Strength training is NOT for the NRL

02/07/2013

Strength training is NOT for the NRL

Why Strength Training is for ALL of us not just NRL guys?

We should all strength train to:

  • decrease body fat
  • increase bone density
  • improve power and movement performance
  • improve joint function
  • improve insulin sensitivity

There are many myths about strength training and nutrition:

“Weight training will make me too big”

“If I stop training muscle will turn to fat”

“My heart will have to work too hard if I have more muscle:”

“My joints will wear out if I use them a lot with heavy loads.”

“Cardio is better than weight training for weight loss.”

The truth is that strength training is one of the greatest things that you could do for your body!

Here’s why:

Historically all advanced cultures have had a system of physical development which works together with a nutritional and spiritual philosophy. Yoga has some quite advanced gymnastics style movements and incorporates amazing body control. Its devotees have been known to perform feats such as being buried under ground for hours without suffocating! Kung Fu masters also accomplish mind-boggling degrees of performance as do Samurai’s and Indigenous Australian tribesmen & women.

Ancient Greece, from which many aspects of European culture have developed also, valued physical development along side academic endeavors.  Bull carrying legend Milo was also a musician, poet and student of Pythagoras as well as eater of 8kg of meat per day!

In modern times many people have come to treat their body as a physical machine to carry the brain around. Only when the body revolts in pain do we reconsider the way we are treating ourselves. When the body is treated like a trash can and allowed to lie dormant for hours / weeks / months / years on end, ill-health and mental imbalance is an obvious result.

If you’ve been swayed by the myths and negative press about strength training then consider this information on strength training:

1. Maintain low body fat and a healthy hormonal environment.

Some of these benefits come through improved cell membrane sensitivity to circulating hormones, up-regulation of hormone release, more lean muscle mass increases the resting metabolic rate making it easier to stay lean on a given energy intake and decrease estrogen secreting fat mass.

2. Increased bone density

This comes through an adaptation to the mechanical stress of loading the bones, together with a high protein diet and adequate magnesium and vitamin D levels (calcium is often in oversupply for people with diets high in dairy foods creating chalk brittle bones in the absence of adequate magnesium).

3. Improved balance and joint integrity

The cost of broken hips and falls in the elderly is greatly reduced when strength training is performed on a regular basis. (interestingly Olympic lifters, who perform heavy full squats on a daily basis have very thick articular cartilage (on the ends of the bones) as have Chinese field workers who stay in the full squat position for long periods of time) If you don’t move a joint through its full range on a regular basis or if you train through partial range of motion then uneven joint cartilage and joint degeneration are more likely to develop. This is especially when nutritional deficiencies are present.

4. Strength, agility, mobility and power: the fountain of youth!

Being stronger allows you to be better at sports, play with children, move furniture and perform many other daily tasks. Taking power, strength, mobility and muscle mass into middle age and old age increases life expectancy and quality of life!

5. Improved insulin sensitivity

Diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome and many other conditions are related to poor blood sugar control. Weight training combined with healthy living increase insulin sensitivity.

Do you know of anyone who couldn’t benefit from strength training?

You might be thinking. Ok I know I should exercise. Maybe I’ll go for a run. Consider that the 2 biggest studies done on running showed that it did not help with fat loss. While it can be fun, jogging doesn’t offer the same health benefits as intelligent weight training.

For more on this consider reading Gary Taube’s book “Why we get fat and what to do about it”.