Why do I place so much importance with weight training?
We understand today that strength training plays an integral part of any physical goal. Now once upon a time to get good at running you just ran, cyclists rode and footy players played footy. Now, so much weight (if you pardon the pun) is placed on a good strength training program for pretty much any sport that requires any physicality to it. This even goes for the more classically female of the sports, like netball, where training involved just more court time and possible some X-training, mostly in the form of long distance running. Not today, the advances in sport science have pushed the ladies of this sport into weight rooms lifting heavy weights and training energy systems which has propelled the performance of the athletes to new heights. An interesting little article about it here.
If you want to be fitter, you must be able to train harder, move faster and recover well. To accomplish this you must be stronger. To be stronger you must lift weights!
What does this have anything to so with you, the weekend warrior gym goer? Well when many (pretty much all) of the people we train were asked “why do you want to train at a gym like this?” I heard words like “fitter, toned, increase in lean muscle, lose weight & more energy”. Now I guess it seems self evident that the toned and increase in lean mass responses would result in me pointing to some weights and say “lift!”. But in regards to getting fitter, more energy etc. this doesn’t necessarily mean that I just say “more cardio” if you want to be fitter. Although it is partially the case, the weight room also plays an integral part in your increases in fitness. Hence the reason we put a lot of emphasis on it!
Let just say I get a new member coming in to the gym. I ask “why are you here?” and I get that regular response “I want to be fitter and lose some weight”. This all points to the person required to train at a level of intensity that will cause a change in their physiology, basically I need to train them hard enough that their fitness improves. Now the science says that training in a CrossFit style, regardless of its many holes, does however give significant changes to cardiovascular and muscle endurance (read about it here). Here’s the kicker, the harder your training sessions are in intensity the more likely you are to be injured, this is evident in many activities. BUT, if you want to get fitter you must train with the appropriate amount of intensity. It’s a catch-22. Enter strength training!
So we are left with this dilemma “I want to get fitter but to train hard might injury me along the way”. A justified question is why do people get hurt? It’s a ‘walk before you run’ concept which is the answer to that question. My gripe with the intensity-only fitness models out there (I won’t mention names) is that intensity-only places a LOT of pressure on muscles, ligaments and tendons without first making those tissues stronger. This leads to an increased chance of injury. Let’s use the example of runners here. Long distance runners soon realised that if they wanted to run, recover and do it again over and over again they needed to make the relevant tendons and muscles stronger. So that’s what they did! Much focus goes into increasing the size and strength of the Achilles tendon, feet tendons as well as the calf and hamstring groups. This reduces the risk of injury and increases the rate of recovery.
So the argument is to move faster and faster you need to have the strength to do so. This is illustrated in the concept known in the strength and conditioning world as the speed-strength continuum. Simply put if you want to go fast you need to start at Absolute Strength (get stronger), only then can you go to Strength/Speed (Olympic lifting – snatchs/cleans), only then can you move to Speed/Strength (plyometrics, Olympic lifting for reps/TnG etc.) and then you move to absolute speed (Longer WODs with high reps).
So we have made the argument based on the observation that the sports scientists have discovered that increasing strength and muscle size decreases the risk of injury thereby allowing the athlete to train longer and perform at their best. This observation applies also then to weekend warrior. If you want to be fitter, you must be able to train harder, move faster and recover well. To accomplish this you must be stronger. To be stronger you must lift weights!