Updated: May 16, 2022
If increased strength is correlated with reduced risk of injury, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even risk of death, then how in the world do we get stronger?
Isn’t Everyone Strengthening? Strength training is something that everyone believes they are doing if they moved their body with extra weight on it. To anyone who is exercising, I would applaud them for taking the time to try to make their body more resilient. We are all busy people, so taking some time out of their day to increase the potential longevity of health is an achievement in and of itself. In this regard, it would make sense to optimize every training session so that you get the biggest return on your investment. Optimization of training starts with a strategy that will enhance strength, since strength has been found to build a barrier to disease. In order to create strength, you need to load the body in a specific way to produce an actual change. Two Myths Now the two most common responses I get from anyone when talking about strength training are; “I don't want to injure myself” or, “I’m not strong enough to lift heavy weights”. There seems to be this belief that strength training is inherently dangerous and you must be strong to strength train. Well here is the truth: strength training is safer than running. I know it's crazy, but annually, there are far more injuries from running than strength training when we look at injuries per training hours. Culturally, we look at running as a great, safe activity that anyone can do. In reality, strength training is safe, effective and everyone of every age should do. An Example So, if it is so safe, then how do we do it? Strength training is specific for every single person and their current ability. We used to believe that it required movements with low reps and high load, this remains true. We also see that there is some evidence for strength gains when we achieve muscular failure, no matter the weight. What does this mean? Let's do an example; we have a 30 year old male who started doing squats to build his strength. He comes to us saying that he has been doing 3 sets of 50 while holding 10lb dumbbells. So is he strengthening? We really have no clue until we see how many reps he can do at that weight to failure. If he could do 150 reps before failing, then he isn’t achieving strength returns. If he can only do 52, then he is likely doing strength training. This is where we say strength training is specific for each person's current abilities. As he gets stronger he either has to do more reps or increase the weight. A Better Way
As much as the example above highlights how strength training can look different for a lot of people, it doesn’t mean that is the most effective way to gain strength. If he could do 150 reps with 10lb dumbbells, it would take a long time to achieve failure compared to if he put 150 lbs on a barbell and then did squats. When we load the body heavier towards its strength potential, it requires much less repetitions in order to achieve failure. Sure he could hold 80lb dumbbells in his hands and do the squats, but it is much more comfortable and safe to use the barbell. The only reason why the barbell feels unsafe is because society says it is. In reality it is the most effective tool to achieve actual strength. It is well suited for everyone of all ages, and it will optimize strength gains better than anything else. Let us at The Health Lab show you how to use this powerful tool to produce sustainable real health.