By Jordan Feigenbaum
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably have a vested interest in things pertaining to training, nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle. As such, I’m banking on the fact that you are likely “THE EXERCISE” or “THE HEALTH” person amongst your group of friends and I’d like to exploit that. Two weeks ago over at the Starting Strength website, Mark Rippetoe suggested that instead of the forum members trying to get him on a podcast like Joe Rogan’s, that we all do something proactive. He remarked:
“How’s about you guys do something harder — and yet much more constructive — than hounding Rogan about me and me about Rogan:
Get somebody to start barbell training next month. Your mom, dad, sister, or brother, or a family friend who needs to train for strength. I know it’s easier to post on a board or Facebook about the lack of strength training in MMA, but really, who actually cares about this? Start worrying about the real world, and about people who need to know what we know.”-Mark Rippetoe
The title of the thread struck me as a particularly good idea, let’s make a “September is Strength Month” campaign. No offense to the other commemorative months such as National Guide Dog Month or National Honey Month, but a campaign to get a bunch more folks engaged in proper strength training has the potential to do a ton of good. So in this blog post I’ll cover some of the biggest reasons for you to take the initiative to get someone you know to start training this month. I’ll also give you some great resources to use if you’re not a coach and need some guidance. For the coup de grâce, I’ll also offer the first (and possibly last) SALE on BARBELL MEDICINE PROGRAMMING. Yep, you read that right. We’ve got two fantastic coaches who have recently joined the Barbell Medicine team, Austin Baraki M.D. and Cody Miller, a veteran in the coaching game. We’ll offer 20% off all our packages to work with either of these individuals. I’m currently swamped with residency applications, a nationwide study on strength training’s effects on health, and working with my own clients so unfortunately, this does not pertain to working with me personally. That said, you can check out these coach’s biographies and credentials here. Don’t sleep on this, folks. It’ll be over at the end of the month.
Shoot us a message by clicking HERE to learn more.
The end goal here is simple, each one teach one. If you’re reading this, that means you!
Why Strength Training? Why not ______?
Strength is the production of force against an external resistance. The production of force is required for all human movement and the ability to produce the requisite amount of force determines if a person can successfully complete a task. Consider the simple tasks of putting away the dishes in the overhead cabinet, getting up from the couch without assistance, or even the task of walking somewhere without a walker, cane, or other device. All of these activities of daily life (ADLs) require a certain amount of force production, which is generated by the muscles of the body. If, for instance, the muscles of the body cannot produce the force required to successfully complete the task at hand, then a person won’t be able to put the dishes away, they won’t be able to get up without someone’s help, and they won’t be able to walk without using an assistance device. This might remind you of someone you know or it might make you fearful for the future of someone who is close to you. It should be fairly obvious that it is much easier to build the muscle’s capacity to generate force BEFORE there is a severe deficiency, but the human organism is resilient and will adapt to what is demanded of it. So what happens with respect to force production when we participate in strength training ?
Strength training, which classically involves using a barbell to complete exercises using multiple muscle groups and multiple limbs of the body, e.g. compound lifts, also requires force production by the muscles in order to successfully complete each rep of the exercise. The barbell is a unique tool in that it is infinitely scalable to a person’s given ability. We can, for instance, have someone start squatting with a 5, 10,15, 33, or 45 pound bar (or even less if needed) on day one. If this poses a relative challenge to their current ability to produce force, that places a stress on their physiology on that day. Again, the human body is an amazing system that can adapt to a stress that is given in the correct dose, which has to be determined based on current ability. If squatting the empty bar on day 1 represents a challenge to the trainee then we don’t need to add any more weight on that day. They’ll recover between the end of the 1st training session and the start of the second one about 48 hours later. We’ll then add a little weight to the bar in order to both take advantage of the muscle’s newly acquired force production ability AND to also provide another appropriate stress to the system. And so it goes on and on. With repeated training and progressively increasing the stress, we can see improvements in force production, which we call strength. A
gain, the barbell is an invaluable tool here because we can add weight in increments as small as 1 pound if we need to, while still having the flexibility to add more weight if we need to depending on the demographic.
So what to we get with all this newfound ability to produce force? It depends where you started, of course. If you’re an otherwise healthy young person, increased force production allows you to do physical activities at a higher level. You’ll be able to hit harder, run or ride faster (putting more force into the ground or pedal each stride or stroke), lift heavier weights, or hit the golf ball further. If we’re talking about an elderly person who is severely detrained we can see them regain the ability to do ADL’s on their own, improve their balance*, and increase their capacity to be active. Want grandpa to be able to play with the grandkids? He’d likely benefit from strength training.
*Balance is an interesting physical characteristic. When the body’s center of mass is directly vertical of the balance point (the middle of the foot), a human is said to b
e “in balance”. If the center of mass deviates forward, backwards, or side to side, the body needs to create muscular force to move the limbs or otherwise correct from the disturbance to the system. If there is a problem with force production from, say, detraining, illness, or inactivity, then a fall can occur. Make no mistake about it, force production is very important for balance.
Resistance training is also unique in that it sends a signal to the muscles that they need to take up nutrients from the blood stream to rebuild themselves into stronger, more efficient, and more useful versions of their former selves. This bodes well for people who have problems with their blood sugar, as strength training has shown to be very effective at increasing the uptake of sugar from the blood into the muscles, even without insulin (in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics). Additionally, older folks tend to lose muscle mass at an ever-increasing rate decade after decade and this can result in sarcopenia. By providing these folks with a correctly dosed stressor in the form of strength training, we can keep this problem at bay or improve an existing situation.
Overall, strength levels continue to be inversely associated with all-cause mortality when researchers dig into the literature. What that means is, the stronger a person is the lower their mortality risk is compared to someone who is weaker (less strong) given the same other health variables. For younger folks, strength training has been shown to be positively associated with scholastic performance (in college at least) as well as decreased suicide risk. Needless to say, strength training is important
How do I get someone to strength train?
Great question! My feelings are that this should be an organic thing, i.e. it shouldn’t be forced or faked. Ask someone to come train with you or say that you two should do it together. Alternatively, you could ask them if they would be okay with you practicing your coaching skills on them. Hey it’s not a trick! You will be practicing 🙂
As far as practical bits of “how” to actually train someone in these lifts, the Internet is a wide, wide place and it’s easy to get lost. My recommendation would be to get on YouTube and check out the videos listed on The Aasgaard Company’s channel or the training videos that The Art of Manliness posted.
Lastly, here is a non exhaustive list of some resources I pulled from the two aforementioned sources:
So there you have it, folks. Go teach someone how to train this September, the inaugural Strength Month. Let us know how it goes and how we can help! #strongseptember