We all know how important it is to be strong. (See: Popeye.) Strength is applicable to any function at every level of human development—and, of course, in any athletic endeavor. But strength isn’t just important for those of us who do play sports: Whether you are a mom, a pilot, a construction worker or a banker (or all of the above!), strength will go a long way in your every day, and serve you for almost any purpose.
Now, the million dollar question: How does one get “strong”? Lifts, that’s how. Focus on big, compound lifts that will help you build muscle mass, which in layman’s terms means doing the following: squats, deadlifts (lifting weights from the ground to your waist), overhead presses (lifting weights over your head), chin-ups, lunges, and horizontal pushing and pulling movements (like rowing). When doing these moves, strive to lift as much weight as you can manage (safely, of course) for six to eight repetitions. Those of you just starting out may want to start with less weight and more repetitions (either eight to ten or ten to twelve), with a goal of working towards that higher weight and six to eight rep range.
Achieving (and maintaining) this solid base of strength training is referred to as general physical preparedness (GPP), which means you’ve made it! You are officially strong. Kidding (kind of), but once you do reach GPP, you can then transition into functional exercise, meaning you can start focusing on the muscles you specifically use in your day to day. Like to hike? Focus on the legs. Rock climb (or have a heavy toddler to tote around)? Work those arms. Bottom line is that you now have a strong core to be proud of—and build upon.
Be smart. Be functional. And happy and safe lifting to you!
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