It seems like everyone wants to do nothing but High Intensity training. They have a mindset of “if I don’t come close to puking or I’m not lyong on the floor almost dying after a workout, I didn’t do enough”
Unfortunately that mindset will break you down rather than build you up. You might be able to go at max effort for a while but eventually it will catch up. Doing a high exertion workout once per week is plenty, especially if you already have a high level of stamina.
If you want to stay healthy and active until you die then you need to look at long term goals: your ability to move well and keep it, the integrity of your joints and remaining as injury free as possible.
So what does that have to do with Strength? Strength is your foundation. Without strength your conditioning level will only get you so far. Sure you might be able to do 25 pullups or 100 burpees in world record time but can you squat 2.5 times your bodyweight? Can you press 3/4 of your bodyweight overhead? How much can you deadlift with a barbell. These are considered to be strength standards and everyone male or female should be able to hits those numbers, but it takes training and patience.
So you ask Why do I need to be able to lift so much? Because you never know when you might have to move a heavy object or push your car or truck off the side of the road. Being strong makes all other aspects of your health and fitness better. If you can do 10 pullups and get strong at deadlifts your pullup numbers WILL go up. If you can squat 2.5 times your bodyweight you’ll be able to jump higher and farther playing basketball or football. Your foot speed will also improve which means you’ll get to the ball faster if you play soccer or tennis. Being strong means being able to hit the ball harder or further as well.
What if you don’t play sports? Being strong means you can carry a lot of groceries in one trip, you can manage your heavy suitcase and stuff it into the overhead storage bin in the plane. You can carry your kids around longer.
Strength training increases the load the muscles can take which in turn increases the strength of the bones. Research has shown heavy resistance training will prevent or reverse osteopenia (loss of muscle mass) and osteoporosis (loss of bone mass). Both of these “diseases” are caused by lack of activity specifically lifting heavy objects. Consequently, the more strong muscle you can put on in your youth the more you will have when you get older and it will be easier to keep too.
Before you start training for strength you must make sure you are doing the movements properly and that your body is actually ready to start training. For example, if you can’t do a bodyweight squat properly and you start squatting with any type of external load the chances are you will get hurt. So you must make sure your body is capable of taking an external load. Sometimes the only way to know is to go see someone for an assessment. This will make sure your body is ready to train for strength, or anything other physical activity. If your assessor finds problem areas they can give you training programs that will be geared towards correcting those issues before you load up with weight.
Let’s say that when you press a weight overhead you get shoulder and back pain. What’s going on?? Is it really your shoulder or back, is it the weight itself? Maybe but more likely you have tight lats and possible tight pecs and poor core control/stability. Before I have you doing standing overhead presses I’d have you do some stretches to get the lats loosened up and address your core stability. Sometimes it’s as simple as breathing properly and learning how to tense all the muscles in your body. Other times there may be an underlying issue that may take a long time to clear up. Either way without an assessment you’ll probably either get truly injured or you’ll stop pressing.
Once you’re clear to lift weights it’s time to dig in and learn proper form. Everyone is a little different so each person will move a little differently but there is a standard range of motion and acceptable deviance for all lifts. As long as you are with that range you’ll be fine. Get a coach to teach you and give you feedback on your technique
A sample month long program:
Monday & Thursday
Warmups – Foam Roller, Mobility exercises, etc
|1a) Barbell Deadlift||5||5||60sec|
|1b) Row variation (db, kb barbell, Renegade etc)||5||8||60sec|
|2a) Hip Thrust (barbell across hips)||5||10||60sec|
|2b) Inverted rows||5||10||60sec|
|3a) Dead Bug Variation||3||20||60sec|
|3b) Plank||3||as long as possible||60sec|
|4) Suitcase Carry||4||100 ft per side||60sec|
Tuesday & Friday
Warmups – Foam Roller, Mobility exercises, etc
|1a) Squat Variation (BB Back or front squat, KB goblet squat etc)||5||5||60sec|
|1b) Pushup variation||5||AMRAP good form!||60sec|
|2a) Weighted Step up||5||8 r/l||60sec|
|2b) Floor Press (kb or db)||5||8 r/l||60sec|
|3a) Bird Dog variation||3||12||60sec|
|3b) Side Plank||3||as long as possible r/l||60sec|
|4) Waiter’s Carry (hold a kb in your palm at shoulder level, elbow in)||4||100 ft per side||60sec|
Do that for a month, each workout add a little weight to the bar or use a heavier kb or db. Even just 2.5 lbs each workout will increase your strength fairly fast.
The weight that you use should be tough. If you are doing sets of 5 the 5th rep should be tough but you should be able to do 1 or 2 more if you had too. You’re working around 85-90% or your 1 rep max (1 RM) the most you can lift once. On the pushups do as many as you can but when your form breaks stop. No head bobbing, no hips sagging or shoulders rounding forward!
For the planks and side planks go until you drop or lose neutral spine. Your goal is at least 2 mis on a plank and 90sec per side on the side plank.
If you just HAVE to do some “conditioning” walk faster on the waiter’s carry and suitcase carry 🙂
Wednesday take it easy, walk, swim, easy bike ride etc. Same on Friday. Saturday you can do a “met-con” type of workout to get your fix in. Sunday rest.