Today’s workout is a 1 rep max back squat.
Its an interesting thing to hear the chatter surrounding a day like this. The gym is almost divided in half in terms of liking it and disliking it. Whereas when 7 minutes of burpees or something with a long run comes up, its almost universally hated.
Strength is a funny thing. When you’re young, you want nothing more than to show off how strong you are.
When you take on the role of an athlete and play a sport, you look for ways to get stronger. Ironically, many athletes don’t really know why they need to be stronger, (usually their head coach just said “hey, you need to squat and bench more”) but they know its pretty important.
For athletics, its pretty straightforward – being successful at sports is predicated on your ability to be powerful, of which strength is a component.
Power is a representation of the amount of work done in a specific time. Do more work than someone else in the same amount of time as them, and you’re more powerful. By work, we mean exerting force (strength) for a certain distance. In football, when two lineman line up across from one another, the winner will be the more powerful one. Meaning he will either do more work in the same amount of time than the other guy OR he’ll do it faster. If you want to dive down this rabbit hole further, read our post here: Force, Work, and Power.
Once you leave the athletic lifestyle, or if you never were an athlete, strength isn’t really at the forefront of your mind.
Until you need to move a sofa.
Or your kids jump on your back unexpectedly.
Or you have to unload 50 bags of mulch and spread them out into your flower beds. Just make sure its pine bark or the FishHawk HOA will come after you!
Or you want to make just ONE trip from the car to your kitchen with 70 grocery bags. Don’t lie, we ALL do that – we’re CrossFitters after all, that trip is for time people!
Ok, so with those examples its pretty easy to see why you should care about a basic level of strength.
But what about the folks who are saying “I’m strong enough for that stuff already.” Or, my personal favorite: “I don’t feel like I get a good workout when all we do is squat.”
When you do a workout that is centered just around building strength, we are doing a workout whose positive effects will last long after you leave the gym.
But how, when you’re not lying flat on your back, dripping in a pool of sweat and completely out of breath?
Here are the main benefits:
- Fat Loss – helps you reduce body fat and burn calories more efficiently, which will result in healthy weight loss. The burning of fat after typical “cardio” sessions (think: mindless running) ends about 15 minutes after you stop. With strength training, the effect lasts for up to 48 hours!
- Increase in resting metabolism to minimize muscle loss – Muscle requires more energy to maintain than fat, so when you have a healthy amount of muscle on your body, it’ll burn more fat in order to maintain that muscle. Inactive people lose about 3-8% of their muscle mass per decade. Do the math, its scary!
- Resiliency – helps preserve and enhance your muscle mass and bone mass, regardless of your age. Don’t want to have help getting off the couch, or the toilet, or out of bed, or up and down the stairs? Don’t skip strength focused days!
- Decreased Injury Potential – strength training helps build and maintain healthy joints, tendons, and bones. Balance and coordination are also improved, so a fall not only becomes less dangerous, but also less likely to happen.
Here’s another note: you don’t need to PR by 50 pounds every time we test something. Even a 2 pound PR is awesome. Read more about PR’s, and missing them, here: How and Why So Many PR’s.
Finally, in the words of Greg Glassman (creator of CrossFit), “the needs of Olympic athletes and our grandparents differ by degree, not kind. One group is searching for functional dominance, the latter for functional competence.” This means that Olympians must strive to be as strong as they possibly can, pursuing things like a 600lb back squat. My grandma? She probably just needs to be comfortable moving her bodyweight, or slightly above, comfortably. Its all about context.
Above I made the remark that strength is a funny thing; that when you’re young you want nothing more than to show off your strength.
But what about when you’re 90? I bet you’ll wish you had worked to build, and maintain, enough strength to remain independent.
Got further questions?