This guest post is really exciting for me. Gubernatrix is one of my heroes and she actually asked if she could write something for us. Replying to her email was one of the first pieces of real fan-mail I’ve ever sent. Get ready to be inspired by a brilliant, strong, witty person whom I adore madly.
I’m a strength training obsessive and I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people say “I wish I was strong enough to do that” or “I would love to do that but I haven’t got any strength”.
The other complaint I often hear is “I’d like to get stronger but I find lifting weights boring”, or “I don’t like the gym”.
Well I am here to tell you that you are already stronger than you think you are, and that you can develop even more beautiful and useful strength without getting bored or frustrated.
This isn’t the preamble to revealing an amazing new piece of equipment or new training method. I’m simply going to talk about you and your attitude to your body and the movement it makes
My interest in strength grew alongside and fed off an interest in dance – specifically breakdancing (or ‘breaking’ if we’re going to be accurate). I’m really not that good a dancer but I loved it and I loved the way it made me feel.
The athletic demands of breaking made me strong and flexible. It built an incredibly strong core and strong upper body – the first time I ever tried a pull up I was able to do one because of the years of breaking. Becoming strong through breaking encouraged me to explore my strength further.
Both dancing and strength training involve manipulating your body in space and through space. Both require great awareness of your body and control over it, power, explosiveness, grace.
Like dancing, strength training puts you deeply in touch with your body, its physicality and its abilities. You learn a lot about yourself when you are trying to lift something heavier than you have ever lifted before, or when you are trying to master a movement that will explode a heavy weight from the floor to over your head in a second.
You can also be creative in strength training, just as you are in dance or any other activity for that matter. It is the difference between training movements and training muscle groups.
Train movements over muscles
All human movement is controlled by the same muscles. Dancing and strength training develop the same muscles. Shopping and mowing the lawn develop them too!
I’m not talking about “development” in the bodybuilding sense which is concerned with size, but rounded strength development and the mind-muscle connection which in its ultimate incarnation will allow a very heavy weight to be moved super fast.
You know those odd stories that crop up in the news every now and again: ‘Woman lifts car to free trapped child’? Type that into Google and you will see hundreds of them. People (you!) have super human strength and they don’t realise it because they don’t know how to access it. (If you want to know more about why these strange feats happen, read this article).
We use the same skeleton and muscles for everything we do. Strength training is therefore of the utmost importance in helping us to live better and be better – physically and mentally.
If the movements that you did in the gym reflected the movements that you did in life, you would probably find that you were much more competent at them than you thought. Ever pick something heavy off the floor? Ever carry a heavy weight in front of you and then squat it down? Ever throw it, hit it, drag it?
Those comments I referred to at the start are not wrong: working individual muscles is boring. Training with no discernible results is boring. Training moves that don’t do anything useful won’t make you feel strong and empowered.
But strength training doesn’t have to be like that. It’s quite simple – pick up heavy things (including your own bodyweight) in a variety of ways on a regular basis.
Choose movements you like doing, draw inspiration from whatever you fancy, whether it is dance, music, fighting or playing. You will be stronger, healthier, happier and have a whole lot more fun!
Gubernatrix brings her readers advice, news and opinion from the cutting edge of functional strength and conditioning. She likes free weights, kettlebells, rings, bodyweight, odd objects, conditioning, eating right and spending time in the great outdoors.