P I T

October 30, 2014

Strength Before Conditioning

By Irving Henson, PIT Personal Trainer

A lot of personal training programs in today’s gyms focus on metabolic conditioning. Everyone wants to have a good sweat when they train. They want to feel exhausted and sore after a session at the gym. They want to feel good that they accomplished something. They want to feel like a badass.

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That’s all good really.

But is it advisable to continuously do bootcamp style workouts or metcons?

Does doing more “crossfit style” workouts make you better at crossfit?

I put it in inverted commas because many people think crossfit is all just about doing metcons.  Well, crossfit is not all about Metcons. But I’ll leave it to the crossfit boxes to explain that to you.

Here’s something to think about –

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Let’s say you were given a Metcon workout where you had to do 20 chin-ups as one of the challenges. But you can only do 5. Here are your options.

  1. Do you kip? Or put a band around the bar to help you get the chinup?
  2. Do you train to get stronger so that you can do 20 actual chin-ups?
  3. Do you say ‘f#ck it, give me a lat pull down machine and get my personal trainer to stand behind me and get him to push down with each rep so that I can pull that weight down.’

 

Which option would benefit you more?

The term strength and conditioning is used very loosely nowadays. But as PITMaster Herman likes to say, “If not strong, condition what?” He’s right. Without strength there is really nothing to condition.

At the PIT, we like to use the term Strength before Conditioning.

Here’s a few other examples on how strength is an important factor in a program.

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Hypertrophy – This meaning you want to have muscle growth. Now imagine doing an exercise with 20kg for 10 reps. Then compare it with doing 60kg for 10 reps. Which will benefit you more?

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Fat loss – You’ve heard it all before, to lose weight, you have to do more heavy lifting and not as much cardio as you think. This is because you increase your metabolism when you have more muscle, yada yada yada. Now, read the above paragraph on hypertrophy again. Of course, to optimize fatloss (or anything really), A combination of exercise and a sustainable diet plan must be in place.

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Sports performance – When you are strong, you produce more force.

Force = Mass x Acceleration.

So if you pushed 100kg at 2m/s/s, then your force would be 200N. Whereas if you pushed only 30kg at 2m/s/s, your force would only be 60N. So while the speed(acceleration) remains the same, the force output is still smaller. ( My physics teacher from secondary school would be proud )

So, the next worry that people have is that “by being stronger it will slow you down”. Strength Coach Mark Rippetoe explains this best

does a bigger motor slow the car down? No. but a bunch of junk in the trunk does.

Remember, getting stronger doesn’t mean getting fatter.

Without strength, the body cannot generate power. And when you can’t generate power, you are better off sticking to your Zumba and trampoline class. Because, at least it’s keeping you moving. But that’s all you are going to be doing. MOVING. You wont be training which means you won’t be progressing. And the reason why we train is to see progress. To be better than we were yesterday.

The moral of the story is this – DON’T ignore the strength component in your workout plan!

So lift heavy, eat clean and do a high intensity workout at least once a week. That is the true recipe for awesomesauce. We hope to see you soon at the PIT.