You know this guy. The one at the gym that is ripped up, shredded, and intimidating.
You ask him to help you move that weekend thinking you just found yourself the ultimate powerhouse. He arrives, a bit late but still he is there. Wearing a tight fitted sleeveless t-shirt with biceps as big as your head, things are looking good. That piano doesn’t seem nearly as daunting a task now. Not long into the move, however, you notice your little brother, that scrawny little teenager want a be man, grunting and groaning trying to get that box into the moving van, attempting to appear as if fully in control and unaffected by the overwhelming size and weight of his task. His goal is to get this over with so he can get to the pizza you promised and then home to watch video games for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, across the lawn stands THAT GUY, looking good but doing next to nothing. You ask yourself, “What is up with him? Is he afraid those muscles will break? Come on dude, get with it. Can’t you see my little brother over there about to pass out from the strain on his little body? You’re the biggest guy here. Let’s do this!”
I’ve known that guy.
So what is up with that? Is this a case of vanity over function?
I admit, those bulging biceps and chiseled abs do look good; to me and most everyone else. Inarguably, the aesthetic value of a muscular physique is attractive. And for the possessor, those muscles are like a trophy case, declaring profound achievement. And, yes, I too want them. In fact, 6 days a week I bust my bum in the pursuit of those trophies. Proudly, I have a few in my case to show off. But is that all it is about, vanity? What happened to function? How do you build those glamorous, aesthetically pleasing muscles and at the same time increase practical strength and ability?
It is in the training.
There is far more to fitness training than weight lifting. When I say that, I imagine your mind rushes straight to cardio. You might also consider martial arts as well. Both are elements of fitness training but they are not the exclusive elements to the pursuit of practical strength. There are other elements that are powerfully effective in transforming your weightlifting routines into practical strength building regimens.
Today, I have 5 elements that I present to you which I am confident that will help ensure that you develop applicable power and strength in your training journey.
Get Your Attitude Right
Focus, intention and determination matched with purpose, passion and intensity will bring the rewards you seek. Stated another way, “Knock it out of the park” every time you workout. No half way, so- so, kind of, sort of attitudes. 100%. Go Big or Go Home attitudes only please! Set your sights on the prize; a fit, strong, powerful and functional YOU. Get rid of any doubt, fear, shame, guilt, whatever holds you back. BRING IT! Plain and simple.
Core, Core, and more Core
Your core is your powerhouse. Yea, I know, some would argue that the glutes are the real horsepower in fitness. Think about it. If you are a runner, yes those glutes, hamstrings and quads are your horsepower. We aren’t talking about running a marathon though. We are talking about powerful, practical strength that allows you to be the best moving assistant a guy could ask for. And that hands down, irrefutably comes from a strong core. So work it. Pound it out. Whether it is an abs routine or any other workout, focus on that core. Focus, focus and focus some more.
Build a Skill
Add an interest to your workout routine. Kenpo, my favorite martial arts workout regimen, is a great example. Not only does it provide a powerful workout but it hones a valuable skill in the process. Just find something that has practical as well as fitness value and incorporate it into your plan. You’ll be rewarded with a fit body and a new skill.
Use Your Body
Put down the weights for a change. Use your bodyweight instead. Plyometrics is a great way to incorporate powerfully effective bodyweight movements into your fitness plan. Squat thrusts, jump thrusts, star jumps, step ups and tuck jumps will build natural, applicable power and get your metabolism burning like a 5 alarm fire.
Develop workouts that can be accomplished anytime, anywhere with any available tools. Whether hotel rooms, parking lots, on the trail, in the living room, in grandma’s back bedroom before that big holiday meal, wherever, be prepared with a plan that will allow you to continue the journey.
The bottom line is simple. Weightlifting is a wonderful sport. It is a passion of mine and one I doubt I’ll ever surrender. Yet, I want practical strength as well as that vanity physique. I don’t want to be THAT GUY; the one that looks like a fitness model but can’t rise to the demands of life. How about you? Am I right that you seek the same? Alright then, incorporate these simple elements into your fitness journey, watch your muscles grow and your practical strength increase at the same time.