You saw ‘strength training’ and probably thought of the meatheads at the gym clanging and banging weights with their headphones on, chest bumping their ‘bros’ and grunting like Neanderthals every time they lift something. (After reading this I realise I definitely need to re-evaluate my own gym etiquette…. Nah bro, science says that grunting means more gains!)
Joking aside, this is actually all too common; it is called a steno symbol. I say strength training, you think meathead. I say deadlift, you think injury. I say nutrition, you think starvation. I say fitness, you think vomiting in a bucket whilst drowning in a pool of your own sweat.
Whilst it’s good that Shane is on his way to breaking the new deadlift world record and getting a sore throat from all the grunting, it’s obvious that strength training is important for him, but it is actually almost more important for everybody else.
Strength training could be the girl who’s just got her first pull up at the gym, the untrained guy who’s just learnt how to squat and deadlift properly for the first time, the child that has just done the monkey bars for the first time, or Doris who is now able to hold a full plank on the floor for the first time in 50 years. Strength training is important for everybody – young children all the way through to the elderly.
You don’t just have to stand in front of a mirror and do bicep curls for an hour to be strength training, or sit on monotonous gym machines whilst listening to the theme tune to pumping iron. It could be something as simple as walking to and from the supermarket so you have to carry the shopping back (this might also limit the amount of beer you buy; trust me, if you buy a lot you’re strength gets tested carrying the bags!) If you’re a gym goer reading this, train movements not muscles: push, pull, squat, hinge, carry, e.g. push = press up, pull = pull up, squat = goblet squat, hinge = hip bridge, carry = farmers walk.
Here are some of the benefits of strength training.
Probably the reason you are reading this blog is because you’re looking for a way to ‘trim’, ‘tone’ or ‘get lean’. Well, I’m afraid there’s no magic pill or quick fix workout where you walk out a stone lighter, but strength training might just be the next best thing.
If you are a trainer you will hear clients say this all the time, “I just want to tone up and get lean for my holiday, I don’t want to gain muscle and get bulky.” Ladies, if it were that easy to get bulky every guy walking around would look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Dwayne The Rock Johnson! That tone or body shape you’re after is actually sculpted from your muscle.
Here are some other reasons why strength training is good for burning fat:
- Increased growth hormone is related to metabolising fat.
- Can increase muscle density (not bulk) which burns more energy at rest. More muscle = more calories burnt doing nothing, which means you can eat more, yay!
- You’ll burn more calories lifting weights than doing cardio.
- “If you have two people at exactly the same weight, the STRONGER person out of the two will always be the leanest!”Whenever I say this people start coming up with all sorts of situations when it doesn’t occur, such as, “What about those strongmen competitors – they’re not lean.” Well I’m afraid you haven’t read the statement properly, it says two people of exactly the same weight; strongmen weigh around the same as a sumo wrestler. Guess who’s stronger? Guess who’s leaner?
“What about height?”, I hear you say. Ok, two ladies of completely different height but the same weight, the one that can do the most pull ups and carry the farmers handles for the longest will be the leanest. Done.
I got 99 problems but my SLEEP ain’t one!
Ok, let me keep this one short. Go in the gym and deadlift or squat for 45 minutes and tell me how you sleep that night! When I say squats I’m not talking about standing on a balance board or Swiss ball patting your head and rubbing your stomach squats. I’m talking load the bar up with some weight or grab the biggest kettlebells you can, and squat. How did you sleep that night? If the answer’s “Not good”, you needed more weight!
This is one of the most common feedback points we get after a strength session. “I went home cooked food and then slept like a king! I mean like slept!!”
This can also be one of the reasons people don’t turn up sometimes, “I didn’t sleep well last night”. Ok, if you didn’t sleep well last night I can tell you tonight’s sleep is going to be golden after coming to the gym.
The more and more I train people, the more and more I realise that mindset is actually the most important thing. Everything works! If you do cardio it works; if you do strength training it works; if you do b80xtreme suspended air zero gravity training it works; the one thing that will hold people back is their MINDSET!
Let me tell you one of the most frequent situations I have with clients. I set up a bar for them to deadlift, lay out some kettlebells to swing, get the chalk out for pull ups or put some plates on the sled, and give the clients the demo and explanation of all the coaching points. We both know they’re ready and then they drop this…
“I can’t do that.”
I usually follow with something along the lines of, “Wow, that was impressive” and they look confused so I’ll follow up with, “You can look into the future because you haven’t even tried it yet!”
Before Eddie Hall walks up to do his world record deadlift that is just over half a tonne he doesn’t say, “Oh that looks heavy, I can’t do that.”
Strength training will give you that ‘can do’ mindset so when you walk up to something you think, “I’m gonna lift that f**king bar today”, “Is that all you’re putting on the sled?”, or, “Give me more; I’ve got this!” It gives you that ‘can do/’come at me’ attitude, which, when you take it into other aspects of your life will make you thrive and be so much more confident and comfortable in your own mind! I could actually go on forever about this but to cut all the shluur, strength training has been scientifically proven to fight depression. Don’t believe me? Then just Google or YouTube ‘strength training vs. depression’ and I’m sure there will be someone a lot cleverererer (that’s a word, right?) than me explaining why.
All round kick ass awesomeness
Yep, this one’s about that thing that it doesn’t really matter whether science proves it or not, I know that once I’ve been in and got that strength session done I feel like I can take on the world and its mates, we’ve hit cloud 9 and I’m still going! If you go to our evening Lifted session you know this feeling and it’s really hard to explain to people.
I could blabber on for ages about why strength training’s amazing, so let me hit you with some bullet points to sum it up.
- Increases HDL – High Density Lipoprotein (good cholesterol) and decreases LDL – Low Density Lipoprotein (bad cholesterol)
- Reduces risk of diabetes and insulin needs
- Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Lowers risk of breast cancer – reduces high oestrogen levels linked to the disease
- Decreases or minimises risk of osteoporosis by building bone mass
- Reduces symptoms of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Decreases colds and illness
- Increases testosterone = more fat burning
- Boosts brain power
- Releases endorphins (‘feel good’ hormone)
- Move better
- Injury free = more longevity (you might even dance at your grandchild’s wedding)
- Increases social skills
- Decreases depression
- Improved confidence and self esteem
- Higher sex drive
- Run faster and longer
- Feel better
- Be better at just about anything
- It’s fun!
- Strong as f**k
- Look good nakiid 😉
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So if you saw ‘strength training’ and thought ‘meathead’ at the start of this blog, now I want you to think of YOU being more confident, and having fun getting stronger!
Yours in strength,