I’ve heard many people say things like “I just wanna get big, not strong” and “I don’t care about strength, all I want is to get ripped”. Other times, they say worse things like “I just came to workout a little” and “I don’t want to get huge like Arnold!” The latter is the funniest, because if you add some weight to the bar, you will surely wake up in the morning looking like Arnold… Common! Do you really think so?
|Poor Arnold, nobody wants to look like him...|
Strength is the foundation you need to build before anything, whatever your goals are. To gain 20 kg of lean muscle, you need to get stronger. You ain’t gonna gain a lot of muscle lifting the same weights year after year, especially if you’re weak. If your goal is fat loss, lifting big weights will make you many more calories, and even if you diet to lose weight, if you don’t strength train, you will lose all your muscle and end up like a scrawny kid.
To get bigger, you have to get stronger first. Actually, by focusing on getting stronger, you’ll get bigger. Unless you are on the juice, and even then, to gain a lot of muscle you have to gain a lot of strength. Just have a look to any strength athlete (strongmen, Olympic lifters, powerlifters), they all have a lot of muscle, without training for it. Even the gymnasts who compete on the rings and on the pommel horse, where any extra bodyweight makes everything harder, are incredibly muscular, being gaining weight their last objective, because they are training for relative strength.
In case you aim to lose weight and get shredded, the most important thing is your diet. If you consume more calories than you burn, there is no way you are going to lose weight. Once you are in a calorie deficit, if you don’t keep your strength, you are going to lose fat AND muscle, ending up soft and weak.
If all you care about is health, the best thing you can do is train for strength. A hundred years ago, nobody had a doubt that strength and health went hand in hand. As George Hackenschmidt said, “Health can never be divorced from strength.” Strength training will keep you healthy as long as you eat real food and don’t go balls to the wall every single day.
Wanna be a better athlete? Get stronger, and practice your sport. Everything else being equal, the stronger athlete wins. Strength is the base for any athletic attribute. Charlie Francis, Ben Johnson’s coach, had him strength training during the off-season, and doing triples to maintain his strength during the season, and thus his speed. Ben was squatting with 700 lbs and running the 100 m under 10 s, all at a bodyweight of 180 lbs.
Tim Grover, Michael Jordan’s coach, noticed that by increasing his athletes’ strength, he was also lowering their average cardiac rhythm during their games, as running, jumping and throwing became less tiring for them. Everything is easier when you are stronger.
If I ask two guys to lift a 140 lbs sandbag from the ground and put it on a table twenty times in five minutes, who do you think will get more tired, the one that only does cardio for 15 hours a week, or the one that has never done any kind of cardio but can lift a 280 lbs sandbag? I’ll tell you, the former may not even be able to lift the sandbag once, and if he does, he’s going to have a hard time getting the 20 reps under 5 minutes. However, the stronger guy who does not even know what cardio is, will have no problem with the challenge, as a 140 lbs sandbag feels relatively light to him. So, even if he is not in “great shape”, he’ll do much better than to cardio guy in this resistance challenge.
That is because when you are doing real hard heavy exercises, even just one rep can leave you gasping. Have you ever tried shouldering a 200 lbs sandbag? If you are not familiar with this kind of lifts, it is a great eye opener about real strength and conditioning.
Seriously, what kind of person could not want to get stronger? If you are a woman, being weak and soft is not attractive, because strength is what forms the character, and what kind of man is attracted by a weak and characterless woman? I’ll tell you, a man you cannot trust. Women would do much better in life if they all got stronger in body, mind and spirit.
If you are a man, how could you not want to be strong? Is it possible to be weak and feel like a man at the same time? How are you going to protect your girl? And how are you going to defend yourself from those assholes that keep threatening you? To be strong is essential, and being weak means you are missing something very important.
One of the things I love the most is how good you feel when you see you are getting stronger, how this feeling is translated to every aspect of your life, and that you start being strong in everything you do.
As a final point, is there something more primal than lifting something heavy from to ground to overhead? Maybe some of you do not know this, but it feels awesome! Wouldn’t you like to be able to gram anyone, and lift him over your head? And what about lifting a car by yourself? That is better than any party trick you know.
I could keep writing for hours on end about many of the reasons you have to get stronger, and why you should do it no matter what your goal is. I hope you got it.
To read this post in Spanish, click here.