If you could only work on ONE factor in your fitness regiment, what would it be? This is a very tough question for some and easy for other to answer. I have heard many people, among them trainers, immediately say “flexibility,” others quickly say “cardio vascular,” and yet others will say, “Toning up, fat loss.” My answer is simple….STRENGTH.
I am a firm believer, without a doubt in my mind that the most important thing anyone and everyone can and should work on primarily is strength. You can never go wrong with being stronger. This is not to say that strength training is the only thing you should train. There are way too many trainers out there that work on strength only and never deal with any other fitness factors.
Being strong has a negative connotation with some people, and I really don’t know why. While I get the stereotype that some people have about equating being strong as the same as being a “big, strong, juice head,” people need to realize that they are just not the same thing. Sure, you can be huge and strong at the same time, but the two are not necessarily the same.
Meet my 82-Year-Old Client
I have trained an 82-year-old woman consistently for the last year and a half. This woman works full time (sometimes 10 hour days) and trains with me for an hour, twice a week. While our initial goals were focused on balance training, and some basic movement skills, within a month we were training to get her as strong as possible. My client does weighted squats, assisted chin ups, assisted dips, seated rows, shoulder presses, chest presses, arm curls, push downs, calf raises, and medicine ball slams, among other things. She works harder than most of the surrounding gym members that watch her in awe. At this point, she is strong, very strong. While her strength may be relative to her age, she is stronger now than she was 25 years ago.
We work with light, moderate, and heavy weights, and range our reps from high to low depending on what day and where we are in the training cycle. The coolest thing is I continually push her limits (safely) by increasing the resistance. She responds to this well. How? She gets stronger. Can an 82-year-old woman get strong and build muscle? Absolutely.
Because of her strength training she lives a better life, has more energy, experiences less pain, and her work life is easier than ever. He overall function is better than it has been in 25 years. If you were to ask me what this client’s major training parameter is I would tell you strength.
Yes, we work on balance, cardio, flexibility, tissue quality, and other things, but the crux of her program is strength training and she is soaring right now!
Don’t be afraid to get stronger. It wont hurt you, in fact it will only help. I train all of my clients to get stronger. I don’t ignore other training factors, however, strength is the key aspect that I wrap my programs around. I see less injuries, less pain, better overall performance and better looking bodies because of this.
Whether you are male or female, if your reps are still in the twenties, and your weights never seem to go up, you better start to work on getting stronger. You can never go wrong with being strong. Change your program and work on your strength.
If you don’t know how to get strong, or you are not comfortable figuring it out on your own, you can hire a trainer…just make sure he/she shares the “strength” philosophy..many trainers do not “get it” either. If you want to go at it on your own, I highly recommend that you pick up Jason Ferruggia’s Muscle Gaining Secrets. This book is one of the best around to help you get stronger, fast. I have used the concepts in this book on men and women and have seen amazing results.