Thinking Out Loud

Why do I value strength so much?  Sometimes I wonder.  Yesterday I was thinking about so-called “metabolic circuits”.  You know, several exercises done in a row at a quick pace designed to burn fat and get the heart rate going.  I will sometimes use this style of training, but within reason, and certainly not for a full hour.  I think that much of the time, to perform these circuits the person needs to have at least some kind of level of technical mastery.  In my experience, more often than not, people need to take time to build strength and efficiency in movements such as the push up, squat, lunge, etc., than to do them at a quick pace for high reps.  Now when I’m talking about strength, in this case I don’t mean really heavy weights and chasing numbers all the time.  I simply mean moving well and being efficient.  I suppose that’s the argument for self limiting exercise.  Using tools like the sled and ropes are rather safe and difficult to do incorrectly even in a fatigued state.  The same reason I prefer those to push ups and lunges as conditioning.  At least part of all the training sessions I conduct are going to be dedicated to “low rep” strength training every time.

So again, why do I value strength so much?  As Charles Staley states, it’s at the top of the hierarchy.  Want to tone up?  Get stronger.  It’ll help quite a bit.  Want to get faster and more physical on the field?  Get stronger.  How would you like to be a more efficient endurance athlete and minimize injury?  Build some real strength.

On an unrelated note.  Have you seen this video?  If you haven’t read The Talent Code, Talent Is Overrated, or Outliers, I highly recommend them.  Although not exactly the same, and written by different authors, these books have many similarities.  Get an idea of what The Talent Code is about from this video.

Today the latest issue of Hardstyle Magazine showed up under the door at the gym.  I skimmed through it quickly but this quote from Pavel caught my eye.  “And the training of an athlete who has passed his beginner “accumulation” stage is a zero sum game.  Which means that pointless exercises not only unnecessarily tax time and recovery but create competition to the money lifts for synaptic sites.  You have two choices: concentrate your gains on your competition events and a handful of big payoff strength exercises or spread them thinly over “random acts of variety”.

What does this mean to me?  Well, first what he is saying and expanded upon further in the article relates to the neural aspect of training and learning talked about in the video above.  Second, know why you are doing what you are doing in your training.  There should be a reason for it.  What is the goal?  Does your behavior match that goal?  On an even simpler level, does your program include the essentials?  It may be slightly different for some but generally a push, pull, squat, and hinge.  Or upper and lower body pushing and pulling.  If you are an athlete, don’t waste your valuable time and stay focused on your goals.  If you are not training for anything specific it’s still the same to me.  You only have a certain amount of time to train per week.  Be focused and use the highest payoff or bang for your buck movements and drills.

–  Mike Baltren

2 thoughts on “Thinking Out Loud

  1. Emily

    Mike,
    Great, great post. I was nodding in agreement the whole time I was reading your first paragraph on strength. I was just talking about this with my husband the other night and going off about people needing to be stronger first before they are able to do more work. People don't understand how to work hard and this comes back to strength. If they were stronger, they would work harder because they would be more efficient at the exercise. I particular agree with this quote…

    "I think that much of the time, to perform these circuits the person needs to have at least some kind of level of technical mastery. In my experience, more often than not, people need to take time to build strength and efficiency.."

    The stronger you are, the more efficient you will be at a particular exercise, the more work you will be able to do, the faster you will be able to perform the exercise….This is exactly why I emphasize strength with my programs. People ask me whether or not I do "cardio." I tell them I lift weight. The stronger I am, the more work will be able to do. The closer I get to reaching my goals. Want to lose weight? Get strong so you can move faster and more efficiently. Period. Thanks for putting it so simply. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Strong Fixes Everything « Ambition Athletics

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