If you asked people to rank their top five fitness goals, most of them will peg ‘getting stronger’ near the end. Losing weight, getting abs, building muscle (and curves), and toning up are probably going to be more common, especially for women. For men, getting stronger might be a bit more appealing.
Getting stronger is one of those goals that people commonly have yet are unable to measure because they may not know what ‘getting stronger’ means. However, since it is a common goal, it’ll be worth to regularly ask yourself how getting stronger will benefit you. For many people, getting stronger makes their lives easier. They perform better at a job that requires physical labor. They can walk easier, go up stairs easier, pick things up easier.
What does getting stronger mean to you?
How will your life improve by getting stronger?
While getting stronger may sound ‘not so sexy’, it’s really one of the biggest life changers. I feel this way about getting stronger because it can the potential to have a far more positive impact on your psychology than simply losing weight or building muscle.
Please don’t get me wrong – looking good is still a high priority. While looking better is a very worthwhile goal and everyone should have it, getting stronger has the ability to improve many intangibles.
Here are a few prime examples:
- Ashley is able to perform her job as an occupational therapist much better because of her improved strength – people never imagined she’d be as strong as she is
- Monica was able to speed up her recovery from a fall and subsequent surgery because her muscles were so strong – even after six kids
- Before our training together, Maura felt defeated physically and mentally because of her battle with cancer – with improved strength, she’s able to show herself that her body is still amazing and capable
What’s the best way to get stronger?
The best way to get stronger is, without a shadow of a doubt, to resistance train. This can be either with your body or with external load, like machines and free weights. When you use your muscles by contracting them, they’re going to get stronger. It’s part of the biological process, and it’s been around for millions of years to keep us alive.
If we want to go down the spectrum of how to get stronger relatively, though, simply doing more physically than what you’re currently doing will get you stronger. If you’re a couch potato and you go for a 10 minute walk, you’ll get stronger over time.
Is all strength created equal?
Let’s say you’re a couch potato, and you want to figure out how to get stronger. You compare going for a 10 minute walk versus doing a 10 minute resistance training program. They’re both more intense than sitting on the couch, and they’ll both get you stronger. The next question is: in what way?
Whereas going for a walk will get you stronger in the walking department and help out with conditioning a bit, resistance training will use your muscles more, helping you perform activities of daily living better, pick up heavy stuff, and protect your joints and bones better.
Can I lift but not want to get strong?
Yes, but I feel that would be a waste of time. Since one of the benefits of resistance training is to help build strength, it’s best used for that purpose. I try to avoid doing any extraneous stuff that uses energy yet doesn’t help me achieve my goals. If you want to lose weight, watch your nutrition and do more cardio. While many people may say they want to ‘tone’ with lifting weights, they’re actually getting stronger the more toned they get.
The point I want to drive home is that getting stronger adds more to your metric toolbox. If your main goal is to lose weight, then that’s your only metric. However, if you add in “get stronger”, then we have more progress to play with, and that alone can help you stay more motivated and process-focused.
If you’re losing weight and improving your push-ups, that’s a win/win, right?
If strength is not a major goal for you now, I hope we can make it one. It doesn’t have to be the main goal – just an important one to keep track of. It’ll keep you more motivated, empower you, and improve the overall relationship you have with your body.