Why do we strength train?
It may be to look better or have a greater competitive edge, but hopefully we're also thinking about the ways it can benefit us in everyday life. For example, making it easier to carry the groceries up to a 3rd floor apartment or having more endurance to chase after a toddler. HOWEVER, the way sooo many people train in the weight room has very little to do with the way the body works in the real world. ex: laying the body out over a supportive pad while bicep curling. Do you think you'll ever find a situation outside of the gym where you'll have to lift something with your right bicep only and not have to engage your core muscles, your triceps, and may stabilizing muscles? Probably not!
Paul Scott, author of "Outside Fitness", puts it well when he says, "Strength is a more sustainable goal when you detach it from thinking about body parts and think instead about movements" (p. 32).
This is why you've probably heard a lot of pro's for free weights. They allow you to use a better range of motion while being more realistic as far as "out of the gym" strength. Beginners are fine starting off on machines and padded equipment, but if you want to advance, start thinking in terms of movements: push, pull, bend, rotate (or throw), squat, and step. We also preform these basic movements on multiple planes...so what we want is multi joint, multi planar movements.
Paul Scott bullet points these things to think about:
*Strength is manifested in movements
*Strength is manifested in the use of multiple joints in succession
*Strength is manifested in three planes of movement in off-balance and upon unstable settings
*Strength is manifested in different rates of force production or speed
Okay, so how can you use this? I'll give you some helpful hints, you use your noggin and think of everyday uses for your muscles, and then add weight!
Let's use PUSHING to get us started.
Types of Pushing movements:
1. Forward Pushing
2. Upward Pushing
3. Downward Pushing
1. take your bench press and turn it into a bench press with dumbbells and on a ball or a chest press standing with cable.
2. take your seated dumbbell press and seat yourself on a ball instead or stand on one leg while pressing overhead.
3. take your dumbbell tricep kickback and turn it into an overhead tricep extension from a prone position on ball.
You'll notice that we take the movement off of a stable, padded environment and add an element of instability (often in the form of a ball) to advance your strength training movement.
So, continue thinking of real-life ways to make your strength training more valuable. One I thought of today I'll call the Kayak. This one is good for the core and arms. Sit on top of a ball and lift a bar out in front of you. Make the motion as if your were paddeling a kayak down the river, moving the bar from side to side...make sure your core muscles are engaged and supporting the movement. We may not all be kayaking today...but maybe you have to move your heavey stack of books from one side of the desk to the other...do the Kayak!