Choose Strength

“If you can’t fix it with fish oil or squats, then you’re probably going to die”. –Lift Big Eat Big

In addition to qualifying as science, this is something that I find myself repeating to colleagues, clients, and homeless people who ask me for a dollar for medical expenses because they have an extra arm sticking out of their chest.

definitive ‘hella tite muscles’

Starting out in my own weight training journey in 2003, I started with a quest for abs, which later morphed into a quest for hella-tite ‘beach muscles’, which in turn became a mission to rid myself of shoulder problems developed from benching too much, then a quest for abs again, then back to rehabbing my back, and so on and so forth. If I could go back in time and convince my younger self of one critical thing I have learned in the last 5 years, it would be to INVEST IN GOOGLE DUMMY. Secondly, I would probably tell myself to focus on becoming strong first.

That actually might be a tie with telling myself that drinking out of an open Sobe bottle on the kitchen table after a long night of Mario Cart and Milwaukee’s Best Ice is NEVER a good idea. Never.

Don’t mistake this for me advocating that everyone needs to work out like a powerlifter, or that you need to be working at 90% of your one rep max weight. I speak in absolutes, because it’s fun, and too much time is spent being politically correct, and trying to appease everyone. I get it.

However, our society has put too much emphasis in the wrong place; namely, too much cardiovascular work, and not enough strength training.

Keeping your rep range in the 4-8 range, and doing between 2 and 5 sets would be a good place to start. Make sure that with big compound moves like squats and deadlifts, you don’t push yourself to failure.  Banging out heavy squats until you can’t get the bar up anymore is a great way to end up putting your lifting on hold while you recover from a herniated disk,

Think about the deadlift.

No, seriously, think about it.

It’s a simple barbell move where the bar is picked up from the ground and brought to waist height with straight arms. This mimics many things that we do in our real lives, picking up 3-4 children at the same time, bending over to pick up your aunt Meredith’s dentures, or trying to generate enough force through your torso to keep from getting crushed by angry tweens when you’re at the front of the Nikki Minaj concert.

This is a perfect move for developing full body strength, and keeping yourself healthy during the rest of your life. The weight during a deadlift is essentially hanging from your upper back and neck, forcing your muscles to counteract ‘computer posture’. This weight then needs to be transferred through the core into the legs where you can use your glutes to drive the hips forward until you’re standing up straight. If you can do this correctly, the core strength (and abs) developed from an exercise like this will be impressive.

Furthermore, creating a great set of glutes will do more than just help your physique. It will also help maintain good posture, and help protect your low back. Not to mention making you faster and jump higher, if that’s your cup of tea.

This is just one example of what a primarily strength oriented move can do for you and your body, the results don’t stop there. Here are the top 8 reasons to start a strength training routine today!

1: Increased Muscle Mass – HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, you’re not going to bulk up like  a body builder, but having more muscle mass means that you will be the proud owner of a…

2: Increased Metabolic Rate – Which means you can eat more! Which is the best, because food is delish.

3: Increased Bone Density – This can be a big problem for women and men over 50. My bones are so dense, that they literally exert a gravitational force on my weaker organs.

4: Improves Body Mechanics – Want to be able to move better? Take advantage of the stretch-strengthening principle and use a full range of motion, which translates to feeling and moving better. Especially if you’re a tall lifter, using a partial range of motion makes you look like a douche.

5: Increases Glucose Control – Strength training can help improve insulin sensitivity, which will help regulate blood sugar more effectively.

6: Less Injuries– Just like rocket jumping, motorcycle riding, and plagiarizing from Wikipedia, when done improperly, strength training can be dangerous. However, if done in a controlled and intelligent fashion, it can help strengthen bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles to prevent future injuries.

7: Increased Work Capacity – Building up cardiovascular endurance without a good strength base is like building a house with no foundation.  With an increase in overall strength, there is a good carryover into all athletic endeavors. —What this means is that if you want to be ‘in shape’ get off the elliptical and lift a weight. Just one is fine.

8: Strength is Forever – Since getting truly strong is harder and ‘more expensive’ for your body than getting conditioned enough to run a 5k, your body will hold on to most of those adaptations, even if you stop lifting. Whereas conditioning is created quickly, but if you take a 2 month break, you’ll have to start from scratch again.

So start today, and focus on getting stronger ALL THE TIME.

Remember, strength is conditioned, strength is fit.