Strength matters in everything we do. If you do not have muscular strength, then you cannot do anything. Even just getting up from a chair or walking requires strength before anything else. When a child first looks to stand, he or she must develop the necessary strength. Without the strength to stand, that little boy or girl will not be able to walk, let alone run or complete other physical feats. You are not different.
Why Strength Matters
Strength fuels everything you do. Think about anything you do. When you roll out of bed in the morning, it is your muscles that allow you to do this. When you get up from the bed, and walk to the bathroom, it is strength in your legs that propels you forward.
When you pull down your pants to go to the bathroom, it is the strength in your arms that allows you to do so. When you sit down on the toilet it is strength that allows you to do this. When you reach for the toilet paper, stand up, flush the toilet, and wash your hands, it is strength that allows you to do it.
If you do not believe me or cannot understand this, imagine the muscles in your hands not working. This would mean you would not be able to move your fingers, let alone push off from the bed, open the bathroom door, pull down your pants, etc. Now imagine more of your muscles not working. The weaker you are, the harder it becomes to perform even the most mundane tasks.
Loss of strength Kills Aging
There are numerous factors that play into aging well. SOme, such as genetic factors or the aging of cells, are beyond the control of you or me. Others, such as loss of strength due to lack of physical activity and poor diet that leads to excessive weight gain, are within our control.
Loss of strength is the main reason older people have trouble completing tasks. There are studies and anecdotal evidence that supports strength training in older adults, and the maintenance of an ideal body weight.
Losing strength and carrying around 50 pounds of excess fat on your body is going to cause you a significant amount of trouble as you age. If you do not think so, strap 50 pounds of weight on you in some way. Use a vest, a fat suit, have a kid hang on your back, whatever. YOu will find it terribly hard to move around. Now imagine losing 25 percent or more of of your strength
How to Maintain and Improve Strength
The basics work 100 percent of the time. For strength these basics are pressing, hip hinging, and squatting. These three movements combined make up the basic patterns of human function.
Examples of pressing are:
- Barbell bench press
- Dumbbell overhead press
- Kettlebell floor press
- Seated unilateral press
Examples of hip hinging are:
- Barbell rack pull
- Kettlbell swing
- Dumbbell deadlift
- Hip thrust
Examples of squatting are:
- Body weight squat
- Pistol squat
- Barbell front squat
- Goblet squat
- Dumbbell overhead squat
These lists are not exhaustive. Any movement that works in a similar manner can be used. There is no exercise, just movement patterns. Those movements are the press, hip hing, and squat when talking about strength. Complete these movements on a regular basis to maintain and improve strength.
How to Use these Exercises in a Workout
I am an online strength coach. All of my programs include these basic movement patterns. The exact way these programs are incorporated into any strength program I create varies. Here are a few things I consider:
The goals of a person matter because they help frame what kind of approach needs to be used. There will be differences between a program for someone who wants to maximize their strength versus someone who just wants to a level of functional strength.
Equipment matters because it determines what kind of exercises I can program. There is always a way to program these basic movement patterns—the press, hip-hinge, and squat—into any online strength program regardless of available equipment.
Ability matters as some people will have restrictions or simply be more or less fit than others. Also in ability is skill level, and with someone more experienced, more complex movements can be programmed.
A person internest level in strength training and in different kinds of equipment or strength training approaches matters in making a program that engages them. Not everyone likes doing a barbell squat and not everybody likes doing a kettlebell swing
My point is to note that these things should be considered by you or your coach when creating a Strength program online or in person.
Keep it Simple
A simple approach is to complete the press, squat, and hip hinge three times per week with varying exercises and volume. For example:
Barbell squat x 5 sets x 5 reps
Barbell bench press x 5 set x 5 reps
Barbell deadlift x 5 sets x 5 reps
Superset Goblet squat + kettlebell swing x 5 sets of 10 reps each
Kettlebell floor press x 5 sets x 10 reps
Pistol squat to chair x 5 sets x 3 reps per side
Dumbbell overhead press x 5 sets x 8 reps
Single leg deadlift x 5 sets x 8 reps per side
You could repeat this each week with the same load, or try to marginally increase loading each week as possible. Varying the type of exercises, use of superserts of circuit, shorter or longer rest periods, and adjustments to other variables could make the process more engaging and productive over time.
This is a very simple approach, but it is one that will work if you do it consistently. This simple layout can be adjusted to any skill level. I have used it with 20 year old bodybuilders, and 60 year old out of shape grandmas.
Nathan DeMetz holds degrees in Exercise Science, Business Administration, and Information Technology as well as certifications in strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, run coaching, and other areas. His credentials come from organizations such as Indiana Wesleyan University, Ivy Tech College, Utah State University, and the ISSA College of Exercise Science.
Nathan has 20 years of personal and professional experience in the health and fitness world. He works with people from across the globe, including locations such as Kuwait, Australia, and the USA.
To work with Nathan directly on your personal training goals, contact him today!