“Lose 50 pounds of flab in 10 weeks!”
“lose 6 inches of your waist in 6 weeks!”
“gain upto 10 pounds of lean muscle in 8 weeks!”
“add 2 inches to your arms!”
No I am not an advertising for any supplement as you might suspect at this point. I am trying to give you an idea of the type of catchlines that are used by people to sell their products and services. Some of the ads do deliver what they promise, whereas the rest just promise. The important thing to note is that in most of the health and fitness advertisements you will notice there is very little that is said in terms of strength gain. Sure there are some advertisements that offer to help in improving strength, but most talk about some sort of change in terms of physical measurements.
Why I am I talking about strength? If you want a simple answer then let me just tell you that being strong could probably be the most important factor in helping you achieve most of your physical goals. It is also very vital in terms of being healthy. A body that is weak in appearance is never attractive and neither is it healthy. Ever found an old man or woman with a weak and crouching body due to old age sexy? I am sure no and thats exactly my point! Of course lets not forget the potential of getting injured. A weak body is far more likely to get injured than a strong body simply because a strong body can withstand physical punishment much better.
Now before I proceed I must remind you that strength is not something that you can have simply by wishing for it. It is something that you work for and achieve. Even if you are very strong do not take it for granted that you will be so forever. Work hard to build or maintain your strength, it is not something to be avoided in your training program. I do however realize that most of you out there will not be motivated to train solely for strength. Unless strength training helps fulfill some other purpose you will not want to focus a lot on it. Well keeping that in mind let me discuss some of the cases where you MUST focus on getting stronger to achieve your goals.
Fat loss-you must thinking, am I mad? Is’nt it better to do circuits and high reps for fat loss? Training for strength while trying to get lean makes no sense, right? Well let me share with you a little history. A few decades ago aerobics for fat loss was THE way to go according to most experts and media. Thus everyone wanting to lose fat hopped onto cycles, treadmills, and stepper in hopes of losing fat. These equipments got them some results, but in most cases it did not provide major results. Most trainees lost about 5-10 pounds or so and then hit a plateau (I guess at this point some of you might be feeling that it is exactly what happened to you too).
In the last few years a lot of trainers have developed a very successful business with small studios where there are no or just 1-2 cardio equipments. Yet they mostly specialize in fat loss! So what do they use? They use strength training in various forms like traditional weights, bodyweight, kettlebells. etc. Does that sound like a new fitness studio that’s just opened in your neighborhood? Well it just might be, cause such training centres often deliver great results for fat loss clients. To help you understand why let me tell you that strength training is vital in raising your total metabolism, including resting metabolism. Yes you actually burn more calories even when you are resting after strength training, this helps you get much leaner than doing only aerobics.
Now you might have been doing what you perceive as strength training using 2 kilo dumbbells and just the empty bar till now and have been failing to get any results. Personal Strength Training Well in that case let me tell you that you have been failing to see the results because the weight that you are using is too insignificant for your body to consider any need for losing fat. Its only when you progressively lift heavier weights that you will start to see the fat melt. Now before you start freaking out let me assure you that I am not talking about lifting weights like an Olympic weight lifter. I am simply referring to lifting the heaviest weights possible within your capacity. Yes the circuits and supersets are great for fat loss, but only when there is a significant weight involved. Thus you must build strength to ensure that you can lift respectable weights during your fat loss circuits. Simply lifting 1-2 kilo dumbbells will not help much forever.
Mass gain- I agree that most people trying to gain mass do try to increase their strength. However there are some that are so focused on the “pump”,taking each muscle group to absolute failure, and hitting it from all angles possible that they ignore trying to get stronger on basic lifts. Look at the bench press, squat, and deadlift numbers of all great big bodybuilders and you will notice that they all lift real heavy weights to build their bodies. Obviously there is no way that you will lift weights near their capacity, unless you are strong. Thus even if pure size is your goal, strength development must not be ignored.
Athletes- athletes need to fast, flexible and agile. Muscular endurance is more important than sheer muscular strength. I am sure that you must have heard athletic coaches say this often. My question to you is this, if you feel that muscular endurance is the most vital factor then what are you trying to endure- low levels of strength? I hope not! Without adequate strength muscular endurance is worthless. Imagine if you could kick a football 500 times a day, but could not kick it far then will all that endurance help? Thus even if you are an athlete you must ensure that you have adequate levels of strength before trying to think of muscular/strength endurance.
General fitness- some of you might not require any fat loss/muscle gain and certainly are’nt athletes. So you want to train for general fitness and want to ensure that you never have a chronic disease like diabetes, hypertension, etc. A lot of popular media channels might have told you how walking 3-6 times a week for 30 minutes is enough for general fitness levels. If you have been brainwashed into believing so then let me awake you to the reality and tell you that simply walking is NOT enough to be the healthiest that you can be. Strength training is equally if not more important to prevent chronic diseases. Tell me what is the image that you have of old age in your mind? I am sure that it must be someone weak who needs a walking stick and crouches. Maybe even needs others to help them get up from bed. What do you think is lacking in this picture. Obviously physical strength! One of the best ways to fight old age is strength training.