When you make the commitment to become more physically fit, there lies a crossroads as to which route you will go. Spin classes? Bar method? Bodybuilding? Being a client of a personal trainer in West Los Angeles? Typically chosen in the one that speaks most to you. But will it really get you closer to your goals?
Goals can be categorized into 3 categories:
2. Movement (flexibility, sports specific, etc)
3. Overall health (get out of pain, decrease risk of pathology, etc)
Arguably, any goal can be placed within these three categories. However, there IS one category that encompasses all these goals, and training it will give you the quickest and longest lasting results.
And what type of training focuses on that?
Functional Strength Training
Let’s stay away from the classic idea of strength training, and into the current progressive model. The days of lifting the most weight while sacrificing technique are an idea of the past. The idea now is to get you moving as efficiently as possible, and as strong as possible, in every position you will encounter both in your sport and everyday life.
For example, if you have toddler, you’ll know that after a day of holding him/her, one side of your body is a lot more tired than the other. Injury loves asymmetry, and we want the most efficient position to hold that baby (which is typically also the strongest). If you partake in strength training, your imbalances will be addressed so you’ll stay out of pain, you’ll be stronger holding your child, and it will not be a big psychological burden to hold him/her.
“I thought spinning will give me shredded abs…my buddy does it and he’s ripped!” With all factors held constant (diet, rest, genetics), strength training blows all other training methods out of the water when it comes to physique enhancement. Why is this?
1. More metabolically taxing: when you’re put in a self limiting exercise, your CNS is working a lot harder as is your body. The two factors make the body work a lot harder, causing an increase in caloric expenditure. Also, you are putting on more lean muscle mass in the process, which is very metabolically active.
2. Balance within the body: one of the cornerstones of strength training is a good movement screening to see where your muscular and movement imbalances are. For example, if you have an extremely weak core, chances are you’ll have some sort of restriction at the hips and/or the shoulders. Not only will your posture be better, but all weak points will be brought up to par to even out the body.
3. Glutes!!! The foundation for any great strength training program addresses the glutes. This ties into physique enhancement as well (everybody like a nice firm butt), but also movement and overall health. With the glutes typically being the weakest link in the body’s chain, if we can make them the strongest (or at least up to par), your movements will be a lot cleaner and efficient, and your joint health will increase immensely.
Strength as a skill
If you understand how dangerous crash diets and exercise are, you’ll love the idea of building skill in the gym. Training your body is similar to building a house: you can make it look nice from the outside, but if it’s not built with skill it will eventually collapse. Take time and be mindful of your progress. Try to get better at different lifts (variations of the deadlift and squat are a great place to start) and training qualities. Just like any other skill building, it’s a process, and the harder and smarter you work at it, the quicker/better the results.