You walk into a gym, you have all the ambition in the world, and you feel like this is your time. You have the latest and greatest gear needed and as you enter the front door you hear the trainer tell you, “I’m going to help you get strong.” In your mind, you have a picture of lean muscle helping you conquer that local marathon and in the trainers mind a picture of a powerlifter moving impressive amounts of weight… Which brings up the question, what is strength?
Strength is such a relative term. It can be demonstrated in many different ways and developed in a variety of methods. There is no good or bad way to be strong, but there is an optimal way to achieve strength that will ensure success. When someone begins their pursuit of strength, the importance of proper programming and complete honesty is second to none. You can’t train like a bodybuilder and hope to have world class endurance on the bike, and you can’t train like a professional athlete if you’re entering the gym for the first time.
Before you begin, have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Talk to a trainer or coach who can guide you and teach you. Together you will develop a plan that will let you achieve your optimal strength! There are three keys to consider that will help you establish a mentality ready to not just begin your pursuit of strength, but continue until the end…
–The Goal: number one on your list for preparation. This goal is your north star: the road taking you to what you dream of becoming. The hard part of selecting a goal is essentially that you have a choice. With so many ways of being strong, you have a variety of options to choose from between completing a family hiking trip to competing in elite sport events. Choose a goal that suits your talents and abilities, one that interests you, one that you are passionate about: one that you can succeed at and enjoy in the process. With an honest goal, you can begin to come up with a plan that will help you advance towards something. Progress requires direction, and the goal points you in that direction.
–Specificity: when you choose your path, follow the specific ways to advance. Much like a road map, you can’t travel westward and expect to find yourself on the eastern coast line. Training like someone who is after a different goal than yourself will only take you away from what you are after. Training has no universal approach and your body will adapt to the way you train it, so if you want to run a faster mile, train like a runner, or if you want to lift heavier weights, train like a weightlifter. Talk with your trainer consistently about your program to make sure it is taking you closer to your goal. Remember to be realistic with yourself and your trainer. Being honest about where you are and where you want to be will impact your ability to succeed in the future. Everyone starts somewhere; we are all beginners at something. Starting a journey requires a beginning, the point where you will take the first step.
–Consistency: another key to success. You can do all the right things and have all the right tools and motivation, but if you only work towards it every so often, or when time permits, or when you remember to do so, you can’t advance sufficiently to change your body. The body needs consistent work over a long enough time to adapt and transform. Remember as well, if you train one way for only a short amount of time and then switch your routine again and again, the progress you achieve will be hindered by not giving your body enough time to adapt to the movements and performance; in essence, you’re taking steps in many different directions. Dedicate yourself to a particular method that takes you towards your goals, and see it through to the end.
Strength comes in many forms. The pursuit of strength is a journey that requires long periods of dedication and the way you choose to approach that journey will greatly affect your success. Be honest with yourself and work specifically to your goals; consult a professional who can help you take the best route possible. Completing your pursuit of strength is one of the most important achievements of your life as it will benefit not only your physical health, but also your successes in every other aspect of your life.
Every Day… A Little Stronger