Got goals? Here's how to support them in the gym.
Lifting weights makes you better at everything else that's important in your life.
Literally everything, like mindset and self-esteem, but especially any physical pursuit you may be engaged in...
So, ask yourself. What is your goal?
- Do you want to get stronger?
- Do you want to get bigger?
- Do you want to maintain/improve endurance?
- Do you have a PT test coming up?
- Do you just want to be healthy?
- Do you have other active hobbies that you care about?
- Where do you want to be in 10 years?
Resistance training serves all these goals. Allow me to spit some of that good gouge on just how this is possible and why you should be lifting a few sessions a week no matter who you are.
Long distance runners
It takes strength to run in boots. Any imbalances you may have become amplified with boots or a pack on, or at extreme distances.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John C. Lamb/Released)
Let's take a marathoner, for example, just to jump to the most extreme end of the spectrum away from the standard lifter. The focus of a marathoner is to run 26.2 miles as fast as possible. All other goals are secondary to that.
In order to be the best marathoner possible, more than running is required. Specifically, having the strength to actually run properly is imperative. Many running injuries come from overuse and fatigue. When a runner is tired, the muscles most prone to injury are those that are the weakest.
The best way to prevent a weak hamstring from destroying a marathoning career is not to let the hamstring get weak in the first place. That's where resistance training comes in. The gym is the place where a marathoner can specifically target those muscles that give out first and bring them up to snuff.
When practicing your sport of choice, you can't focus on a weakness--you need to try to hide it or overcompensate in another way.
The crusty old timer
Train legs until the day you die.
Tell me if this sounds familiar.
Dad/Grandpa/Mom/Meemaw was doing so well, but then it got hard for him/her to get up and down the stairs. Eventually, he/she fell and ended up in the hospital (my grandmother needed a new steel hip). That's when things started to spiral. He/she stopped making sense, couldn't use the bathroom alone anymore, and needed someone around 24/7.
That's usually around the point when you start wondering if they would be better off "in the great beyond." Someone always says this: "If I ever get that bad, pull the plug."
More lower body strength strongly correlates to a higher quality of life later in life. Dr. Austin Baraki gets into the nitty-gritty here.The most efficient and safest way of increasing lower body strength is properly regulated resistance training. Check out the middle of this article for the quantitative pros of resistance training over other exercise modalities.
Get bigger, stronger, leaner
Strength is unbiased. Just show up and do the work.
If your main priority is strength or size gains, then you should get in the gym obviously. There is no one on planet earth that would argue weight lifting won't get you stronger or more muscular. Leaner? As spelled out in this article here, resistance training is actually the most efficient method to burn body fat in the long run. Sure a crash diet or some intense HIIT sessions can help in the short term, but their benefits are what we call diminishing returns. Not to mention that they have the potential to spur a negative relationship with food or exercise. Try instead the nomad approach, laid out here, which includes a solid resistance training regimen of a few days a week.
The man of a million interests
If you don't desire to flying drop kick another human being you have no pulse.
If marathoners, the elderly, and those seeking fat loss can all benefit from lifting weights, you can bet your jalapeño cheese spread that those benefits extend to every other pursuit imaginable. Think of your gym sessions as survivability training for your body so that when you do choose to pursue something new, you have a solid base of capable muscle to back you up.
The reason we train
We train to extend the quality of our lives but also to potentially save the life of someone else.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Alexis R. Mulero)
The purpose of training is to extend the length of quality years that we live by allowing us to turn up the volume on the things we value.
If you value aesthetics, train accordingly.
If you need to survive in combat, train accordingly.
If you want to play with your kids, train accordingly.
If you have a crush on the yoga instructor, train accordingly. Without being a stalker creep.
If you have your first marathon coming up, train accordingly.
If you are gunning for a promotion and need a perfect score on the PFT, train accordingly.
REMEMBER: Wherever your values may lie strength (and a resistance training plan) is a core component.
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