Becoming fit is one of the most common goals a normal person could have when they decide to begin training at a gym. Apart from powerlifters and people with specific issues they want to address most of our prospective clients will say something like “I just want to get more fit” when they come in. The problem is, in general this is a terrible goal to have.There are two things I think of when I think of ‘fitness’. The first is the group classes, the 30 minutes of plyometrics, the weight loss challenges, the unsustainable, absurdly low-calorie diets… and the inevitable injury or bodyweight gain rebound after. The second is the smarter people who come in saying they want to be fit for X or Y activity. “I want to be fit to run.” The problem here is that most of those people equate doing their activity with being fit and they want to do it without laying any kind of baseline first. Poor posture, lack of breath control, inefficient and uncoordinated movement in general; those are roadblocks that most normal people do have that must be overcome before jumping into that fun weekend warrior endeavor. Just running more does not mean you are ready to run in the first place! Tackling a few hundred burpees when you can’t keep a tight core and neutral spine on a full pushup and can’t do a flat-footed squat without your knees bowing in—you are in for a bad time.
I really like Brett Jones’ quote: “the only place that fitness comes before health is in the dictionary.” What is training for health? Training for health is about quality. Training for health should make a person better at other activities as a byproduct, and not necessarily be a goal unto itself. There shouldn’t be a risk of injury—no 100 rep box jump workouts without rhyme or reason, for example.
This brings us to the pursuit of strength. Proper strength training absolutely necessitates quality and efficient movement. It’s easy to get your heart rate up with crappy movement and sloppy form. In fact, being inefficient makes that easier, which is why it’s popular in the fitness world today to actually pursue inefficient training modalities for ‘a better workout.’ This is ridiculous. More difficult =/= better, more =/= better… better = better. Better movement, better form, better long-term benefits. It is difficult and dangerous to build strength on top of uncoordinated movement, so the way we strength train, while not easy or simple, is precise and careful. Move well with added load to get stronger.
Becoming physically stronger has practical day to day applications. The risk of random injuries bending down to pick things up off the floor or carrying boxes around are decreased. Practical chronic adaptations like increased bone density and muscle mass build a more resilient body against wear and tear and simple aging. And finally, proper strength training will indeed help whatever other workouts one might want to do, like running or plyometrics or an aerobics class. Imagine returning to that burpee hell session with a strong core, stable shoulders, and a good squat pattern. The chances of blowing out a knee or shoulder or spending the rest of the evening with low back pain are much lower.
Our philosophy is one of sustainability. Pursue whichever activities you enjoy, just be wary of the risks. Prioritize health over random acts of ‘fitness’. Use strength to build a base of movement and bring balance to your other physical endeavors.
written by Aris DemarcoIf you’re looking for help getting stronger, improving your technique, or you’d like to meet with one of our instructors for a free consultation, please give us a call at (520)445-6800 today and we’ll be happy to help. OR, fill out the information below and we can reach out to you.