Have You Considered Strength and Conditioning?
Strength & conditioning can sound intimidating. After all, it builds up images of big dudes gritting their teeth, sweating profusely, and straining to squeeze every last bit of effort out of their ripped bodies. Of course, this description fits a small population of people.
The truth is, there is nothing to fear about strength & conditioning. It’s simply an exercise protocol designed to improve the strength of your muscles and build the endurance of your cardiovascular system.
These days, most of us live a pretty sedentary existence. We drive to work. Sit at our desk. Drive home. Sit on the couch. Eat dinner. Go to bed. Repeat until retirement.
But that lack of required activity makes training for strength & conditioning more important than ever before.
Sure, some of us work out an hour or so each day, but even that isn’t enough to be considered an active lifestyle.
Face it: our daily lives are far less likely to rely on our physical performance versus our hunter-gatherer ancestors’ lives.
Benefits of General Strength & Conditioning
1. Improved Heart Health & Weight Management
Basic strength and conditioning is a great way for you to get some much-needed exercise. Most of us don’t move enough during our day-to-day routines, which leads to easily eating more food than we can burn off – which, as you may be aware, leads to gaining fat.
Repeat that pattern day after day, year after year, and “all of a sudden,” you notice you’re fat and that you get exhausted going up the stairs.
Excess fat increases the chances of everything from strokes and heart attacks to diabetes and even some cancers. Having a lot of excess fat compounds problems by forcing your heart, blood vessels, and those weak muscles and joints to work extra hard to take care of you.
Plus, the extra fat causes unfavorable changes in hormones which negatively impacts your metabolism and ultimately impacts your desire to even want to make changes.
See the vicious cycle?
Diseases of the cardio-respiratory system killed 23.2 million people in 2019 (source World Health Organization). Many more people suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer that potentially could be prevented by improving their diets and activity levels.
While I’m not saying that improving your cardiovascular fitness will prevent you from dying of heart attack, stroke, or lung disease, I am saying that you will improve your chances of avoiding that tragic demise.
At the very least you can increase your chances of a strong recovery from those frightening life events.
If you want to achieve AND maintain a healthy weight, and you want lifelong health benefits, then you need to sustain the right habits for a lifetime.
Lucky for us, building good habits is just as do-able as building bad habits. Finding a way to incorporate strength training as well as cardio conditioning into your daily & weekly routines has long-term payoffs.
At first, these changes seem challenging. But the more you make a conscious decision to get it done, the more you’ll crave the routine of lifting weights. The key is to sneak it in so that it doesn’t feel like you’re forcing it!
There’s a good chance that when you create a habit of being active, you’ll also start paying closer attention to what you eat. You’ll find you’re more disciplined in a lot of areas of life.
If you want some tips on how to build a new habit, check out our article Top Tips for Creating New Habits.
After a while of daily activity, I’m willing to be that you’ll feel more body aches and pains when you aren’t being active!
3. Feeling Good
1) Exercise gets your heart pumping harder and faster, sending oxygen to the working muscles AND the brain. A well-oxygenated brain has been shown to be better at handling anxiety and depression.
2) Moderate to high intensity exercise releases endorphins and other feel-good chemicals that are associated with happiness. You’ve probably heard of endurance athletes getting a “runner’s high” or “second wind.”
3) Accomplishing what you once thought was out of reach is a real confidence booster! Every day, our coaches challenge someone with a heavier weight, or more reps, or being more diligent with meal adherence. Every win gives that person more confidence to handle whatever life will send their way.
4) The reflection in the mirror becomes more forgiving. Whether that image is because you are a lighter person, or more muscular, or you’ve just gained a new confidence in your “old self” is going to vary. But I promise, that person is inside you, waiting to be a part of your daily life!
5) Balancing body-building with flexibility improves posture by having your muscles work together to put your skeleton in a favorable position. When muscle strength is balanced front to back and left to right, your skeleton will naturally go where it should. Assuming you don’t have structural problems: for example, if you have scoliosis, you’ll still have scoliosis. But you might have less pain and better movement!
4. Injury Prevention
You’re at risk of getting injured every time you move! Most people throw their backs out doing such simple tasks like putting on their shoes or gardening.
Those who train their movements and improve their strength on a regular basis are far less likely to be injured.
Strength training improves your proprioception, which is a fancy word for mentally knowing how your body is moving through space at any given time. Improved proprioception lowers the chance of you moving badly that could result getting hurt.
A well-designed strength and conditioning program will strengthen not just the muscles but also the tendons, the ligaments, and the joints. It’s very common to see programs work on flexibility while working on strength and endurance.
Training strength and flexibility reduces joint-related injuries. Strength and conditioning builds stronger bones by improving bone density. Declining bone density leads to osteopenia and osteoporosis, which is so common in older women.
Ladies, I’m looking at you. If you aren’t already strength training, well, why aren’t you? I PROMISE you won’t end up looking like a bodybuilder if that isn’t what you want. It just isn’t that easy to do.
5. Faster Recovery from Injury
Unfortunately, even the most athletic people can get hurt through no fault of their own.
When fit people do get injured, they tend to recover more quickly than those who aren’t fit.
You’ve heard the stories of athletes who suffered a horrific injury and were told they’d “never walk again,” but within a year or two they’re back playing at an elite level.
The doctors were giving a prognosis for a “regular human” instead of thinking of the amazing level of mental and physical dedication of the human in front of them. It doesn’t hurt to have world-class physicians, physio-therapists, and nutritionists at your disposal either.
Maybe you won’t have that level of recovery, but you’ll definitely improve your possibilities.
How Do I Start?
Certainly, it is possible to get started with simple strength and conditioning on your own. There are plenty of online programs available for free on the internet.But if you are reading this blog, I imagine you feel less comfortable in a gym setting and might want more personalized guidance.
Consider hiring a coach who is skilled at strength & conditioning training styles. Great coaches will design a program that starts where you ARE and progressively moves you forward. Hiring a coach is a great way for you stay motivated, thus maximizing your chances of making it over the initial hurdle of getting started.
Being well-supported can make for a lifetime’s success. Of course, we have some great coaches to help you. Let us know you’re interested!