You Need Strength

In Dryland, Injury Reduction, Periodization by AdminLeave a Comment

I'm going to hit you with some tough love today. You need strength. 

Now I'm not saying you need to be strong like 100 Spartans. I'm not saying you need to deadlift a house. However, you need to strive for strength. It will not only impact your performance but it will enable your life. 

Here's my next bit of tough love. Strength is not maximized in the pool.

Recently, I wrote a blog post for US Masters Swimming on why you can get faster with age.

The response was mind blowing. Swimmer after swimmer commented in on how they felt inspired to get back at it, push a little harder, and allow the achievement drive to flow freely. 

This is exactly what I wanted to happen. Now I want to follow up with each person who took the time to read and comment. How many of you implemented the tips in that blog? How many of you made a purposeful effort to get stronger since reading that blog?  

You need strength. It is that simple. 

Strength is the base for speed.

Dr. Peter Attia brought up an awesome point on The Tim Ferriss Show.

"There is no such thing as speed without strength."

Tired of slowing down during your masters career? Take a look at your training. Is strength a priority or an afterthought? 

Not improving as an age group athlete? Take a look at your ability. Can you properly handle forces acting on your body during the course of a day? 

Without the foundation of strength, you will not have the engine you need to produce speed. Mind to movement communication pathways diminish if we do not use them. 

In our youth, strength opportunity comes a little more naturally. As adults, we become really good at excuses and almost begin to fear being strong. 

From my experience, many of these fears can be reduced by focusing on more purposeful movement (and more movement in general). Also, you do not even need fancy. The basics work really well. 

Base Strength Exercises

Strength helps with injury prevention.

This is where you really need to pay attention. Injuries are not fun. 

Dr. Attia brings up another amazing point in the interview. As we age, strength becomes less of a focus. We lose intentionality with our well-being and this compromises bodily function. Not only does it compromise internally, it compromises our ability to move!

“So many of the injuries we get as we age are not just orthopedic but a result of our inability to be strong.”

With a lack of focus on strength, muscles lose capability. We lose our ability to balance and stabilize our joints. Also, lack of movement has the potential to result in a lack of mobility and lack of force output in the wrong places. Then when we move, our dispersion of force is off. Then that swimming stroke becomes painful. Then that swimming stroke becomes nonexistent because we are injured. 

Strength is your foundation. Without strength, you lose the ability to get up from the chair. Without strength, you slow down. Without strength, you competitive dreams stay, as that, a dream. 

Stop thinking of your ability to be strong as the injury causer and think of it as the injury preventer. Your life and performance will thank you. 

Strength gives you a little slice of control over life.

Absolute strength definitely shows signs of decrease as we age, so you might struggle to hit a new personal best on the back squat in your 60's. However, relative strength (strength to bodyweight ratio), is more controllable.

Utilize smart, relatively intense training throughout your life and you can keep relative strength meaningful. Sit around and think of strength as an afterthought and relative strength will plummet right along with your performance (and daily life). 

Hey swimmers.. good news. Relative strength is a lethal tool to have in your toolkit at any age. Keeping your relative strength high allows you to go after technique improvements, allows efficiency to be on your side, and opens the door to a lot longer progression in the sport. 

If you're not currently dialed in with your strength training, there's still time. Improving strength at any age is a valuable endeavor. I'm telling you that getting stronger will not be time poorly spent. 

Training Example

Let me give you an example of strength in action. I have to give a virtual high five to one of our remote 1:1 clients, Sarah. Honestly, when I'm having a rough day with my training, I find motivation from Sarah. Sarah has been battling a debilitating illness, managing chemo treatments, dealing with constant joint dislocations, and having to be ultra careful with energy expenditure. 

The average person wouldn't see this as an opportunity to dive headfirst into strength, but Sarah does. She realizes strength will make things, not only more manageable, but give her the tools to thrive and find enjoyment in life. 

In a few short weeks, Sarah is seeing strength impact her life. 

Check out this line from an email she sent me this week.

"I just tried to see if I could and I did a pushup! From the ground! Then I did three in a row! Yay!!!!!!"

Even in one of the toughest performance environments, Sarah is finding success. The body and the mind crave strength. 

If strength works in this scenario, imagine what it could do for you and your performance. 

Do you value strength?

Maybe you're seasoned in the gym. Maybe you have never even thought about strength training. A critical step is implementing a smart, challenging, adaptable plan that will make you more resilient in sport and in life. 

If you're looking for a community to join and progression to help you unlock your potential, I urge you to check out SURGE+. 

When you combine total body movement, increased strength, progression, and challenge, the results are sensational. Let's see what you are capable of. Surge towards your goals. Are you ready?

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