While training one day in an Olympic lifting cycle, I was performing a clean and jerk and afterwards a bystander approached me and told me to ” be careful”. I appreciate the sentiment that someone took the time to express a concern of theirs to me about my safety. However, it shows that one of the biggest misconceptions of this fitness industry is still alive and kicking. That is that lifting heavy is dangerous and shouldn’t be practiced, unless you are “young and dumb”.

People who feel this way simply need to be educated especially if they are just “lay people”. First of all lifting heavy doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. Just because doesn’t have a 600 LB. dead-lift doesn’t mean that they aren’t lifting relatively heavy loads for them. Second before we approach a heavy lifting cycle the exerciser must make sure that they have adequate mobility and stability to begin to pattern or groove the movement. Then afterwards time must be spent learning the move and developing good habits before moving into more advanced loads or movements.

A good example of this approach is once the person has an acceptable squat and any movement issues are removed and re-patterned. The person can be loaded with a goblet squat in order to further learn how to properly squat and develop some more mobility to squat as deep as they can. (Yes, it can different from person to person)

 

After spending enough time on the goblet squat and developing good technique. The next step can be the kettlebell front squat or the racked squat. Usually on this we start off with one kettlebell and after dealing with any further issues with this step.

 

We can then move on to the double kettlebell front squat. This step will further en-grain the squat pattern and teach the trainee to engage their brain and technique in a way that will challenge them and make them stronger in the process.

 

Finally, after all of the previous steps are mastered the barbell front squat can be safely taught and loaded. By this point the trainee’s skills in the squat should be able to withstand the loading while maintaining form without much correction. Which will lessen the chance of injury and likely hood of over-training due to faulty mechanics.

 

All of these steps are important because  getting stronger is a skill and needs to be practiced and learned in a way that the person can be challenged, but be successful as they train. Training this way leads to many benefits in our fitness and health as we do it. That is where today’s title comes from.

Building Strength to Be Better and to Endure

 

You see a lot of our issues with progressing in our chosen activity, come from not moving well first as well as not becoming stronger from our training.  Have you been making steady progress in your sport and or training? If you are a runner, are you running faster or longer with consistent form? Are you jumping higher or becoming more explosive as an athlete in spite of all of your efforts to do so? If you said no, you probably need to get stronger in order to have the capacity to improve upon the qualities that are needed for your pursuit.

Absolute or even relative strength both have a huge part in improving your performance. Think of getting stronger as a glass and as you get stronger you make the glass bigger and able to hold more. In other words getting stronger makes you better and gives you the ability to develop better endurance or power. It makes a lot of our activities easier and gives the ability to be able to do more of them as a result of improving this one quality.

 

However, there is a way that you will want to train to get his benefit and not mess up your sport or pursuit. The first thing is that you don’t want to go to fatigue. Going to fatigue and failure (a break down in form) will make your strength training will cause your performance to decrease and not get better. Secondly, I believe it is best to spend at least two weeks on absolute strength (or max strength) at the 70% to 80 %  of you one rep max level. These higher intensities will not completely “smoke” you and are enough resistance to create change in your strength levels. This approach will ensure that you can keep working on your sport and even improve at it while getting stronger!

 

Or you can take the other approach of just focusing on weight lifting and following the traditional model of 8 to 12 reps (relative strength) and taking shorter rest periods in between sets. This approach will also help you perform better. It just will involve more fatigue and recovery time in between sessions. Another con to this training programming is that, it will be difficult to improve at your sport.

So my advice use this approach sparingly and only for short periods of time in conjunction with not seeking to get better at your passion and doing less work on it. Obviously, I am leaving the choice to you. But, If you would ask me though, I  would say to follow the first approach in order  to maximize the benefits of strength training in relation to your sport or life.

Strength work is beneficial to everyone from athlete to elderly and will enhance your performance and life. Especially if you follow a properly periodized program geared specifically towards your sports and unique weaknesses. Just make sure to spend time on learning each move and progressing at the right pace for you. As you do your confidence, strength, power and endurance will become better and you as well. Let me ask you a question are you ready to get better? Then get a good strength coach and get lifting!

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