In last months Newsletter we broke down 15 fundamental principles regarding Fat Loss or Body Composition change as it relates to Nutrition. This month we want to dive into the “Training” side of things to share some fundamental ideas behind Strength Training.
Clearly, you know it’s good for you and is one of the main reasons you come to see us here at Catalyst. But what is really going on when we lift and what are the other benefits besides the obvious physical (and mental) changes that come about from it?
“Strength Training” is a very common recommendation that you’ll hear from fitness professionals (like your favorite coaches at Catalyst!), doctors, Physical Therapist’s, and practically anyone who is in the health and fitness space.
What are they really referring to?
Sadly, there is still a lot of confusion and misinformation surrounding this. Outside of experienced Health and Fitness Professionals (Personal Trainers, Strength & Conditioning Coaches, PT’s, Chiropractors and Athletic Trainers) most are terrible at understanding, explaining, and teaching strength training.
Our goal with this months article is to present a (brief) overview of how the body works, what “strength” is, and how to discern between sensible information and the sneaky marketing that’s out there confusing and tricking many people.
The first thing to understand is that Gravity has an enormous effect on how well we move and affects every aspect of movement.
The forces of gravity are constantly pulling us down and something we have to fight against when pursuing improvement in our movement.
To move well, we have to control our skeletal frame. We have muscles, tendons, and ligaments that attach to the skeleton.
Our skeleton has a structure of joints and the muscles attach to the bones that create the joints.
Our muscles can contract and extend. Another way of thinking about that is that they can shorten and lengthen. These “movements” are what enables our bodies to move…which brings us to our second principle.
2. Movement Training = Strength Training
When you are in the gym, you are training your body to move. With lifting weights of any kind, you are applying extra gravity to the body, and this strengthens the muscles and energy systems to make you stronger, more efficient, more coordinated, and simply better at moving your body while fighting the effects of gravity (and then some).
You cannot move without muscles.
As such, training the muscles to be stronger, the energy systems to supply more energy, and the brain to be more coordinated, these are the cornerstone’s of every training method ever created.
Every type of training you do trains those three overlapping systems, and all the other systems in the body as well (endocrine, lymphatic, etc)
Strength training is a total body endeavor. While you can specialize it in many ways, all specializations and modifications has the same root cause; you are trying to improve your overall ability to MOVE.
If there is one thing that you take away from this whole piece it is the above statement. Don’t ever forget this.
This is why the questions of “what’s a good exercise” is usually a bad question.
Exercises are very context specific, and when someone asks this, it is usually a novice trainee that does not yet have an understanding of movement and how it works. Movement is the one thing that is universal to EVERY body on earth.
No matter your race, gender, size, every person is going to need to learn, master and perform the same fundamental movements in any workout they do.
What does change is how you customize those fundamentals to YOUR specific body type.
“Good” exercises are contextual to what you are trying to train. Barbell squats are “good” for maximal strength training, but not so “good” for athletic strength endurance.
Rather than think in term of “good/bad”, assess exercises from a perspective of Effectiveness and Appropriateness.
-Is this exercise effective relative to what my desired training outcome is?
-Is this exercise appropriate to perform, given the current state of my body?
These are the questions we are always asking ourselves when we train all of our clients at Catalyst and the question any Fitness Professional should ask themselves when training clients.
The Different “Kinds” of Strength Training
Strength training can mean A LOT of different things depending on who you talk to.
The biggest principle, in my opinion, to understand and cut through a lot of BS and misinformation is this:
Strength means to be “strong” at something. It is not confined solely to how much WEIGHT you can lift.
I say this because many times I have seen “fitness professionals” argue and try to come up with their own, incomplete, and quite honestly straight up wrong definitions.
While for the general public strength training largely means “bigger muscles, heavy weights” for us as coaches there are multiple method and qualities we are always assessing. And all of them can be trained!
Now on to the list…
Hypertrophy Training (Submaximal Strength)
Explosive Strength (Power)
Agility (not quite Strength training but an important aspect of a well rounded program)
Stay tuned for next months newsletter where we dive into exactly how you can train all of these qualities and how we incorporate into your training here at Catalyst!