As a trainer in the 21st century, one of my primary goals is to dismantle all the false information gleaned from the internet. Our burden and our curse is living in a time where information is right at our fingertips. Recently I had the pleasure of answering the following questions. Instead of repeating myself a hundred times I have decided to share my answers online with you.
At the end of the day there are many reasons to not start a strength training program, most of these are simply excuses. These questions should set your mind at ease in regards to the difficulty of strength training, who it is appropriate for, and what to expect from a well organized training program.
1. Strength training is only for athletes.
False. Strength training requires a person to be in tune with his or her own body and abilities, but this does not dictate a pre-existing level of athleticism.
2.Strength training is too hard.
A well organized strength training program should be difficult, yes, but a good program will be designed to meet you where you are starting. There is not one movement that cannot be scaled to the appropriate level of athletic ability at the onset of a good training program.
Strength training is only as hard as you want to make it. If you decide to go easy on yourself, you will yield very few results and find little value in the training.
If you are honest with your abilities, and challenge yourself (not push yourself to throw up every training session), you will yield beautiful and magnificent results.
3. The average person has no need for strength training programs. They focus on a mental toughness that is meant for athletes, not the common man.
In all fairness, the average person has very little knowledge of how their body actually works. The human body is incredible, in more ways than can be counted, the mind is one of the many remarkable features of the human body. Just like a muscle, it too can be trained; to become stronger, more resilient, to work more efficiently.
Ask yourself this question, do you encounter moments throughout your week where you have to exhibit mental toughness? Perhaps patience with another colleague who gets under your skin? Maybe your children or other relatives? Training mental toughness during your workouts and overcoming them, will only spill over to the personal areas of your life and make you a better, well-rounded individual.
4. I don’t like doing heavy weights, cardio, mobility, etc.
How many of your friends and family love eating vegetables? We’re not talking vegetarians or vegans who choose to eat this way. We’re talking your average Joe who enjoys steak, chicken, fish, or burgers over a kale salad. The number you’re thinking of is probably close to zero. Why do we eat these foods? Because we know they are good for us and so despite our inner protests, we eat them to allow our bodies to function optimally.
Heavy weights, cardio, and mobility are all smaller pieces to a bigger picture. Focusing on one of these exclusively will lead to an imbalance in your physical health. You need mobility to move safely, you need cardio to keep your cardiovascular system in prime condition, and you need heavy weights (whatever that is for you, because it looks different for each person) to increase bone mineral density and decrease the likelihood of acquiring a deficiency that could otherwise be avoided. Only focusing on heavy weights will negatively affect mobility, only focusing on cardio could lead to decrease joint and bone health, and only focusing on mobility will lead to a lack of stability in the new ranges of motion that you’ve created.
5. I enjoy eating fast food, drinking alcohol, and candy. I will never get to my ideal image because I refuse to give these up, why should I start training when I know it’s futile?
Ask any honest professional athlete, collegiate athlete, trainer, nutritionist, or fitness enthusiast (who isn’t on some fad diet) and they will very likely tell you that they eat all those things. Most of them have what the mainstream would call “good physique” and they do not have to sacrifice the things they enjoy to achieve their desired fitness goals.
The difference is they do not consume these items all day, every day. Practicing moderation in your eating habits will lead to positive physical changes, guaranteed. Under eating, over eating, and binging on junk food will definitely yield negative results. This is not rocket science just keep it simple.
6. I do not have time to reach my goals, I’d have to be a professional athlete with tons of free time to reach my ideal body.
Everyone in this world is given 24 hours to live out daily. If you sleep for a full eight hours, work for another eight, use up another six for eating, and give yourself two hours to get to and from a training facility AND workout, you will 24 hours under your belt. The two hours you spent getting to and from the gym and working out consumes 8.3% of your day.
Realistically, how many of us actually sleep a full eight hours, work a full eight, or even get two hours to prepare and eat each meal? Let’s assume that work and sleep are constants that require eight hours each, this gives us a whole eight hours left in the day to do whatever we want with, some of this will go towards eating, let’s say five hours (still a bit too gracious, but let’s run with it). This gives everyone three hours to divvy up however they see fit. If you cannot justify spending an hour to workout and better yourself (which is only 4.16% of each day) than yes, you are correct. You will never reach your goals and you will continue to look and feel the way you are now.
For those who automatically begin to make excuses revolving around drive time, commuting, etc.; know two things: One, you do not have to workout in a gym everyday to achieve your desired fitness goals (you don’t even need weights!). Two, the fact that you are making excuses are signs that you are too lazy and immature to begin a training program anyway. Assess yourself, right now, and decide how important your health is to you, your family, and your friends.
7. My genetics are bad, I cannot achieve the results I want.
Every person has a different genetic makeup, no doubt about it. To say that your genetic makeup prevents your body from doing what it is designed to do (which is moving), is to admit you know nothing about your body. Some people are predisposed to being better at some tasks than others, but the only way to become better at anything is to practice. No writer ever got better at writing by not writing. No pilot ever got better at flying by refusing to fly. No scholar ever became more knowledgeable by not reading. This logic, thinking you were not designed to move well, is not only flawed, but completely ignorant.
The human body is designed to move and just because your body has forgotten basic movement patterns that every child can accomplish, does not mean you cannot move a particular way. It will take some longer than others to re-learn these movement patterns, but it’s all based on the use it or lose it principle. So do it, learn it, and don’t let it happen again!
8. I have physical limitations. I physically cannot do exercise A, B, or C.
Unfortunately, this may be true, corrective surgeries have come a long way, but there are those who have undergone surgery that may affect a normal range of motion. In this scenario, a suitable range of motion should be established that does not impair or compromise overall health of the body and this range will be the standard by which we gauge progress. Consult with your fitness professional and doctors about what a healthy range of motion should be for you.
9. How can I “lift heavy” and not use weights?
Gymnasts “lift heavy” all the time using nothing but their body weight. Have you ever done a freestanding hand stand push up? Probably not, because it takes a great level of strength and mastery over your own body to be able to accomplish such an incredible feat. Where do these gymnasts start? The learn how to control their midsection, then they learn how to do a push up, then they learn how to stabilize weight over their head, and so on until they can do the described exercise. Heavy is a relative term that is translated differently to each and every person. To a novice in weightlifting, a “heavy weight” may be a 45lb bar. To a seasoned weightlifter, a “heavy weight” may look more like 445lb on a bar.
from Trevor’s professional blog: https://allthingsstrength.wordpress.com
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