A Question of Strength
Strength training is often the most praised or the most ridiculed method of training in the facility that I am in. For the ones for it, it is an absolute essential for any goals looking to be hit whether it is fat loss, muscle building, or even from the corrective standpoint. For those against it and I interact with a lot of them, it is barbaric and we are going to pay for it in the long run. I often catch myself explaining a lot of the training that apply both on myself and the people that I work with and a lot of it is defending myself then the reps begin to drop and the weight goes up. Why not put it on paper.
First off, one of the big topics that I defend with lifting for strength training is that it will make an individual big and dysfunctional. In reality, strength training to me is not the ability of packing as much muscle as humanly possible. It is about becoming as efficient as humanly possible in your own skin.While muscular development plays a role in the establishment of strength, it is terms such as mobility, stability, and neuromuscular coordination that will be the backbone of developing strength. Not so much constructing a physique that forces you to walk through a narrow hallway sideways. Some of the strongest people I know do not look the part by any means and they are also some of the most versatile people that I have encountered.
Is strength training dangerous? It certainly can be. Especially if it is applied poorly. However I would not put it on any scale of danger compared to not training for strength. I also believe that the term strength training gets taken out of context. For the people that I work with there are all kinds of methods of strength training. For some it is to work up to a personal best squat or deadlift. For others it may be in order to restore posture, activate muscles that have been dormant, or restore bone density. This requires a stress on muscles, bones, and connective tissue in order for them to respond and get stronger. Strength training? Absolutely. Danger? I bet they will tell you otherwise.
Too Young Too Old?
When I was twelve we had a Coast Guard Academy where I used to spend a lot of time playing basketball or swimming. They also had a weight room and I remember being extremely disappointed because they would not let me in until I was sixteen. While at twelve I probably would have killed myself in there, the main reason was that weight training at the time was horrible for the growth of youth. It is refreshing knowing that this mindset is beginning to shift and strength training is becoming part of youth training once again. The idea of a thirteen year old girl blowing an ACL on the soccer pitch used to be unheard of. Now it is an epidemic and it is usually a result of strength imbalances and a lack of mobility, stability, and neuromuscular coordination. If growth development in youth is a concern, I would be a little more worried about the stranglehold that spending hours in a computer or chair or on a couch can put on growth. Too old? I have an uncle who is a family doctor dealing with a lot of aging patients. His approach? Move it or lose it. Developing and maintaining strength in the older population has too many benefits to list so I will keep it simple. Take the effects that aging has on physical performance and strength training can backtrack the majority of them. In the gym, it is not so much of the physical transformation, but the rediscovered feeling of youth that occurs in the older population that I train.
Why I Like It
Lifting heavy is my favorite part of exercise. To me it is almost a yoga like feeling as it gives you the chance to think and feel your body at work. It gives me a chance to feel the influence that striking my feet into the floor has on the rest of my body. I love the way that it has me thinking about moving my hips, engaging my posture, using my torso, breathing, and how it makes me coordinate all of these aspects and have them work in harmony to finish a lift. I have seen a lot of benefit from this when it comes to my overall coordination, function, and for some of the non believers, my movement and metabolic conditioning.
To me, strength training can and should be a part of anyone's programming in whatever capacity is required and when it is applied and applied accordingly the benefits will stomp all over the liabilities.