it. These are basic human movements that we need to be able to perform and perform well. So start living human again and start squatting!
P.S. I am doing program where I squat every day for 30 days! I’ll be writing a post on how this went!