This article is all about strength; the benefits, best training methods and exercise tutorial.
Strength is an expression of one’s ability to exert force against a resistance – usually a percentage of or exceeding one’s body weight. The power lifter, body builder or strong man are synonymous with this component of fitness.
However, contention rages regarding what constitutes as ‘real’ or ‘functional’ strength as opposed to ‘static’ or ‘synthetic’ strength.
The former would be modelled by the gymnast who, though perhaps unable to bench press their body weight, can with ease perform highly complex controlled movements such as the crucifix. Static strength, by contrast, is seen in the highly-muscled weightlifter who can bench above his (or her) body weight but couldn’t perform 5 strict pull-ups.
Why strength training is important?
First the low hanging fruit answer: because by being stronger we are better able to meet the demands of daily existence; such as humping the shopping from the trolley into the boot of the car, squatting up off the toilet, reaching from the couch to retrieve the remote from the coffee table, etc., etc. But there are other reasons why strength training is important. For example, the American Heart Association recommends strength training because it has been shown to help ‘protect your body from injury’ whilst also boosting ‘your metabolic rate, which means you’ll burn more calories even when your body is at rest'.
But there’s more. The Harvard Medical School maintains that regular strength training can reduce age-induced muscular atrophy; that is, the rate at which our muscles lose their size and strength as we get older. ‘The average 30-year-old will lose about a quarter of his or her muscle strength by age 70 and half of it by age 90'.
By consistently engaging in strength-based training, preferably whilst we’re young, we can significantly slow this inexorable and inevitable decline maintaining into our advanced years a robust and strong physicality.
Can strength training burn fat?
The short answer: No – not really. To encourage the body to metabolise fat we need to stimulate the cardiovascular system, which means running, rowing, cycling, etc. Though strength training does of course burn more calories than, say, sitting down in front of the TV, in comparison to cardiovascular training it is a hugely inferior fat fighter. Still incredulous? Conduct a spot research and go compare the physiques of world strong men with those of triathletes.