One of the biggest lessons I teach as a coach is that strength is a fitness skill that must be practiced and that it is about far more than just muscle.
The idea that “being strong” means “being buff” is living rent free in far too many of our young female minds, we need to evict that notion before we can move on to why strength and being strong is so relevant in our lives.
In order to be strong, you need to practice flawless application. It’s not about just lifting weights, dropping bars and violating the chalk bucket. Developing strength requires practicing technique in order to achieve efficiency, practicing tension, and focusing on quality over quantity. When you learn how to do something properly, you are able to apply that fitness skill more competently and improve the outcomes, as with any application in life.
The more you practice, the more you create habit through movement.
When you treat “getting strong” as a fitness skill, you start making progress
Improvement and growth is not shown through the depth of the pool of sweat you lying in, or the pitch of your grunts while you curl. Being better at being “strong” is evident in your rate of exertion, in your progress in strength and application of your “fitness skill”.
The biggest apprehension women today have about developing physical strength, getting strong and being strong is that notion that strength means size. I will tell you as a 48kg world powerlifting champion that when Louis Simmons said “Big ain’t strong, strong is strong” he spoke of strength and not size.
I walk around at 51kgs with a body fat of 10% off season, all whilst generally lifting a capacity of well over six times my bodyweight. It’s not genetics, it took years of hard work and dedication, and commitment to my new fitness skill. With my development of physical strength came symmetry, a continuous drop in body fat, stronger bones, improved metabolism and overall better health.
As any experienced coach will tell you, it’s not about what you burn in your workout, it’s about what you burn in the hours following your session. Training for strength, and lifting heavier weights increases your metabolism which forces your body to burn more calories.
On that note however, lifting the same heavy object day in and day out for months on end will get you nowhere. This is where the rule of progressive overload comes in to play. Training for strength is about adaptation. You lift a 20kg bar above your head every day for weeks on end and your body is going to build itself up in preparation for it, your body adapts and this no longer becomes a challenge. You need to add more weight, or more sets, or shorten your rest – present a new challenge.
When it comes to training for strength, I like to stick to the essentials, as weightlifting coach Eric Bach so clearly put it “Success lies in the ruthless execution of the basics.” Big exercises give big results. I hate gimmicks and gadgets and new ideas. Don’t waste time on the small things when it’s the big things that make big changes.
We as women should not be subjected to the “yes no” machines, ab classes, stomach crunches and butt blasters. With strength, it’s all about the fundamentals. Sticking to the basics have worked for centuries. If you want to get strong and lose fat do big exercises: deadlifts, strict presses, squats, rows, pull ups, dips and pushups.
Developing physical strength requires abominable mental strength. If you don’t have it when you start, you will have it when you finish. Physical and mental strength go hand in hand, acquiring a fitness skill in a field where stress is forced on the body requires an ability that far surpasses what we are physically capable.
The pursuit for strength lies in the will of your mind.
Developing power and tenacity will change the way you see the world. It will change the way the world sees you, learn to build your body and it will build your character.
Personally, as a woman it’s not just about achieving a “great body” there is something empowering about being feminine, being a woman and being able to lift heavy.