You may be under the impression that strength training is not important. You may think that strength training is only for people who compete or participate in sports. Only top athletes should be worried about strength training, right? Why should any regular person who works a regular nine to five job need to worry about being strong? Isn't it just for people who are vain and want to attract attention from their social media followers? Yes, obviously athletes of all levels are going to participate in strength training, and yes, there are vain people who use their social media platforms to satisfy their followers. However, I firmly believe that every person who is capable should engage in strength training. Aside from looking good with your clothes off, there are many benefits to slapping on some wrist wraps and pressing some iron. Developing strength improves your health and makes your a better, more productive person.
Being Strong is Healthier
Strength is a subjective word. There are going to be varying levels of strength from person to person. For most people, strength capabilities and limitations are limited or dictated by their natural body build. So, a 6’8” strongman is obviously going to be stronger than someone who is 5’5”. However, just because it’s not likely to ever be as strong as a professional strongman, that should not deter anyone from pursuing strength. Gaining strength will make you a healthier person. Being stronger means a person is able to do more outside of the gym. It’s easier to push that lawn mower. Picking up that sledge hammer becomes easier. Running around with a bunch of crazy kids won’t be so exhausting. Being stronger makes the strenuous daily habits less painful. Having a good base of strength will also reflect positively at the next check up with the doctor. Combined with proper nutrition, strength training helps reduce body fat, blood pressure, heart rate and improve many other health markers used to measure a person’s overall well being. As people age and approach their elderly years, one of the biggest concerns doctors have with their patients is their strength and muscular atrophy. If you have spent any time in the gym, I can almost guarantee there will be a frail, skinny elderly person attempting to lift weights because their doctor says it is necessary to maintain health. People who have made it a habit to engage in strength training reduce their chances of many illnesses and extend the longevity of their physical capabilities throughout their life. Sure, a seventy year old will not be able to do what was done at twenty years old, but the seventy year old who has trained for fifty years will be much better off than the seventy year old who did not.
“But my doctor says that lifting weights is bad for the joints.” You hear that one from doctors a lot. Doctors are very good at treating illness and helping people stay healthy from a medical standpoint. However, many, if not most doctors don’t have a lot of knowledge about strength training and how the human body can perform at high levels. LIfting weights is not bad for the joints of the body. Lifting weights with poor technique is bad for the joints of the body. Like anything else, lifting weights is an acquired skill that takes time to learn. As a person learns and gets stronger, the health of the joint will improve. As muscles get bigger and stronger, so do the ligaments and tendons that connect those muscles to the bones and joints of the body, thus making the joint stronger and healthier, especially as people age. Is it possible to be injured because of strength training? The answer is yes. As a person gets stronger and is capable of lifting more weight, the risk of injury increases. There are many people who compete in powerlifting, weightlifting and strongman who have a list of injuries. That should not deter anyone from doing what is necessary to be strong and healthy. If you are not interested in competing, then you do not have to overly worry about the risk that comes with pushing the human body past its limitations. It is fairly easy to develop and maintain a solid base of strength injury free for the duration of one’s life as long as they practice good technique. I personally, and many people that I associate with like the idea of being able to push past limitations. That does not mean that you must do the same, and it certainly does not mean that you are not welcomed in our facility. We strive to create a place for anyone who wants to become a stronger and healthier person.
“But what about running and cardio health?” Cardio development is also important to the health and wellbeing of everyone. I could stand to ride my bike more often, if I am being honest. A well balanced exercise program will incorporate strength and some form of cardio. However, as we age the largest concern that seems to be prevalent in the medical community is our strength and muscular development. I will certainly not tell someone to stop running or give up training for marathons if that is what they enjoy, but I will advise that it is optimal to have at least a base level of strength and muscle development.
