While we cover all facets of training at Relentless; Strength, Speed, Agility, Body Composition, Flexibility, Endurance, and so on, it’s clear that we emphasize strength as one of our primary areas of focus. It is in our name, after all, but there’s a lot more thought behind it than that. In my experience, training for strength gives us the biggest bang for our buck when it comes to gaining muscle, losing fat, or maximizing performance.
Think of training like a pyramid. At the top you have very specific tasks and exercises. These pyramid-topping movements and skills are very important, even crucial at times, for your sport or progress. Think of skills like a basketball shot, specific martial arts technique, or a particularly needed rehab exercise. These skills and exercises are very important and you should practice certainly them, but they don’t really translate into anything else.
As you move down through the pyramid towards the base you start to find broader qualities such as speed, flexibility, conditioning, and strength. These qualities prop up the more fine qualities mentioned above that you’re looking for. The more accomplished you are in these foundational qualities the wider the pyramid at the bottom. We all know that a wide pyramid can support a bigger and taller top (high-function skills) versus a narrow-based pyramid, right? For the vast majority of athletes, particularly any that are in the beginning and intermediate stages, that means that the priority is to widen that base as much as possible. For reference, if you’re not a pro, about-to-graduate Division I athlete, or have under seven or eight SOLID years in the iron game, then chances are very good that you fall into the beginner to intermediate stage.
As I said above, our biggest bang for the buck base-widening quality is strength. Here’s why:
1. Training for strength will help build muscle mass in those that need it and also maintain muscle mass in those who are trying to lose fat. If you don’t give your body a reason to build muscle then it won’t, and if you don’t give it a reason to keep muscle when you’re dieting then it will shed it. Fast. More muscle means better athletic performance and a sexier physique. Losing muscle will slow your metabolism, making fat loss even harder, and even if you do lose the weight you’ll end up as a skinnier, floppier version of your previous self. Trust me, skinny and floppy is no way to go through life.
2. Strength improves the other qualities more than anything else. If you want better endurance, strength will help you as each step or rep will more sub-maximal and thus less taxing. If you want better mobility then strength helps because the body doesn’t like to put you in positions it views as dangerous as a result of weakness. If you’re trying to get in shape or learn certain techniques then strength helps because you can maintain better positions, try more advanced techniques, and move with more confidence.
3. Strength improves in a very fast, quantifiable manner but also takes the longest to master. Early on in a training career it’s important, psychologically, to see some wins. Sound strength training provides that demonstration of improvement as new trainees can quickly add weight to the bar and see success. However, strength development is a lifelong pursuit and to reach your true strength mastery is the true long game. So it’s important to not spend the early part of an athlete’s training career mucking about with little crap that doesn’t do anything. Early on, get strong.
To make a major change in your body or your performance takes focus, direction, and consistency. Becoming stronger is the backbone of any good training program and it will make everything else easier. For more info on the Relentless Strength System, sign up on the right to watch a video detailing our Success Pyramid!