What is strong?
That’s a good question, and one I feel I don’t have a concise way of answering.
I mean, some questions are a cinch to answer:
Q: What would be your weapon of choice during the zombie apocalypse?
A: Easy. Samurai sword.
Q: If you could pick one career to have what would it be?
A: Professional Jason Bourne. Boom.1
Q: Who’s the best Care Bear?
A: Birthday Bear. Come on.
But to definitively answer the question…”what is strong?”
Well, that’s a bit more abstract.
For some, strong is looking a certain way, and for others it’s about how much weight you can lift on a certain exercise. And maybe, to some faction out there, strong is about how many tacos you can eat in one sitting.
While I certainly have my biased take given I’m a strength & conditioning coach, I think in the grand scope of it all…
…strong is a sentiment.
Copyright: alicephoto / 123RF Stock Photo
Recently, actress Rosamund Pike (of Gone Girl fame) shared a video on her Instagram feed from when she and I worked together while she was in Boston – in the before times – filming her latest movie.
The video shows her hitting a personal best 100 lb. deadlift for multiple reps (and making it look easy).
View this post on Instagram
For starters, I guess this is as appropriate a time as any to lean into it and announce the obvious:
I am now officially a celebrity trainer.
KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!!!!!!!!
(But seriously, kneel).
Secondly, I can’t take full credit for Rosamund’s technique and overall badassery in the video above.
She had plenty of experience beforehand working with other trainers, and to her credit was no rookie in the weight room.2
Nevertheless, I was elated that she took it upon herself to share that video with her fans and followers if for no other reason that it showcases to women that they CAN lift appreciable weight and that they won’t turn into Conan the Barbarian after one set.
I have long been a champion of encouraging women to strength train and to help them recognize the myriad of benefits it can provide:
- Improved strength – obviously – and to be better prepared for life’s curve balls.
- Improved performance.
- Improved body composition.
- Improved bone density.
- Improved confidence and body image.
- Improved mental health & stress relief
- Telling societal norms to f**k off.
Unfortunately, much of the mainstream media muddies this message.
Instead we’re inundated with images of women lifting dainty weights.
Take for example this image, which, I kid you not, was one of the top suggestions while doing a search for “strong” within the stock photo service I subscribe to:
Copyright: treewat0071 / 123RF Stock Photo
Many women (not all of course) are programmed, if not indoctrinated, into thinking that that is strength training and that anything involving a barbell (or a modicum of effort) is, well, let’s be honest…
And it’s bullshit.
Granted, at the end of the day whether or not an individual does this exercise or that, and more to the point: if they’re performing it with appreciable weight, depends on their injury history, ability level, and more importantly, their goals(s)
However, speaking for myself, the last thing directing my thought process or programming is whether or not someone has Y chromosome.
Which is why I dig (profusely) the message Rosamund conveyed in her video above:
“Marla Grayson (NOTE: that’s the character she plays in her upcoming movie) is a lioness. And lionesses need to be strong. Tony celebrates the strength of everyone he trains, and pushed me to find more than I knew I had. Thanks Tony.”
Again, strong is a sentiment with many iterations and roots of inspiration.
It’s not necessarily about a number.
But it certainly doesn’t hurt…;o)