Why is strength training so critical?

We need muscle to move. It’s where energy in the body is stored. It gives us energy to move through our lives to create what we need be it caring for others or caring for ourselves. That critical energy is needed to work and live well for as long as we can. We need energy. In the current political climate, I personally want a lot of energy.

As we age, our bodies naturally lose around 1/4 to 1/2 pound of muscle per year. That mass is often replaced by fat. This cascade leads to much less muscle and strength which ultimately leaves people feeling old and less energetic. Less muscle means less energy and less ability. Muscles also cushion our bodies in the event of a fall or collision. In the case of an injury, you will recover faster with more muscle.

Often, pneumonia is the end for an older person because they stop moving and lose what muscle they have left. My grandmother died this way. She was diagnosed with “Failure to thrive”. She couldn’t get up and soon passed. She was rail thin. A wonderful woman, but that lack of muscle combined with the illness ended her too soon.

We need muscle. Strength training makes muscle.

Bones also become more brittle as we age. I’m sure you’ve heard of an older person taking a fall, breaking a bone and having either a very long recovery or no recovery. Please know that bearing load in strength training also increases the load on bones. They respond and become more dense. That means that strength training increases bone density.

How can we ignore strength training? Perhaps it’s because the way strength training is currently portrayed is at fault. Big muscles and six pack abs are all over the media with huge supplement advertising. It’s aimed right at the people in their 20’s. If you are in your 40’s or 50’s, do you really want to go to an extremely image conscious environment to train knowing that people are watching and judging you? If you are unsure of what to do with weights, then what? I know people who want to train but are very uncomfortable in gyms and end up on the cardio machine because it feels safest. You can get some benefit there but it’s often long and unsatisfying.

You can imitate others in the gym who look like they know what they are doing, but that’s often a guess or a shot in the dark. Most people with weights use momentum. That means they swing and bounce weights which is not only very risky on the joints but it’s moving right through the hardest and most beneficial parts of the movement. This is often done because people choose too heavy of a weight. The whole thing is highly ineffective and risky. Why not use the body as it’s designed?

The key to strength training is stimulating the muscle fibers deeply so that they are taxed beyond what they normally can handle. Then with enough rest but not too much, they can repair themselves and come back stronger. They need rest time in between those taxing sessions so that there is ample time for the tissue to repair itself. Think of how long a cut takes to repair on skin. The more tissue involved, the longer the healing time required. You don’t tug on the cut until it’s healed. The key to strength training is not bouncing heavy weights at the height of joint extension. That’s the key to weakening joints and putting you on a training break for weeks at a time. If you are in your 20’s you can do this…for a little while.

Also, it’s extremely important to know what your exercise is doing to your body. Do you know if you are getting stronger? Are you losing body fat? Measuring how an exercise affects you and how much rest helps you either go up or down in strength is the difference between guessing and shooting in the dark and creating consistent increases in health. It’s hard to do for yourself. Very, very few people can do this consistently.

With SuperSlow® strength training, slow and targeted movements with proper form are executed with instruction, guidance, and measurement. A trainer is guiding you through the movements so that you breathe and relax the muscles you aren’t training. You learn to move slowly, ten seconds up and ten seconds down, through the hardest parts of the movement. There is no momentum; it’s your muscles slowly moving the weight. Ultimately, you are learning to bring your muscles to failure. Failure in this case is success. Most people stop well before this point. That’s why your trainer is guiding you. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s just one set per movement. It’s short, intense and effective. Overall, it’s about  20 minutes. Most people need a week to recover once they learn how to not hide from the failure.

This is a strength training protocol. It’s not a big muscle training protocol. For many who want large muscles, more frequent training sessions are required. This is called high volume training and you can still do high volume training in addition to strength training. Some do. They are not exclusive. However, take care with high volume training. It’s also a lot of volume on the joints.

Some people who are prone to big muscles, do get bigger muscles with SuperSlow® training. The process happens over months. In the majority of people, muscle composition changes to more dense and firm due to the addition of new muscle fibers and fat reduction due to increased metabolism. This training can reenforce other healthy habits like choosing healthier foods. Regardless of muscle size, people report feeling stronger, looking better, and having more energy.

I can tell you more here.

Safe and Effective Strength Training

I’ve been training in the SuperSlow® High-Intensity Training (HIT) method now for about a year. I’m definitely stronger, more toned and more trim. This method involves one 20 minute session once a week, in total, and there are no “aerobics” involved from an exercise standpoint. Roughly speaking, it focuses on making a muscle group get to 100% failure once (repeating across other muscle groups) and then resting a full week before doing it again. The idea is that’s all you have to do. Other exercise can just be added in for fun or sport specific applications. For me, this has been perfect because I have leadership roles in very intense startups where personal time can get routed to work.

I first read about this method in Tim Ferriss’ book, the Four Hour Body. That book led me to Doug McGuff’s book, Body by Science. (both non-affiliate links). After reading about the results, I had to see if it would really work.

In my experience with it, it’s the best exercise program that I have found. Here’s why.

  1. I’ve gotten stronger consistently.
  2. I’ve sustained zero injuries.
  3. I’ve lost visible fat and visceral fat.
  4. I’ve gained muscle.
  5. I’ve been consistent with it because it’s so easy to maintain schedule-wise.
  6. My bone density has increased.
  7. I worry less about getting workouts in.
  8. It’s only 20 minutes once a week.
  9. Unexpectedly, I’m more flexible.
  10. Sometimes, a short massage is included. (That’s awesome.)

I liked it so much that I’m training people with this method. If you want to train with me, contact me.

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