Strength Training Builds Discipline
To have success on your journey to being a stronger person, there is a required level of discipline. Like anything else in life, the decisions a person makes affects just about everything. The daily habits and decisions directly affect the progress of a strength training program. Doing what is necessary to be a healthy and strong individual will cultivate and strengthen one’s resolve to lead a more disciplined life. Discipline is a word that oftentimes has negative meanings behind it. You may associate the word “discipline” with punishment. The true meaning of the word has little to do with punishment. It has much more to do with the small decisions we make everyday. It is necessary to eat a proper diet to continue progress in the gym. It is necessary to get enough sleep and rest to recover from the stimulation generated by the various exercises. It is necessary to reduce the amount of alcohol and tobacco use if anyone wants to accomplish and maintain progress in the gym. It is necessary to consistently train on the days that a strength program mandates. If a person practices and improves discipline in regards to their strength training program, it is likely that the discipline will bleed into other areas of their life. For example, a person might find themselves being on time for work more often. Or they may find themselves not staying up all night on the weekends. Or they may see that they get more chores done and responsibilities satisfied in their daily lives. Discipline is a practice that bleeds into everything we do. Any reputable military leader who has seen success on the battlefield has instilled a high level of discipline in their troops. For example, they may require that their troops be clean shaven, their uniforms be well maintained and their quarters be clean. They also demand a high level of discipline among their troops during training exercises. The idea is that during the most difficult and perilous times of war, their hard forged discipline is what will keep them fighting and see victory. Leaders such as Napoleon Bonaparte, George Patton and David Hackworth strongly believe and promote that their hardened sense of discipline is what lead to great military success on the battlefield. While most of us are not fighting a war, it is not too difficult to see how a high level of discipline would greatly increase one’s odds of success. Having discipline does not mean being rigid and cold. It simply means doing the little things right all the time, so that we may be able to accomplish our larger goals even when times are hard. As Jocko Willink famously repeats all the time, “Discipline equals freedom.” All that means is that being disciplined and taking care of all of our responsibilities everyday, gives us the freedom to do the things we enjoy and accomplish our goals.
Being Strong Maintains Individuality and Independence
I will not dive too deeply into political convictions, but I personally believe that strength training and being a strong and capable person is what allows us to live in a free society. It seems that there is a large push for people to become ever more dependent on the government and infrastructure in our society. While I certainly enjoy the modern conveniences and liberties that are bestowed upon us as Americans, I am aware that there are forces that directly or indirectly work to make us subjugated. I firmly believe that the more capable and stronger that people are, the more likely they are able to live their lives as they see fit. If a person is weak and easily able to be controlled, that person will be controlled. If a person is strong, then that person is much less likely to be controlled. On a less grand stage, the same can apply at an individual level. There are many people in the world that are bullies. They like to push people around and have them conform to their own personal ideologies. They are much less likely to do so to someone who is able to stand up for themselves. I also believe that striving towards the common goal of being stronger and more capable actually has a tendency to bring people together. Our gym has many different people from various walks of life. Because of our common interest in becoming healthier and stronger, we work together without conflict. People who may never associate with each other work together and push each other to accomplish great things. It is a humbling experience to witness. We are all individuals with our own opinions and beliefs, yet we all work together to be better. Through strength, we have created bonds of friendship and have opened channels of constructive communication about many things. The only thing we require that is non-negotiable is to show respect for everyone.
What Style of Strength Training Should One Use?
There are several training modalities out there that are designed to increase strength. Powerlifters train to be the best at the bench press, back squat and deadlift. Strongmen and women train to be proficient with various implements in their respective competitions. Weightlifters train to be the best at the snatch and clean and jerk. Crossfitters train to do….everything. Each field of competition has various methods and modalities to train for their respective sport. If you are an individual that wants to compete or recreationally participate, then you will need to use a program designed to accomplish that. However, that does not mean it is necessary to participate in any of that to improve your strength. Barbell training is the most efficient in terms of developing strength and power. However, it is not the only way to improve strength. There are many good strength programs that use dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells or even just bodyweight to develop, improve and maintain strength. The question that you must ask yourself is, “ What are your goals, and how do you want to get there?” The answer to that question will dictate which avenue you take. One of the good things that came with the explosion of social media and the internet is the availability of information and direct contact with strength coaches and personal trainers. There are thousands of well designed strength programs that are easily accessible. Take some time to analyze various programs, and pick the one that you like the most.
Understanding how a strength program is designed can be a little tricky sometimes. In that case, it is recommended that you consult someone who can help you train. If that is you and you live in the Baton Rouge area, then you should check out the Atlas Strength Shop. There you will meet people who have experience in strength training and can help you reach your goals. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your next visit to the Atlas Strength Shop. If you would like to keep up with us, like us on Facebook here, or follow us on Instagram here. If you need a good source of energy to kickstart your workouts, visit veteran owned strikeforceenergy.com and use promo code ATLASSTRENGTH to get 20% off of your order.
On October 30, 2021, the Atlas Strength Shop will be hosting its second annual strongman competition, the Rougarou Classic. If you are interested in competing, check out the event page on Facebook here, or visit ironpodium.com for registration information. If you are a business owner looking to expand your services to a new clientele, send an email to email@example.com for sponsorship opportunities.
“Stop researching every aspect of it and reading all about it and debating the pros and cons of it … Start doing it.” -Jocko Willink