Updated: Jun 15, 2022
"Physical strength is the most important thing in life. This is true whether we want it to be or not. As humanity has developed throughout history, physical strength has become less critical to our daily existence, but no less important to our lives. Our strength, more than any other thing we possess, still determines the quality and the quantity of our time here in these bodies. Whereas previously our physical strength determined how much food we ate and how warm and dry we stayed, it now merely determines how well we function in these new surroundings we have crafted for ourselves as our culture has accumulated. But we are still animals – our physical existence is, in the final analysis, the only one that actually matters. A weak man is not as happy as that same man would be if he were strong. This reality is offensive to some people who would like the intellectual or spiritual to take precedence. It is instructive to see what happens to these very people as their squat strength goes up." - Mark Rippetoe, Starting Strength Basic Barbell Training, Vol 3
While yes, we have a brain and are the most intellectual of most species (at least that's what we think), we are still at the core physical beings. Everything we experience in our existence is this physical world we call home. We must move and manipulate this realm. I encourage you to read this article in its entirety and really let it marinate within you.
WHAT CAN STRENGTH DO FOR ME?
Strength is the low-hanging fruit that drastically improves your life. Strength is the ability to produce force against an external resistance. Your physical strength depends upon your ability to produce force. People who are capable of producing the most force are the strongest. The more force you are capable of producing, the more useful you will be. Your strength facilitates every movement, and your movement facilitates everything you are able to accomplish in your physical environment. If you are weak, you may struggle with carrying groceries in from Costco, pulling the starter on your lawn mower, or standing up off from a toilet. Strength is intimately associated with your health, and health is analogous to your longevity as a being on this earth. Multiple studies have shown that grip strength is a major predictor for longevity in older adults.
You are in need of more strength. Everyone is in need of more strength.
These are some things being stronger can do for you and why we focus so heavily when training clients at Ground Zero Strength.
Strength makes you more athletic.
There are 10 overarching physical skills that relate to our physical existence, athleticism, and human performance.
Endurance: The ability for the body systems to gather and deliver oxygen
Stamina: The ability for the body to process, utilize and store energy
Flexibility: Ability to maximize range of motion
Power: Ability for muscular units to produce maximal force in the least amount of time
Speed: Ability to minimize the time cycle of repeated movement
Coordination: Ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct moment (Shooting a basketball, squatting, etc)
Balance: The ability to control the placement of the body's center of gravity in relation to its support base.
Accuracy: The ability control movement in a given direction or given intensity.
STRENGTH: THE ABILITY TO PRODUCE AND APPLY FORCE AGAINST EXTERNAL RESISTANCE
Now you've read over these 10 skills and here is the kicker: STRENGTH is the only physical skill that directly impacts the other nine skills. Getting physically stronger will improve every other skill. These skills determine how our body's move in the physical world. By getting stronger you get better at everything involved with being a human. If you are stronger, you will be able to run farther, run faster, jump higher, have more stamina, balance on a tight-rope more efficiently.
Think of it like this: A combination of all of these traits helps a person take one running step. Being stronger will make you better at all the traits that go into taking a running step, which in turn makes you stronger at taking running steps. It takes over 50,000 steps to complete a marathon. Thus, running a marathon truly is an expression of strength.
On opposite side for an explanation: You developing better accuracy in a skill will not help your endurance. You developing balance will not help your stamina. You developing your speed will not help your flexibility. While yes, some do go hand in hand like endurance and stamina or balance and coordination, strength is still the only physical skill that will make you better at everything else.
Keep this in mind.
Strength Makes You Look and Feel Better
Who will have more confidence with herself and the physical world? A woman who can deadlift 225lbs at a bodyweight of 155lbs, or a woman who struggles to pick up a full laundry basket at a bodyweight of 155lbs?
Which one of these two woman will be more comfortable in her own skin? Which one will look and feel more athletic, youthful, and energetic? Which woman is going to feel more confident carrying her baby or have the strength and capability to keep up with her children? Which woman is going to feel more confident in the bedroom and have a better overall relationship with her husband?
