Endurance |

First, strength

The basic physical qualities are strength, endurance and mobility. Ideally we train all three, but this leads to long workouts. Could it be that if we train one it’ll help the others?

If we go for a walk or run, we improve endurance, but this does nothing to make us stronger or more flexible. If we do a yoga class, this helps mobility, but doesn’t make us stronger or run faster. As for strength, if it takes 20 units of strength to run or cycle along and we have 20 units of strength, we’ll fatigue quickly; if we have 40 units of strength, we can go for longer before tiring, and can even go a bit faster. And simply dropping into a deep squat or pressing the bar overhead will stretch most people out. Because strength helps everything else, we train strength first.

At Athletic Club East, we use the principles of the Starting Strength method to train strength using the movements of everyday life. If you sit down and stand up, you squat. If you put something in a high cupboard, you press. If you pick something up off the floor you deadlift. All we do in the gym is formalise the movements and incrementally load them with a barbell.

If you lifted 20kg on Monday, lift at least 21kg on Wednesday, and so on. We choose barbells over bodyweight, dumbbells, kettlebells and machines because we can increment them in small amounts. Your bodyweight stays about the same, and other tools are in 2.5kg or greater increments; but we have 8kg barbells and 0.25kg plates. Even the 84 year old gentlemen we trained could press the 8kg barbell overhead and then 8.5kg next week, and so on – in 6 months that’d be from 8 to 20kg, not many 84yo men can press 20kg.

Later on it becomes more complicated and depends on your goals. But for the previously sedentary beginner, the first 3-6 months should focus on progressive resistance training using barbells. Nothing you can do in the gym will change your life as quickly and profoundly.

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The Starting Strength Method