...And everyone can benefit from being strong
Strength is one of the most important attributes that a person can possess. Throughout the course of human history physical strength was critical to daily survival. Although technology and human culture have radically changed, strength above all other factors determines the quantity and quality of our lives. Humans, through labor and hard earned evolution, possess functional muscle, bone, tendon, and nerves. Even separated from the immediate need to utilize these tissues for survival, they deserve our attention. Physical activity, exercising, and training are not something extra we perform to become super-human, they simply restore the human body from a diseased state to that which it was designed to do.
Physical strength is simply the ability to produce force against an external resistance. Simply put strength allows humans to interact with their environment. Standing from a chair, putting an object overhead into a cupboard, helping a friend move a couch, and hitting an opposing lineman all require various levels of strength. The stronger the person the better they are at performing such things. We all know the elderly or obese person that is unable to stand from a chair any longer, this is an example of a critical loss of strength and exemplifies the importance strength carries for your health,
Strength is critical for health. Strength improves cardiovascular fitness as indicated by Vo2 max (Ozaki et al., 2013). Strength
training provides all of the benefits often attributed to 30 minutes of jogging; reduced blood pressure, improved cholesterol, increased energy, and stamina. Strength improves economy of movement and is far more important than steady state cardio for any field or strength athlete. That is not to say that proper conditioning work is not important, but that strength training is adequate for health and a more important attribute to develop initially.
Mobility is improved by strength training. Barbell training is simply normal human movements that are loaded. Performing normal human movements regularly through a full effective range of motion reinforces good motor patterns and assures that a person can easily attain good positions when desired. Strength allows greater movement throughout all degrees of range of motion. An MMA fighter doesn’t often do yoga because being able to achieve a certain range of motion is not the same as being effective within that range of motion.
Bone density improves in response to strength training (Layne, Nelson, 1999). Denser bones are a benefit to the athlete and a massive benefit to the aging population. Broken hips, spinal injuries, and other fractures can cause premature death. After a hip fracture the average person will only live another six years. (Trombetti et al., 2002).
Strength for the above mentioned reasons and more is instrumental in quantity and quality of life. Simply measuring grip strength as an indicator of strength correlates with life expectancy (Leong et al., 2015). Quality of life is always a subjective matter but I am certain that the functional use of your own body is important. I for one highly value my physical ability to be independent. I value my ability to do be able to do anything that I wish without limitations due to inactivity and weakness. I take care of my body and it takes care of me. I urge you to do the same.
Aesthetics are best improved through resistance training. Let’s address this first, there is no such thing as a tone muscle or a long and lean muscle. Muscles grow and muscles are defined or not based upon body fat. You want a full rounded butt, non-flabby upper arms, abdominals, a superhero chest and shoulders; strength train. Most people want to look like an athlete if given the choice. Athletes look that way because they are strong and lean. Good thing that strength aids in both of those. But I do not want to be bulky? First off most it doesn’t happen overnight and most people do not have the work ethic, drive, and dedication to achieve that sort of look. Secondly, the ultra large over-muscled magazine figures are on steroids and I assume you are not taking those. Yes the women too, women who are over-muscled with man faces are on steroids and that look cannot happen with normal biology. More on women to come in part two.
Weight training is instrumental in weight loss. Muscle is significantly more metabolically active the fat is. In order to end the cycle of losing weight only to gain it back due to slowed metabolic activity, the goal needs to be to create the greatest retention of muscle while losing fat. This is where heavy resistance training is very beneficial. More to come in a future article. Ultimately your desired physique is probably best served with a healthy dose of heavy iron and proper nutrition rather than slaving over the treadmill.
Finally I would like to address the importance of strength in the athlete. A stronger athlete is a better athlete. Strength is the foundation of performance and improves stamina, mobility, power, speed, coordination, agility, and balance. A stronger athlete hits harder, recovers faster, jumps higher, sprints faster, and gets injured less often. Strength improves economy of motion and therefore can benefit endurance athletes as well. Every athlete is a better athlete if they become stronger.
Arguably the most important attribute of athletics, excluding endurance sports, is power production. Power is the ability to display strength rapidly. Two linemen sprint off of the line and collide. The more powerful linemen out accelerates the other hitting with more momentum and reaches his peak force before the other. The less powerful linemen is completely overwhelmed before he can display his ability and gets demolished. Power is reliant upon force production and the easiest way to improve power is as you guessed… getting stronger. A seven hundred pound deadlifter will always be more powerful than a four hundred pound deadlifter.
Strength is your hard earned evolutionary right and does not discriminate based upon age, weight, gender, or race. Everyone can benefit from becoming stronger. Strength is in everyone! Stay tuned for part two: Women in Strength Training.
Author: Jordan Stanton