24 Jul Get Strong: The Shocking Truth About Strength.
After many years of weight training experience, I’ve discovered the truth about strength.
You see, as a young kid starting out over 3 decades ago, I admit I didn’t know the first thing about the real value and benefits of strength training.
Today it’s a totally different story.
I get it.
And, if you’re reading this, you probably “get it” too.
Unfortunately, not everyone does and that’s where I want to help.
There is still the perception with so many people that the gold standard in “fitness” is to have cardiovascular endurance.
In other words, many people naturally associate a high level of health and fitness (which are 2 separate things) to being able to run a marathon.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear this and I always ask, “how do you train for it, do you include any strength training in your preparation?”
More often than not, the answer is “no.”
Remember that will all things being equal, the stronger athlete always wins.
Just look at today’s top, elite athletes like Lebron James and Adrian Peterson as examples.
These are strong athletes that perform at the highest level and are the best in what they do.
This leads me to the shocking truth about strength training.
The truth is, we all need to be stronger, period, end of story.
Strength gives us more of everything else we want.
Endurance, on the other hand, does not.
Endurance training (cardiovascular conditioning) brings us only a piece of the health (and fitness) equation.
I very much respect the mental toughness and extreme physical capabilities of endurance athletes, without question.
But, strength gives us many more qualities of the things we want and need.
Here’s just 2 simple reasons why we all need to be stronger.
First, as we age, we LOSE muscle mass every year, unless we do something about it.
That’s right, our muscle mass starts to decline roughly after the age of 25.
We have to do everything humanely possible to prevent that from happening.
Do you want to lose muscle, become more fragile, and even “waste” away as you get older?
I sure don’t.
I want to be strong.
Out of all the physical qualities we could have, I choose strength above all else.
Strength to do more, to be more, and to become more.
How about you?
Resistance exercise (or strength training) is the way we can help to prevent our decline.
If there is a “fountain of youth,” it may just be that strength is that fountain.
Will being stronger prevent us from all diseases and disability?
Of course not, but it may help to “protect” us from those things.
There’s not one person that would not benefit from improving strength and muscle building.
Next, we lose joint mobility or joint health as we age, as well.
Just like minimizing the effects of muscle loss over the years, we need to minimize the effects of loss of mobility.
Our top goals should be to optimize our musculoskeletal system and to improve (or maintain) our physical potential.
Strength training and specifically, functional movement based training with barbells, kettlebells, bodyweight, and mobility exercises will help to minimize the negative effects of the loss of mobility and a long list of other benefits.
Listen, I’m not saying we all need to establish a “max” deadlift, although that would certainly be a huge benefit for many people to be very honest.
What I am saying is that by being stronger will help us all improve all the other things we want in life.
Being stronger will improve the quality of our lives.
The more strength we have, the more of everything else we have.
Again, I’ve been studying and applying strength training methods for over 3 decades and I have found this statement to be the absolute truth, it just took me some time to come to that powerful conclusion.
Helping more people understand the value of being strong is now my mission.
And, the most powerful reason to be stronger is cited in a landmark published research paper (BMJ, Association Between Muscular Strength and Mortality in Men: Prospective Cohort Study, Ruiz et al, July 2008, 337).
In this study with nearly 9000 men, aged 20 to 80, the authors found that muscular strength was significantly and inversely related to risk for death from all causes.
The bottom line is that the findings revealed that stronger men had a reduced risk for death and that strength training seemed to offer a protective benefit to the risk of death for all causes.
This is very powerful data and amazing research supporting the claim that “the strongest shall survive.”
Of course, like most studies, there are always limitations and further research is always warranted, however, the findings are still very impressive, but not surprising.
If you think about how improved strength helps us function at a higher level, feel better, perform better, and move better, it’s not surprising at all.
I mean, what does common sense tell you about being stronger?
If you have a physically strong person and a physically weak person, who is going to be better equipped to deal with the adversity, the challenges, and the punches that life throws at us almost on a daily basis?
Common sense tells us that the stronger person will overcome more than the weaker person.
Again, strength training gives us more qualities and makes us better in almost every way.
It is amazing that this simple concept is often missed and misunderstood.
Again, going back to what I mentioned earlier about the perception of “running a marathon” as being the mark of ultimate fitness.
Will running for a few hours give you more than the ability to deadlift *400 pounds?
I don’t think so, but I’d love to hear the argument. (*The 400 pounds is completely dependent on age, sex, and prior training experience standards. For a detailed deadlift standard assessment, SEE THIS CHART by Dr. Lon Kilgore, THANK YOU DR. KILGORE!)
Let’s not forget the extreme, chronic stress and high physical demands that running a marathon brings with it which is certainly not the pinnacle of health for our bodies.
Are there benefits to running a marathon?
Sure there are.
But, here’s what strength training brings us:
- muscle mass (hypertrophy)
- joint mobility
- functional movement skills
- stronger bones, joints, and connective tissue
- explosive power
- improved performance (athletic and day to day function)
- mental toughness
- cardiovascular benefits (depending on the program implemented)
- muscular endurance
- improved neuromuscular efficiency
- body composition changes
- improved technical skills
- prevention of muscle tissue loss
- optimizing hormonal function
- spinal strength and stability
- prevention of disease and functional decline
- prevention of illness
- motor skill development
- improved confidence, self esteem, and sense of well being
- improved cognitive function
- and I’m sure there’s many more that I leaving out here…
I think this list speaks volumes in the benefits of being stronger.
It’s a choice we all have.
Be strong or suffer the consequences.
Of course, strength training and optimizing many of the benefits on the list will only be as effective as having your nutrition in line, as well.
But, that’s a whole new discussion I’ll save for later.
Strength is king and I know you probably get that.
I’ll conclude this with the very powerful quote which sums up everything discussed here by Eric Cressey (who I believe is the originator of this quote and I recently had the pleasure to interview for the Podcast).
“Absolute strength is the glass, everything else is the liquid inside the glass. The bigger the glass, the more of everything else you can do.”
This article represents a message about the value of being strong.
If there is someone that you can think of that will benefit from this message, please share this with them and help me spread the word on strength.
Now, let’s go (safely) lift something heavy!
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PetePosted at 04:01h, 26 July
Great article Scott, I second everything you said there.
I may be wrong, but wasn’t the strength – glass analogy by Brett Jones?
ScottPosted at 09:06h, 26 July
Thanks for the comment.
Actually, I found out it came from Eric. When I spoke to Bret on the Podcast. He mentioned he heard Eric Cressey say that in a presentation.
Eric confirmed he was probably the ‘originator’ of that that line during our recent interview, as well.
Bottom line, whoever it came from, it’s an Amazing statement though. One of my favorites…