In my years as a practitioner, I have heard a lot of misconceptions on strength training, how strength training works, what strength training does and why it is bad or good.
I think the biggest misconception is, that strength training is often associated with training muscles and growing bigger muscles or gaining muscle mass.
Whilst that is one aspect of strength training, it’s just a very small part.
This video and article covers
- how strength training works
- where strength training originated from
- and what are the important things we need to consider when we do strength training
Back to the Roots of How Strength Training Works
For us to know how strength training works, we need to go back in history to understand where it originated from. About 2500 years ago, an incredible wrestler, Milos of Crotona, an ancient Olympian won six Olympics titles. He won one as a junior and then, the next year, he started winning the men’s title and reproduced it for the next four years. He won a total of five Olympic titles. Milos was well known for his incredible amount of power and strength, but how did he do it?
According to him, ever since he was a boy, he wanted to be the strongest man on earth. He came up with a very simple strategy and said to himself that every day he is going to be lifting a small calf; that was his training. The calf grew over time into a full blown bull and because he lifted it every day, he was still able to do it consecutively even with the added load/weight. At some point, he was able to lift a full bull, this is the idea behind how strength training works.
How Strength Training Works in Practice
Generally speaking in strength training, we start with a load that is not too challenging and overtime increase the loads until we get series of weights that can make us stronger. In Milos’ case, he started with the low load; the small calf which he lifted every day, he lifted a little bit more load until he lifted a full bull. It is important to understand that we must not do it every day. The fundamental principle of strength training is that we need to progressively increase the loads.
We shall be dealing with the techniques subsequently, once we have mastered the techniques, we can look at increasing loads. Since Milos showed us a perfect example of how strength training works, let’s follow his techniques. We treated the different modes of resistance training, it is important we remember that they do not only include free weights or machines or anything. There are different modes and tools we can use. For example, we can use dumbbells as an external resistance, kettle bells, barbells, medicine balls or a water bags. There are also resistance bands which can be attached to a bar and can also be used for support.
Important Considerations on Strength Training
As earlier noted on how strength training works, the ability to overcome resistance is important in strength training. For example, a lot of athletes cannot do their body weight. In that case, they can support the body weight so that they don’t have to lift their whole body weight; they will just lift a portion of their body weight instead. For instance, a good way to do this is to wrap it around pull-up bar and let the athlete come in and then, the body weight is supported in pulling up. Another alternative is to wrap it around the bar and attach it to the ground so that once the bar goes up the resistance band stretches. It is called accommodating resistance, the resistance cord stretches and the load gets heavier and increases over time.
Please check out the video and article on How Strength Training works – Accommodating Resistance
Concluding How Strength Training Works
As Milo demonstrated over 2500 years ago the essence of strength training, small incremental progressions done consistently over time that can yield big results.
Strength can be trained with different training modes, including body weight, free weights, strength-training machine, medicine balls or resistance bands (and much more).