Strong is the New Sexy

In the mainstream fitness media, strength is not a "sexy" buzzword. I think people are more aware of the general importance of strength a bit more than ten years ago (when we didn’t have the youtubes and the instachats and whatnot) but it's always less sexy or attention grabbing then toning, losing weight, turning your metabolism into a raging inferno etc. My point is, it doesn't sell magazines.

However, regardless of your fitness goal, whether it's lowering your body fat percentage, gaining muscle, being a better athlete or just improving your quality of life (baby boomers I'm looking at you), strength is the key ingredient to making that engine go.

What do I mean by "strength"? Scientifically speaking (Yes, science! I'm very smart) the term is progressive overload.

Progressive overload, put simply, means we want to be able to do more than you could before. We want to get you from lifting, say, your bodyweight for 10 reps on a squat to doing your bodyweight plus an extra 95lb for those same 10 reps.

That extra 95lb, provided you still use excellent form, gives us a bonafide way to track and quantify your improvement. I don't care who you are or what your goal is, this WILL make you better and those goals that much easier to achieve.

Looking to lose body fat?  Awesome! Getting stronger will help you tremendously and has a slew of benefits.

1) It will help you put on muscle. Not like a bodybuilder (Well, actually it's exactly like that but bodybuilding is this concept taken to an extreme) but in a functional, healthy way. Muscle weighs about 1/6 (ish) of what fat does and helps your body burn a lot more calories, even at rest.

fat vs muscle

And before I freak out some of you about putting on muscle, think of a hamburger when you throw it on the grill - when the fat melts off and all that's left is the lean meat, is it bigger or smaller? Hopefully you said smaller or I have no idea what you're cooking.

2) Now that we're stronger, when we are doing our conditioning or HIIT (high intensity interval training - think group fitness classes) we can use higher weights, do more reps of bodyweight exercises and generally work at a higher intensity. Which leads to - you guessed it, more calories burned. Nifty, right?

Conversely, say we have an endurance athlete, a runner or triathlon... er? I don't know what the correct term is. (Edit: Triathlete. It's triathlete)


Getting Stronger Will:

1) Make them more resistant to injury. Strength training increases not only strength of the muscles but the tendons and ligaments as well. Running (I'm picking on this sport for a minute) has a much higher injury rate than people think, I believe somewhere around 70% off the top of my head. There is a ton of force going through your joints with each stride (up to 8x your bodyweight) and the tissues must be strong enough to absorb this pounding (mobile enough too, but that's for another post). A stronger muscle is a more a more durable muscle. Period.

2) Strength = speed. In layman's terms, when we get stronger we're adding more horsepower to the engine. While the bulk of endurance training should be dedicated to building said endurance, being faster will obviously only help you whether you're running a race or desperately trying to out swim a shark, which I assume happens regularly in triathlons.

And my final example:

The elderly. With all due respect of course.

Strong Grandma
While I'm not going to sit here and tell you that getting stronger will make you live longer, I can absolutely, 100% guarantee that getting stronger will vastly improve the quality of your life in those years.

The number one physical indicator of quality of life in elderly populations? Grip strength. One of the best indicators of overall body strength? The grip. Follow where I'm going with this?

A proper strength program can be the difference between getting up off the ground yourself or not at all. Living on your own or in long term care.

If you listen to nothing else I say (In which case you and my wife would get along great. Ba-zing!), it's this - while I truly believe there's no one who wouldn't benefit from this, it's the elderly population that stands to really gain the most by doing some form of resistance training.

This doesn’t mean heavy deadlifts or bench pressing, it can be as simple as bodyweight squats from a chair. But the carryover to real life is enormous.

Now that I’ve hammered this point into your head, I realize this might seem to be a daunting task for some. Honestly though, I’m sure you’ve done a lot harder things in your life. Getting stronger requires no talent, the bar for entry is quite low.

Everyone is capable of getting stronger.

Whether you're brand new to fitness or you've been doing lots of cardio, group fitness classes or something along those lines for years, I'd highly encourage you to either start hitting those weights either on your own or with a trainer.

If you do decide that working with a trainer might be right for you, please contact us at Infinite Fitness. We have a great intro offer of $149 for 3 sessions that lets you get a taste of what we do here, and a great team (including this brilliant, handsome, once in a generation writer) who would love to help you.

As much as that might seem like a shameless plug, I honestly wish I could have had someone to guide me earlier as it would have accelerated my progress by literally years.

So what are you waiting for? Go get stronger! Never again be defeated by a pickle jar!

Article Written by Karl Gellert, CSEP
Personal Trainer at Infinite Fitness


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