This mindset that pervades our ranks means I have ladies who enter my gym with trepidation, filled with fear that following my philosophies and approach to exercise will have their tank tops busting at the seams. The reality of the situation is that in order to successfully attack one’s goals, whether they be weight loss, fitness or improved sports performance, the base of your training must be strength. Yes, in order to be lean, fit, fast, explosive or just fit into your skinny jeans, you need to get strong first.
Strength is the ABC of physical education. A solid foundation of strength will allow for better outcomes, whatever your physical goal is. To build the infrastructure of an effective and efficient ‘machine’ that burns fat at an accelerated rate and also improve your ability to train intensely, you need to build a substructure. In this regard, the human body’s base of performance is dependent on your strength and power output. The more force you can exert, the better your body can execute a task. As mentioned in previous articles, strength is a skill and the more you practise your skill, the closer you get to perfection. Triathletes, cyclists, runners, canoeists, fighters, surfers, swimmers, in fact any type of athlete, will improve their ability to perform by being strong. As Senior Russian Kettlebell Instructor and elite athlete Mark Reifkind quite simply stated: “Strength fixes everything”. This does not mean that all athletes need to build incredible strength, but rather that whatever your physical goal is, being strong first is crucial. In order to move forward and develop power, endurance, speed and fitness, you require a certain amount of tonicity and tension. There are some simple rules I live and coach by when incorporating an effective strength programme into the routines of my athletes, housewives and weekend warriors.
While I’m not going to discuss a plan, nor deliberate over rep ranges, sets and intensity, I will offer you this advice:
Follow these simple rules and get better at life.
Rule #1: Don’t over complicate your workouts. Keep it simple because simple works. Stick to the basics. Leave the fancy gadgets and elaborate complexes to the girl in the neon headband doing one legged squats on the Bosu ball. At OTG we have a motto we adopted from renowned fitness coach Eric Bach: “Success lies in the ruthless execution of the basics”.
Rule #2: Choose exercises that target compound movements over isolation exercises. During training you want to transfer power through more than one joint. This will not only build solid muscle, but also reinforces ligaments and joints while fortifying connective tissue and building strength through multiple planes. This develops overall strength over size.
Rule #3: Improve on weaknesses to build new strengths. Ensure your training is effective and focus on your weaknesses. Hone in on everything you ‘suck’ at.
Rule #4: Get specific. As an athlete, regardless of your sport, you need to focus on movements that target your movements and that mimic your flow. A fighter’s power comes from the ground up – a punch is pulled from the ground and exerted from the hips. Athletes should therefore target movements rather than muscles.
Rule #5: There is no such thing as overtraining. There is only under-recovery. Make time for recovery or make time for failing. Simple!
Rule #6: Watch what everyone else is doing and do the complete opposite. There are far too many ‘experts’ out there today and nowhere near enough authority.
Rule #7: Get strong first
A good relationship has a solid foundation, a sturdy base and a concrete support structure. Don’t allow ego to interfere with your process. Do what you need to do to succeed and continue to push the evolution of the human form. Build your body and it will build your character. But above all else, get strong first.