Is it the total amount of weight? Bodyweight to weight lifted? Or your own personal criteria?
Before we answer that question, let’s talk a little.
In Long Island, when I was one of the PT managers at a gym in Amityville, all of my clients trained to get stronger. All of them. Most of them came to me with specific goals in mind but all of them needed strength.
I specifically remember one client, an older man who ran his own accounting firm, who looked like he missed about 40 years of physical activity. After starting off slow to get him used to using his body for exercise and not just pushing paper; I turned it up a notch.
Not once did I put a bar on his back, he didn’t need it, but we worked on goblet squats, KB squats, lots of posterior chain, back work and various other exercises meant to bring his body up to speed in the most efficient way possible.
One session he asked me, “why do we work on strength so much, this is hard work”
My simple reply to him, “you can never be too strong, brother”.
He laughed because by this point he knew my personality well and proceeded to get to work.
After a few months of working with him; his back pain was all but gone, he was able to move better and was stronger.
When I moved to Ohio he gave me a going away present his wife made.
Funny how a simple phrase, said once, can have a lasting impact in a man’s memory.
Such how strength is.
Its what we all want to be whether we admit it or not. Not everyone wants to look like a bodybuilder, not everyone wants to run a marathon, not everyone wants to swim 20 laps. We all would like to make everyday tasks easier. Those that compete want to increase their total. Those that lift casually want to add weight to the bar. Those with injuries or suffering from joint pain would love to be able to be stronger to heal those aches.
Strength is the one thing that directly helps all other physical activity.
With strength, you grow in body and mind. You feel more powerful. You increase confidence and you look better.
That may be preaching to the choir, as most of us know what strength means, but to an old man who never touched a weight in his life; this was a foreign concept.
He bought in fully to that concept, as every single one of my clients have over my decade plus of training people. You make a man/woman stronger, and you increase their quality of life.
So what is strength? To me its reaching a goal I have in mind, its returning to the platform after an injury and a beat up body at 38. To a lifter with a pro total it is increasing his numbers and winning the next meet. To an average gym rat its one more rep, its a new PR away from the record books. To an old man, its alleviating pain in his body so everyday tasks can be easier. To a woman with fused vertebrae, its regaining some mobility so she can do her gardening without pain.
To each of us, the word strength isn’t a number, its a feel. Its you and your own criteria. Strength is built in the confines of your mind, in solitude, in silence. You may have training partners, you may train alone. You may have a trainer giving you a workout, you may buy a book to help you. You may be scared to go into the gym because you feel overwhelmed, or you may walk in like its your home. You may have some horrible inner demons to deal with, you may have a picture perfect life. You may have problems paying bills, you may have thousands in savings with no worries on the horizons.
But when it comes to strength, it doesn’t care about that. It only cares about the time, effort, sacrifice and pure will it takes to push your body to places previously not reachable.
It takes work and the end result, what you deem strong for you personally, is up to your own definition and up to your own dedication to putting aside everything in life – for that time you spend in the gym – and taking control of the one thing we can control. Our own results and our own destination.
That is strength. Its not numbers on a leaderboard, its not the best lifter award, its not a PR set in silence, its what you judge your own goals to be and its reaching them despite the world around you.
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Check out Pump, Dump, and Hump; a fitness group based around health, lifting, and sexuality run by my wife and myself.
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