Strength training is for EVERYONE. Some people may argue that lifting heavy weights is dangerous. I’m here to argue that being “weak” is dangerous. (My one disclaimer-lifting heavy weights with poor technique and an unstable core can lead to injury and is not allowed at Training Ground Athletic)
There are no machines that can replace the fundamental movements of the squat, deadlift, and press. Using barbells forces you to engage your core and create tension. Sitting on a piece of fixed equipment at the gym does not.
At TGA, in our Group Strength Classes, we progress through a twelve (12) week strength cycle, rotating the three main lifts (back squat, deadlift, overhead press) We test your PR (Personal Record or PR = the most weight you can lift for one repetition) on one of the lifts at the end of each 12 week cycle.
So for example, if your current PR on the deadlift is 315 pounds, all your training numbers during that 12 week cycle will be based on a percentage of your PR. There are many programming models that I can use to get you stronger. Some work better than others. My job as a strength coach is to program your training in such a way that you continue to get stronger. I believe that there is a very fine line between getting stronger and getting injured. My job as a successful strength coach is to keep you “behind the line.” Some classes will be heavy lifting days while others will be programmed for higher volume of repetitions, while others for speed training where you will be lifting as fast as possible at a much lower percentage of your PR. At the end of the 12 weeks, weight will be added to your PR based on your technique, performance, and specific calculations that predict your new theoretical PR. Remember, improved mobility and technique lead to a stronger YOU!
While it certainly is fun to lift heavy weights and have your teammates cheer you on when you hit a new PR, your strength gains are not just for “show”, they need to carry over into “THE GAME OF LIFE”. We are all put in situations where our strength is tested, both mentally and physically. I am convinced that increasing your physical strength as you age will allow you to have a higher quality of life. Strength will always be an asset in your life, regardless if you are a runner, a high powered executive, a stay-at-home mom, or just someone who wants to look good!
While I hate these depressing statistics, the truth is we all lose lean muscle as we age. Research shows that strength starts to decline after 35 years of age. If you are under 35, you better start working harder and building up a nice strength reserve. If you are older than 35, sorry, but you have a lot of catching up to do. Getting stronger sure sounds a lot like investing for retirement! The earlier you start, the better………
One of my favorite benefits of strength training, especially heavy deadlifts and squats, is that it increases your hormonal release. This is why strength training is often referred to as the FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH!!! Increased endorphins, testosterone and growth hormone are a huge benefit to both men and women as we age. Training with machines just doesn’t give you that same type of hormonal surge. The lifts we perform at TGA not only help you gain lean muscle and release all those feel good hormones, but they also strengthen your ligaments, tendons, and bones. We’ve all seen hunched over, arthritic, frail, slow people shuffling along with their walkers. I’m always saddened when I see such a drastic loss of mobility and strength. Continue to squat, deadlift, and press for increased bone density and postural strength and that won’t happen to you!
I have been lifting weights since I was 12 years old and coaching since I was 18 so you can probably guess that I’m pretty passionate about strength training. The more I learn and work with elite strength coaches who are stronger and more knowledgeable than me, the more my passion grows. Recently I was told by one of the strongest powerlifters in the world that I should continue to lift for “esthetics” not sure if that was a compliment or a nice way of telling me that I’m not very strong by powerlifting standards! That comment made me so mad it reignited my flame to train harder and get stronger. It drove me to re-define my strength goals so that I train with a purpose again!!! Sometimes it’s ok to get a little mad in order to re-define your purpose. Your results are a reflection of how strongly you believe in your purpose and how committed you are to following the steps necessary to achieve your strength goals.
So why do YOU lift weights? What is your purpose for strength training? Be honest…. If we don’t know why we do what we do, how in the world do we plan to get where we want to go???