I don't have any scientific evidence the stronger woman will be better at these things. Yes, it is an anecdotal claim. But as a coach I have seen first hand when a person builds their physical strength capacity it changes their whole inner-persona for the better.
Stronger people are happier people. And thats just fact.
Strength Helps Build Muscle and Bone Mass, Prevents Osteoporosis
When people age they do less strenuous activities. This is when osteoporosis becomes a real threat to individuals livelihood. Osteoporosis is when bones begin to lose tissue leading to frail and brittle bones. Calcium, vitamin D, and hormonal changes as we age are the cause of this. This puts us at risk of falling and injuring ourselves severely from things that normally wouldn't do as much damage. Also as we age, we lose huge amounts of muscle mass and bone density. We become softer. We become weaker. Eventually, we end up in a wheel chair. It doesn't have to be this way, or at least it doesn't have to be this way so soon.
Studies have shown time and time again that consistent strength training helps maintain and possibly build bone mass.
Studies (and Broscience) have also shown that strength training builds muscle mass. The stronger muscle groups are, the more capacity they have to work to their limits, and the more likely it is for the body to respond by building more muscle.
By making sure to strength train progressively throughout your lifetime, you are taking action against the physical self-decay that wreaks havoc on people when they live a life devoid of hard physical activity.
Strength train so you can maintain muscle mass, have strong bones, and not be a burden to your kids and grandkids.
Helps alleviate depression and anxiety
I have yet to meet someone whose life hasn't improved from strength training. No, I am not going to make the outrageous claim that clinical depression and anxiety can be cured by physical training. All of the factors that go into treating, preventing, and curing depression are best left to the clinicians who have extensive experience in this, not barbell coaches.
However, studies have shown that aerobic activity and strength training have helped people reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.
As stated before, we are physical beings. Perhaps that pent up anxiety and depression is your body screaming at you to get up off the couch, stop playing with yourself, turn Netflix off, and go LIVE. Go do something hard physically. Our bodies evolved for a millennium under intense environmental circumstance. They crave movement, adrenaline, and social interaction. The gym. The gym is the place that you can accomplish all three of these things.
If you still aren't following me consider your loving family dog. What does your dog do when he is pent up inside for long periods of time? He usually becomes lethargic and lazy. Or he gives into his impulses and misbehaves by tearing up your couch. What happens when a dog goes outside after being inside for hours? He gets a huge burst of energy and happiness. This same inner instinct happens within all of us.
By the act of training for strength you are doing two things: You are becoming a stronger, more capable human. This will make you a happier person. You are also satisfying your innate evolutionary desire for movement and hard physical activity. Watch as that depression and anxiety dissipates after picking up a barbell.
Strength Training Makes You Smarter and Increasing Mental Cognition
As Uncle Rip mentioned in the paragraph at the start of this article, some people want the intellectual or spiritual aspect of life to take precedence. I'm not denying that intelligence isn't as important as strength. No one wants to be a dumb brute.
But what if I told you that research has shown lifting weights and strength training can make us smarter or help us maintain our mental cognition?
"Anaerobic activity like weight training, can slow the lesions that form in the white matter of the brain—the areas associated with cognitive function like thinking and memory.These findings suggest that weight training can beneficially change the structure of the brain, but that “a minimum threshold of exercise needs to be achieved...Researchers have a few different theories: Some think it’s because strength training increases the blood flow to your brain, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your nervous system. Others point to higher levels of the brain-boosting IGF-1. Or, it could be because resistance exercise increases your mood, and past research has shown us that for older adults, a better mood is linked with better cognitive performance" - Excerpt from American Geriatrics Society
I often say while deadlifts use all 640 muscles in your body, a large factor in your deadlift is your BRAIN. Deadlifts and heavy training are good for the brain as well as the musculoskeletal system. So if this article hasn't convinced you strength training is important for your body, know that it is equally important to your MIND.