- Created on Tuesday, 12 October 2010 17:59
When you hear the word "strength" what image comes to mind? Is it a massive brute lifting something big and heavy? What about an average man or woman carrying a suitcase through the airport? An older, gray haired granny opening a new jar of hand cream?
I was reading a post online about someone's opinion that many modern exercisers have moved away from training for strength to training for looks. This is probably true about a lot of people working out. Think about it, how strong do you need to be to go about your normal daily activities? There's a machine or tool designed to handle just about any task that would require a significant amount of effort to lift, push, pull, twist, tear, or move something in any direction. Now couple this with sedentary lifestyles and muscles have no stimulus to maintain tone, metabolisms can decrease faster, and fat levels increase higher. So other than for health reasons, the average person will take up exercise in hopes of molding their physique to their idea of what looks good.
And contrary to what you may read online, there's more than one way to do this. But one thing the best methods have in common is strength training, specifically progressive strength training. In order to change or adapt, the muscles need a reason, or stimulus, to strengthen, improve their tone, grow larger if that's what you're after, and grow stronger, which is a very good thing. Can you think of a situation where being strong is not a good thing? If you can please comment below.
Personally I think if there was not so much confusion and nonsense about training more people would realize the importance of progressive strength training and not be hesitant to design their training programs around this key element of fitness.
I know for a fact that some women are still fearful of developing "big, bulky muscles" if they add an element of strength training to their workouts. Sadly this myth is still being spread by some personal trainers. Ladies, if you believe it is easy to add muscles to your frame go into a gym and interview some of the males that are seriously working out toward that goal. Those that have succeeded and those that haven't yet will let you know it's not that easy.
For guys, something that's adding to the confusion are the theories floating around the web regarding transient hypertrophy and myofibril versus sarcoplasmic hypertrophy(fancy terms for muscle growth.) Certain online marketers, while trying to promote their own preferred methods by bashing hypertrophy training, are leading the misinformed to believe they'll reach their goals by using light weights and high repetitions. This fallacy might be causing some trainees to fail because they are not placing any emphasis on increasing their strength through progressive resistance. It's true that certain physique athletes train with the emphasis only on size, but that doesn't mean they are not strong. I've never met a very large muscular person whose main goal was getting huge that wasn't strong as hell. It's how you manipulate the many training variables that can determine the overall outcome of your training.
Of course for some, the drawback to performing strength training will be laziness or fear, or a combination of both. This is where proper progression is crucial. For the average new exerciser it's almost unthinkable to believe that in a matter of weeks or months they might possibly be using double or triple the resistance they are currently using. But realizing that by progressively increasing the resistance in manageable amounts as your muscles adapt to the current loads and get stronger should alleviate that fear. This might make the thought of strength training seem less unpleasant for those beginners that have not yet started enjoying the many rewards and benefits of regular exercise.