Why It’s Not Always JUST About Strength

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“One more!  Get it! Yeah!  All you, all you, all you. Just the pinkies.  JUST…….THE……PINKIES!!!”

We’ve all been there.  Rolling our eyes at the two meatheads who are screaming at one another and drawing attention to themselves as they eek out one more rep on the bench press, or squeeze out another rep in the squat rack, or, I don’t know, engage in an epic thumb war battle.  Who knows?

The point is, we’ve all seen it happen. Or, more to the point, have been there ourselves (don’t worry, I won’t judge).

While 95% of the time the guttural screams we hear at the gym are nothing more than some lame song and dance to garner attention or some alpha-male power play akin to a peacock spreading its feathers, sometimes, on rare occasions, it just comes down to someone working their tail off.

And that should be commended.  To an extent.

Let me expound a bit.

You see, deep down inside I’m a meathead at heart.  I’ve been lifting weights since I was 13, and can remember vividly the Christmas morning when I got my first weight training set from my parents (I mean Santa).  It was one of the best mornings of my life, and I can remember like it was yesterday how I instantly plopped down on the bench to bang out a few reps of bench presses.  All in the comfort of my He-Man pjs. It was awesome.

The next 10-15 years were filled with your prerequisite training career.  I can recall doing my fair share of bicep curls in front of the mirror just outside my bedroom door while my stereo cranked out the likes of Wu-Tang Clan and Stone Temple Pilots.

I can only imagine what was going through mama Gentilcore’s head as I was upstairs cranking out curls and push-ups as Wu-Tang Clan’s Ain’t Nuthin to F*** Wit was shaking the windows.

Ma!  The meatloaf!

It was business as usual all through high-school and college.  As my baseball career developed I spent more and more time in the weight room as a means to an end.  My goal was to play professional baseball (and to make out with Mariah Carey. It was the mid-90s, sue me!) and I’d spend much of my free time working out and doing what I needed to do to make myself better.

I won’t sugar-coat anything: While I had a few professional looks and tryouts, it didn’t pan out.

After I was done playing, my goals then turned to what else: getting jacked. While I was able to make some progress in the gym – it wasn’t until I started my first job in corporate fitness and started reading sites like T-Nation that I started to place a premium on STRENGTH!

It’s hard to believe, but I didn’t perform my first deadlift until 2003, when I was 25.

A funny (and looking back, a not so coincidental) thing happened once I started training for strength. I got results!  I went from 180 to 21o lbs in less than a year, and while all of that was cool……..I was no where near closer to making out with Mariah Carey.

For the record:  I’m still referring to mid-late 90s Mariah, not the hooched out diva, uppity bitch of today.  And yes, I realize that at this point in the story I’m past the 90s, and unless I have a flux capacitator in my back pocket the chronological order doesn’t jive. Whatever Einstein.  It’s my story, just roll with it.

Getting back on task – I’m a strength guy.  I wouldn’t call myself a strength coach if I wasn’t.  I feel strength and getting stronger should be the backbone of anyone’s program.  You can’t have things like power, agility, endurance, charm, and unwittingly good looks without first having a solid foundation of strength.

Likewise, there aren’t many guys (or girls) out there who have built impressive or admirable physiques who aren’t strong.

One of the best analogies I’ve ever come across about why strength is important is to think of it as a glass.

What kind of glass are we talking about here?  A standard 8 oz glass?  A wine glass?  An Optimus Prime collectors mug I got in a Happy Meal circa 1985?  This post is just chock full of nostalgia today!

Well, any glass really. The idea, though, is to make the glass bigger!

This is an analogy I first heard from Eric Cressey, and again later on from Master RKC instructor, Brett Jones.

Think of strength as a glass, and the water inside the glass as all the “qualities” we train for:  endurance, strength-endurance, power, agility, speed strength, strength speed, having the ability to somehow take F.O.R.E.V.E.R in the bathroom getting ready (ladies?), you know, those types of things.

The smaller your glass, the less “qualities” you’re able to express, let alone at a high level.  That said…..

Strength is the basis for everything. 

You can’t be “fast” without having some semblance of strength (or horsepower) in reserve.  You can’t improve your timed mile, or taking a bit further, your marathon time if you can’t generate more force into the ground to propel yourself forward.

The larger you make your glass, the more liquid you’re able to place inside said glass, and the likelihood your performance improves.  Whatever your endeavors may be.

That said, and going back to the example of the two meatheads above, as much as I LOVE strength and getting people stronger, and as much as I respect people who work hard and get “after it,” it does come at a price.

In other words:  you can’t ALWAYS grind out reps and beat your joints to a pulp, and a well-rounded program isn’t SOLEY about lifting as much weight as possible until your knees or shoulder or spine feels like tossing you the middle finger.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before………

Eric Cressey released a book this week!

You’ve no doubt been inundated with countless posts, tweets, and Facebook statuses from other fitness professionals about The High Performance Handbook this week.  And getting the obvious out of the way, this was a post “disguised,” in large part, to support Eric’s new book, to sell a few copies, and yes, to help fund my insatiable ice-cream habit…..;o)

Speaking truthfully, however, the main impetus was to help get a quality product into the hands of people who need it.

There are a boatload of people out there haphazardly going to the gym each and every day not making progress, and more often than not, causing more harm than good.

Sure many are lifting weights, but many are lifting weights poorly.  On top of that many don’t understand that a well-rounded program entails much more than just hoisting weights off the ground, and that if more people learned to tweak a program to fit their body-type, needs, and capabilities on top of addressing movement quality, that they would see profound differences in not only how they feel but how they look too.

And that’s the crux of The High Performance Handbook and what separates it from the masses.

Make no mistake:  you’re going to lift heavy things and hate life at certain points.

But it’s not just about lifting weights.

It’s also about moving well, and also understanding how to lift weights correctly.

I think most people reading this site knows my affiliation with Eric, and by extension Cressey Performance. This resource is about as close as you’re going to get to training at CP without actually being at CP, and it goes without saying that I feel the “system” works.

To that end, you only have until TONIGHT (SATURDAY, October 26th) at MIDNIGHT to take advantage of the introductory sale price.  After that the price goes up significantly.*

UPDATE:  it’s been brought to my attention that Eric’s extended the offer to come train at Cressey Performance. Anyone who purchases the book before the deadline, will be entered to win an all expenses paid trip to come train at Cressey Performance. We can totally like, hang out and stuff!

—-> The High Performance Handbook <—-

* = and a baby seal cries.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

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