Strength training has become more popular now than it has ever been, but there are still some misconceptions that we have about strength training. Some people still believe that strength training can make you big and bulky, make you immobile, and can cause injury. These are old beliefs that still linger, in which gives strength training a bad name. Let’s dive into some of the benefits that strength training can do for us.
In order to begin, let me clarify what I mean when I say “strength training”. Strength training (in our facility) revolves around the aspect of 7 big movements which is, lower body pushing/pulling, upper body horizontal pushing/pulling, upper body vertical pushing/pulling, single leg work, mobility, and trunk (abdominal exercises revolving around carrying, anti-rotation, stabilization, anti-extension). These are the premises of what we do, we work on big movements not muscles. The reason we use movements over muscles is that no muscle works alone, every action is carried over by another, if we are able to train the movement and get more muscles engaged we get a greater training effect from the fact that more muscles are being activated.
Stronger Muscles: Strength training can help you build stronger muscles, having stronger muscles can help with everyday activities. Think about the times you were unable perform a task because you didn’t have the strength for it. An example would be carrying garbage to the dumpster or moving some boxes around at home, this could even mean walking upstairs. When we are able to add in strength training, our day to day tasks become easier because the muscles are stronger.
We are also able to reduce the chances of an injury, injuries sometimes occur when certain muscles are asked to do a task and cannot complete it, so they ask another group of muscles to help that usually wouldn’t. Max Shank talks about “pissing off the neighbors” in which he describes this as “if you have an imbalance of muscle tension or strength on opposite sides of a joint, it will get pulled out of its ideal position–which increases the risk of injury and decreases performance”. In another word, being able to develop strength in the muscles will allow them to become stronger and function in their intended way.
Lean Muscle Mass: When we strength train we are adding more lean muscle mass to our body. We are able to become leaner and lose more body fat with the newfound muscle mass we have developed. Adding lean muscle mass means to have growth within the cells that equals an enlargement of the tissue. Having more muscle mass requires your body to use more energy, this means our metabolism increases as well because we are needing to feed our bodies more food to sustain this newfound muscle growth. Getting to eat more and get leaner, who wouldn’t want that?!
Carrying around more muscle mass is a good thing to have, these denser tissues now protect our ligaments and tendons even more, which is great for injury prevention. Having lean muscle mass does not mean looking like a body builder, it means to reduce the amount of body fat we have around these muscles. Denser muscles protect our body from harm, evidence shows us that going into a surgery with prior strength training equals a quicker recovery.
Reduction in injuries: Strength training has the ability to help us reduce injury as mentioned above, there is a common phrased called “Injury Prevention” in regards to reduction of injuries. The only issue is we cannot prevention injury, we can only reduce the exposure of it, no matter how much prevention you do sometimes injuries do occur. Strength training allows us to work on exercises that helps us with correcting asymmetries in the body that sometimes can be the cause of pain or can lead to injuries. These asymmetries are common with almost everyone, whether it be from repetitive motions with your body or from past injuries, there are underlining issues that we are not made aware of until we are made notice of these differences within the body.
When you are stronger, your joints become healthier and also the body becomes more mobile as well. An old belief about weight training was that if you are strength training you will become muscle bound and it would reduce your mobility. This is not the case anymore, if you are training properly you should see an increase in the range of motion in your joints. Weight bearing exercises also allows for us to build stronger bones, when we add strength training to our regimen our bones become denser. When the muscles become stronger they are quicker to engage and less likely to fatigue, this is how we can reduce the exposure to injuries.
Strength training is not just for the young or those who are wanting to become power lifters. Being strong is not about how much weight you can move or how many pull ups you can do, it’s about how you can make your life better. Strength has a greater purpose than just being strong, it allows us to live healthier lives. Hopefully this can give you a clearer idea as to what true strength training can do for you.