Strength is the Answer

“The best bang for your buck is going to be high intensity strength training”, Dr. Peter Attia, MD from Stanford, holder of mechanical engineering and applied mathematics degrees, ultra endurance athlete, president and co-founder of NuSI, etc. etc.

This was in response to a question asked by Tim Ferriss the interviewer basically inquiring about his blanket recommendation for what everyone should be doing to preserve their health, fitness and longevity.  (check out this awesome interview here BTW with Peter covering Life-Extension, Drinking Jet Fuel, Ultra-Endurance, Human Foie Gras, and more)

Additionally there was mention of how strength training helps in optimizing mitochondrial density, glucose disposal and contributes to your overall metabolic health.

Part of the interview covers Anti-Aging and Life Extension and he comments on how aging and orthopedic issues are a result of our INABILITY TO BE STRONG. A deconditioning/process of degradation at the muscular level.

Peter’s credentials and bio are incredibly impressive hence the way I chose to start to this post.

I’ll tell you something though…

Serious strength coaches, perhaps ignorant of some of the science, have known this to be a fundamental truth, an essential ingredient, for a very long time. It’s probably an ancient understanding even if it was not often distilled or spoken about.

“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general” – Mark Rippetoe

No I’m not calling Mark Rippetoe ignorant. It’s just a great quote.

In my role as a coach, working with many different people over the years, I have observed that most are very weak. In fact “most people” are incredibly weak. This is not judgement. They literally lack the strength and stability to simply hold their own bodies in various fixed positions. To say nothing of actually moving correctly or bearing any kind of load. Basically there is no real constitution to their structure.

And since this is the case with the average American it is actually by definition “normal”! It’s crazy I tell you…

Strength is one of the most fundamental pillars missing from the lives of clients who seek our help. Therefore I view teaching basic movement patterns and progressive load bearing as the most valuable service we provide. Even though we do “conditioning” as well.

When you teach someone to activate their core, when you give them proper movement patterns for squatting, pushing, pulling and bending, when you empower them to bear a load and efficiently move that load you really are giving the gift of health, longevity and mobility. Conversely when you neglect these primary attributes and capacities of the human body you basically waste away. You can see it when you go out in public and watch people move. They do not move well. Seriously, have a conscious look when you are out in the world. It’s a slow, insidious wasting away.

Simultaneously there is a certain tragedy occurring with hordes of people mindlessly logging their cardio mileage each day, eating like shit because that’s what we’ve all been taught and basically beating the hell out of a body that really does not have the muscular and structural foundation to take that beating. Think a little bit pudgy and soft endurance hobbyist with knee issues, plantars and or shin splints. Or someone who simply thinks that in order to lose a significant amount of weight they need to do a bunch of running, or treadmill or eliptical etc. This is can actually be a really bad way to go about it.  There are much better ways to get maximal returns. And not just in the leaning department. Strength makes EVERYTHING better including your running, cycling, swimming etc. It truly is the the attribute by which all else is possible.

Some of the amazing benefits of strength training include:

  • Aforementioned optimized glucose disposal (think about clearing out the surplus of sugars and carbs that are making you fat)
  • Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. A strong body will “burn” your existing fuel more efficiently than a flabby body.
  • When you make your muscles stronger your joints feel better! To say nothing of making the actual joint and supportive structures stronger. I’m simply referring to now that you actually have strong capable muscles they will assume much more of the burden and your joints won’t have to bear all of the stress.
  • A tone body “looks better” than a body that is flaccid but might actually weight the same amount. A LOT better.
  • You will simply be more capable, less injury prone, and persist for longer without incident then you otherwise would if you never learned how build some real strength.
  • Enhanced performance in your chosen sport or endeavor.

I hope this has given you something to think about or that you can use in your own approach. Critically thinking about how your training is put together, how it fits into your life, whether or not you enjoy it and reflecting on your results and progress or lack thereof is essential!

Ian Starr

*If you’re interested in receiving guidance on how strength work might fit into your program simply click on the Colorado Strong flag below to book your complimentary consult…