WHY GET STRONG?
PHYSICAL STRENGTH IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE. THIS IS TRUE WHETHER WE WANT IT TO BE OR NOT.
That’s the opening line from Starting Strength, Basic Barbell Training. To the uninitiated, it may sound hyperbolic. But as you begin strength training, you realize all of the ways in which it rings true.
Far more than just the concern of competitive weightlifters, strength is the most critical aspect of physical fitness for everyone. Taken literally, strength is the ability to produce force against an external resistance – which means it is an absolute requirement to function normally as a human. Muscles contract to operate joints, which enable us to move around and make ourselves useful. Without enough strength, we fail to effectively interact with our environment. Without enough strength, our physical interactions are suboptimal.
Apply that concept as we age past our 30s and, by the cruel hand of biology, we all begin to degenerate. Loss of muscle mass is known as sarcopenia and it is a natural part of getting older - making us slower, weaker, less mobile, more injury prone, and less able to manage critically important hormones like testosterone and insulin. The results are debilitating over time and underpin a significant proportion of modern health issues, as is thoroughly explained in The Barbell Prescription.
Apply that same concept to the younger population. Strength is the difference between excelling at a sport, or lacking the physical resources to be explosive, powerful, fast, agile, and durable. It’s improved body-shape and the resulting confidence it inspires during our developmental years. It’s a way for women to narrow the biological gap in strength when compared to men. It’s the life lesson to not give up when things get hard. It’s self-esteem. It’s presence. It’s capability. And it increases quality of life whether you’re 17 or 72.
WHY TRAIN FOR STRENGTH?
Exercise is NOT the same as training.
Training differs from exercising in that it is the most direct route towards achieving a goal. Training is the carefully planned and executed process of intentionally becoming physically better than you are now. Exercising is merely performing physical activity for its own sake, in an unplanned way, with no thought about an ultimate goal. At best, it may improve your overall health; at worst it can be unproductive, or even dangerous. Since we are all limited in the amount of time we can dedicate to fitness, training is a far better use of time than exercising.
This is why we train. With the goal of getting strong. For those that are familiar with Starting Strength, it's clear that strength training is the best use of time in the gym. Our bodies are efficient biological machines that adapt to our environment. In this modern world of convenience and automation, we are weak (or at least not very strong) unless we train for strength.
We don’t train for conditioning specifically because for unadapted trainees, conditioning improves (as measured by v02 max) during the process of getting strong. And improving one's strength has much more carryover into daily life than extreme conditioning does. For those trainees that need to add additional conditioning to their regimen, we suggest pursuing sports and activities outside of the gym, because using your newly acquired strength to do things you enjoy is usually a more enjoyable alternative the hamster-on-a-wheel approach found in most commercial gyms.
WHAT IS STARTING STRENGTH?
Starting Strength is a strength training system designed to safely and efficiently improve strength, health, and athletic performance.
Starting Strength answers the question – how do I get strong? And the answer includes how often to train, what exercises to perform, how to perform them, how many times to perform them, and everything in between. It makes the complex simple.
Starting Strength started as an observation that to become strong, full body movements must be used, over a complete range of motion, with weight that increases over time. With these criteria in mind It’s obvious that a bicep curl machine will not make you strong. Yes, it may make your arm stronger, but not all of you. Which is why we use barbells, because they require that your body work as a system. And since the body is working as a system, more weight can be used, and that weight can continue to increase over time, resulting in continual progress.
Although the program is simple, the execution of it is precise. To lift weights three times per week, and increase the weight on the bar each time, the program needs to be applied specifically to you as an individual. Reps, sets, frequency, and exercise selection will vary based on age, sex, fitness level, and health status. Recovery tactics will vary depending on a variety of factors. And executing the lifts with perfect technique is critical to making continued progress. Which is why training under the guidance of a Starting Strength Coach is critically important.
THE IMPORTANCE OF COACHING
Starting Strength Coaches possess the most advanced certification in the industry.
Starting Strength Gyms aren’t rooms filled with equipment for trainees to figure how to use. Starting Strength Gyms exist to provide trainees access to a Starting Strength Coach. Each trainee receives dedicated coaching, to enable them to move in line with the Starting Strength model. The coach trainee-relationship is the most important part of Starting Strength Gyms because effective coaching and programming is what enables you as the trainee to get strong quickly, consistently, and as safely as possible.
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