A common myth is that strength training is only for athletes, body builders or those who want to get really big muscles. That is false. Strength training is an essential part of being a human. It is essential because of how convenient, easy and sedentary our lifestyles have become. We were once a species of homo sapiens that had to walk, run, climb, crawl, stalk, hunt, forage and fight for any and everything we had. We used to be confronted with the dangers of the environment i.e. too hot or too cold of temperatures that forced us also to be builders or to be nomads our entire life. Now, our world is nothing like that. We work at desks or behind computers, perhaps on phones for the most part, we buy food from stores and often the wrong kinds and the demand for us to be physically powerful, strong or active is extremely low. So while the demands of our careers and lives have evolved quickly, our bodies have not. We are still designed to be strong, to be movers and to chase the benefits that come along with those traits both physically and mentality.
The cause for strength
Foundationally we are built with bones and ligaments/ tendons, but what moves those bones is muscle. The bigger and stronger we make the muscles the faster and stronger we can move our bodies. We also know that from a metabolism standpoint that the more muscle mass we carry the more efficiently our metabolism seems to be regulated. In the case of pursuing strength, we always want to be as strong as we can, this doesn’t mean we need to be as big as we can get. There is a point of diminished returns if you get too big with muscles. Muscles cost us energy and oxygen and when we carry too much, it demands a ton of calories from protein and carbohydrates. And as our bodies get heavier they can become slow if we aren’t training properly as we gain our strength and size. So every human needs to simply have the understanding that you don’t have to get really big in order to get really strong. While we can expect some growth in muscle size as we pursue strength, you can expect that if your training and lifestyle and nutrition are all well rounded, your body won’t simply adapt by getting much bigger. Gaining muscle size is actually one of the hardest and most tedious pursuits in life.
You should train it, so how?
Start simple if you have no experience. Invest in a coach if you can, and if you’re reading this you likely can. Don’t be cheap with your health or fitness, it pays you everyday when you invest in it. You’ll get sick less, you’ll feel better, you’ll have more energy, you’ll sleep better, you’ll be happier, you’ll have or want more sex, you’ll be more successful at your job…ect. And these are just things we know from a very general perspective almost 10/10 for people that train regularly with guidance. That'll be a choice you have to make however, it may demand you eat out less to save up or that you drop a few subscriptions (oh no!).
Let me get down off my soap box for a moment (gets down). The reason I emphasize a coach so much is due to the fact that technique matters, and how else do you expect to learn? Often you can learn from watching videos and following a good program (I know a guy who can help you here if that’s you), but don’t go learn from the meat head at the gym who has no professional knowledge or experience teaching/ guiding others. Technique matters not just to keep you safe but also to help you maximize the rate of return on favorable adaptations. Technique helps you get what you want! It’s important to know how to set up properly on a machine, or move your body in space even before you add weight. Yes, it sounds boring but good things in life often demand a “start slow now, so you can move fast later” approach. Learn first, seek advice or pay for a coach.
Reps and sets and rest
If you hope to win the Crossfit Games or compete professionally in strongman like our man Maxime, or just look as big and as strong as him, then you probably need to follow a formal training plan. We have some really cool resources and programs for you to choose from in the TTRU Fitness programs (https://app.sugarwod.com/marketplace/ttru-fitness/all-access?preview=2aXC7OC9QW
But also if you have the desire to just be healthy and strong for your best day to day, then simply get started! Go into the gym and select some really basic movements such as bench press, back squat, walking lunge, and overhead press. Execute these lifts for 3-5 sets with 5-10 reps, and of course best form possible. Rest anywhere from 1:00 to 3:00, rest longer if you are going for heavy, heavy lifts so then you’ll be able to get the most out of every set. If you just want a great workout and you aren’t chasing a specific personal record then you can rest less to keep your heart rate up and raise the intensity of your training overall and include some metabolic/ cardio benefits too. The next day go in and pick some movements like deadlift, pull up, single leg romanian deadlift, bent over row. Execute these lifts for 3-5 sets with 5-10 reps and rest from 1:00-3:00 between sets. On the 3rd day go into the gym and hit some fun easy cardio of your preference for 30-45 minutes or more and add in some core work. Then day 4 and 5 simply repeat what you did earlier in the week. Do these very simple and vanilla routines for 8 weeks trying to add small amounts of weight to your working sets each week, you’ll see progress! This type of training is great for a beginner and someone more experienced may need a touch more variance in their movement selections and rest/ sets as well.
I’d give this type of prescription to my 80 year old grandparents or to my 5 year old son. Strength training is for everyone and you are designed to do it. Whether you decide to pursue physical dominance in sports or you simply want to be able to get off the floor without help until the day you die, you need to train strength. And the best day time to start was yesterday, so let’s go.
Train to Rise up.
- Coach Conway