Make time for health, or make time for sickness. Anyone at any age, gender, or fitness level can enjoy great physical progress with this program. We approach health with a Kaizen focus: small improvements over time that lead up to huge changes. In this Intel, we’ll discuss why strength training is so beneficial, the best fitness program we’ve found for making progress, nutrition tips, and more. Let’s roll.
“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” -Socrates
WHY STRENGTH TRAINING OVER OTHER TYPES OF FITNESS?
If you want to be a better painter, you practice painting. But when you become a great painter, and then want to try 3D design software, you’re still going to have to start over from the beginning. However, you’ll probably make much faster progress than someone without painting skills!
This is how fitness works. You choose a form of training, and you get better at that specific way of moving. Powerlifters can lift very heavy things for a short time, but probably can’t run long distances. Cross-country runners can outrun a gymnast, but would struggle to complete 20 pullups.
The best fitness program is whatever matches your personal goals. How you want to excel is up to you! The common thread between all forms of exercise is improvement of your health, and that’s what really matters. There are also a few unique benefits to strength training you might not find in other forms of movement!
Strength training, first and foremost, makes you stronger!
What is the best thing about this? Being able to carry 37 grocery bags in one trip, so you don’t have to make another one. But seriously, functional strength will help in your daily life. It’s a great feeling to be strong for your size, and that’s an important qualifier. Being strong means different things for people at particular ages, heights, or with unique conditions, so don’t compare yourself with others. You also get to carry this internal feeling of strength all through the day, which helps with confidence and control.
Strength training will improve your posture, body mechanics, energy, and mood.
While not unique to strength training, your endorphins and energy level will drastically increase with consistent workouts. Also, focusing on excellent form while you are completing heavy lifts will improve your attention to posture and body mechanics. When you practice using your muscles in the proper position, it’s easier to keep them that way during rest. Fight the terrible slouch we all get at the computer desk of death!
Strength training will greatly increase weight loss efficiency over other forms of exercise.
A body with muscle mass takes more calories to build and maintain per day then a body without much muscle. Don’t fall into the trap of cardio only, where you run for miles and miles and wonder why you aren’t shredding the weight or looking “toned”. You need muscle growth to drop pounds and look fit. If your goal is to lose weight, your battle is going to be 80% nutrition anyway.
More benefits to strength training include disease prevention, better sleep, and injury resistance.
Remember, it’s helpful to choose just one form of fitness to improve at a time. Once you’re happy with your strength, you can maintain that level of performance while working on another program, like running or flexibility. If we’ve sold you on exploring strength training, let’s go over some of the basic principles every program includes.
BASIC PRINCIPLES TO STRENGTH TRAINING
Any strength training program will contain a few key principles to ensure you’re making progress. Just like Kaizen, strength training works by slowly increasing your workload and measuring your performance. Here are some terms you’ll need to know:
A rep is one motion of an exercise, like one pushup or one squat. A set is a group of reps, like 8 squats. You will commonly see this expressed like, “Bench x 5 (sets) x 5 (reps)”
Exercises like the squat are “full-body” or “compound”, and use many different large muscle groups to complete. Bicep curls are specific, and usually only work the biceps (Curls are really for show. You shouldn’t focus on them, and may never actually need them). A good program has a strong focus on full-body lifts with secondary muscle-specific exercises to pick up any weaknesses.
If you can squat 100 pounds for 5 reps, awesome! If you continue to only squat 100 pounds for 5 reps, you will never get stronger. Strength training works by putting stress on your muscle fibers that cause them to break down with micro-tears. Then, the magic happens during rest.
Rest & Recovery.
During time between workouts our muscles repair themselves to be stronger than before, because our bodies are incredible and awesome survival machines. Always make sure you are getting enough rest and sleep between exercises.
THE BEST FITNESS PROGRAM TO IMPROVE YOUR STRENGTH WITH KAIZEN
For this specific program, you’ll need a gym membership. We’ve mentioned the squat a few times before, because it’s arguably the #1 lift you can complete to gain full-body strength. There are a few other exercises below that will help you make maximum progress and stay balanced. Some programs are filled with 20 different lifts, and it quickly gets overwhelming. Focus on what works, and improve your numbers. That’s all.
Each exercise is linked to a tutorial, but you will also find video instructions in the program we are about to introduce: 5x5. This is a method of training that has been used, revised, and rebranded over and over again by the fitness community. It’s stood the test of time, and it works. Each workout, you’ll complete just a few compound lifts for five sets of five reps each. Then, you’ll go home and rest. Nothing fancy, just effective. The program and free app we use, called Stronglifts, follows this structure:
Workout 3x a week. Rest a day in-between workouts. Alternate between workout A and B.
Overhead Press 5x5
Each workout, increase the weight of each lift by only 5 lbs.
That’s all. Nice and easy. Yes, you’re squatting every single workout. Your legs are pistons, they can handle it. You’ll learn to love it, and you’ll be amazed at how much progress you will make. Don’t increase the weight of any lift until you can complete 5 full reps. Feel free to fail, that’s where growth happens.
THE FREE STRONGLIFTS APP THAT MAKES THIS TOO EASY
We love Stronglifts, and you should check out the full program, tutorials, and details here. This app will help you with starting weight, proper form, tracking workouts, and even timing your rest in between sets. As always, if you have any outstanding medical conditions, discuss with your doctor or physical trainer to make sure this program is right for you!
THE MOST IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE WE DIDN’T MENTION YET
Consistency. Make a pact to stick with this program for six months. You’ll love the first three months and see some incredible gains. You will also struggle through the backend, and your progress will slow. But the most dangerous thing to do is think, “This program isn’t working,” and switch to something new. It’s just the law of diminishing returns over time. Work the numbers. Stop motivating yourself and start measuring yourself.
WHY YOU WON’T MAKE PROGRESS WITHOUT PROPER NUTRITION
Everyone struggles with proper nutrition, and without it even the best fitness program in the world won’t save you. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.” Well, you still have to change! That’s always difficult. Don’t give up. If you continue to work on finding healthy foods you enjoy, you’ll soon realize how good it feels to eat things that fuel your body, instead of processed chemicals that actually hinder your progress.
Plants and animals.
It really is that easy. If you can make plants and animals 80% of your diet, you’re going to do great. Once you’ve been doing that for a while, then we can start worrying about organics, vitamin enhancement, supplements, and all of the other things that can take someone to the next level. But trying to build the perfect diet plan right out of the gate is too overwhelming, and you’ll still make massive progress with the fundamentals.
The one thing you need to monitor is protein.
Most of us get plenty (read: too much) carbs and fats. Protein is what builds muscle, and many sources say to aim for eating at least 100 – 200 grams a day when strength training. That’s tough to get sometimes! The gold standard is chicken, of course. Find a way to implement it into multiple meals a day. Steak, fish, eggs, and powder are all other sources of protein you can use to hit your daily numbers. Use the Lose It! app to easily track all things nutrition.
Leave a comment: In the name of your health, let’s get to work! Will you commit to strength training with us, or at least take a look at the app and program in depth? We can even check in with you down the line to see how you’re doing!
Bonus: Download the 10-Minute Maintenance Routine for an excellent warmup or morning primer.
STAY LOOSE AND PREPARED FOR ANYTHING WITH THE CONQUER TODAY TEN-MINUTE MAINTENANCE ROUTINE
+ Fight lower back pain
+ Correct your posture
+ Improve your breathing