Strength Makes Your Life Better, Easier, and Safer
Andrew Lewis, 11-14-2019

Andrew Lewis—owner of Black Metal Strength Training—poses in his fitness studio.
Andrew Lewis
Andrew Lewis has been coaching strength training since 2011, and he is out guest contributor for this issue. He owns Blackmetal Strength Training—a private facility in Cuyahoga Falls where trainees get stronger, lose fat, and live better . He also has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu. He can be reached at BlackmetalStrengthTraining.com.

Strength refers to the ability of a person to exert force over an external resistance. The ability to produce force is the fundamental way humans interact with their environment. When you get out of bed, you do so by exerting force against the floor. This allows you to balance, shift your weight, raise your body, and walk. This happens throughout the day without you thinking about it much, although you do think about it when you have to lift or move something heavy because it may be near the maximum amount of force you can exert. The object wouldn’t feel heavy (or would at least feel less heavy) if the maximum force you could exert was higher. The process of strengthening this ability to produce force is called “strength training.”

Strength training is appropriate for many different types of people—it's not just for twenty-year-old men or bodybuilders. Here are a few specific examples of populations that benefit from strength training.

People Who Want to Get Injured Less Often

Many injuries in daily life are musculoskeletal. They happen because people fall or trip or try to pick up a couch while helping their friend move. They happen when you’re chasing your kids and turn too sharply, etc. More precisely, though, they happen because the force applied to the bones, muscles, or connective tissues was too high relative to their strength. Thin bones and small muscles are easier to break than larger ones, and strength training is highly effective at making bones thicker and muscles larger. It is also my experience that trainees who have back and knee pain see a reduction in that joint pain in less than a month into the process of getting stronger. Of course, not everyone that begins strength training will become a massive bodybuilder—a very small portion of the population who work hard for a long, long time get those kinds of results.

Those Who Want More Energy and a More Useful Body

It is well documented that regular exercise has a positive effect on sleep, mood, and energy throughout the day. Strength training not only improves hormone levels and sleep quality, but it also makes strenuous activities less strenuous. Imagine lifting a 30lb object (like a child) multiple times in one day. That might be difficult if you can only lift a maximum of 40lbs. If you could lift 80lbs, the 30lb object would feel lighter. As a result, you can lift it many more times.

On the other hand, if you can only lift 40lbs, there’s no way you can lift a 50lb object. You would have to use a mechanical device or enlist the help of another person. However, you can certainly lift a 50lb object if you can lift 80lbs. Therefore, a wide variety of tasks and activities are opened up to you that were unavailable when you could only lift 40lbs. A practical example of this is housework. If you can’t move the couch to vacuum under it, you may decide to skip vacuuming under there. If you can just barely move it, it’s still an annoyance to do so, and worst case scenario, you might get hurt moving it.

Anyone Who Wants to Look and Feel Healthy

Fat loss cannot effectively be accomplished in the weight room or gym, despite what many trainers and fitness magazines promise—it is done in the kitchen by reducing the number of calories you eat. What strength training does do for the body is make it more muscular and firm. Saggy arms and legs can be firmed up by having larger muscles displace fat, and, as a result, basic tasks that used to be difficult will be effortless to complete. Your back won’t hurt after mowing the lawn or gardening and you’ll be able to chase your kids around with a reduced risk of injury and increased stamina. Key health metrics like blood pressure, blood glucose levels, waist measurement, and body fat percentage have been shown to improve with strength training. An overwhelming amount of medical research indicates strength improves not only length of life, but also quality of life.

The Safe and Effective Way to Get Strong

Strength training is best done in the form of barbell training—moving a rod of steel up and down that you must keep level and balanced. The best exercises to get strong are the back squat, overhead press, deadlift, and bench press. All of these exercises use a lot of muscles, which allows you to get the most bang for your buck in terms of time and effort. This might sound dangerous, but my coaching experience and scientific studies support its relative safety. These exercises must be done with correct form to maximize their effectiveness and reduce the likelihood of injury, and learning them can be difficult, but free resources online and professional services are becoming increasingly available. I highly recommend, at the minimum, anyone interested watch the Art of Manliness videos on the squat, press, deadlift, and bench press.

It is worth your time and effort to get stronger—the ability to produce force is the fundamental way humans interact with their environment. Being stronger will make you feel healthier, live safer, and generally be more useful.


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