Strength Training For Normal Humans

Learn more about why and how to factor training into a life that does not already contain it.

I worked in the field of IT. My job was scheduled around the needs of the business, and as such can result in a eight o’clock start one day, followed by a one o’clock start the next, both being eight hour shifts. This is not unusual for my age group or my field. The environment is sterile and brightly lit. Some among you are likely to already be recoiling at the very obvious circadian disruption that goes in hand with that, but this environment is not unusual. The world over there are now generations of desk mammals, whose life revolves around coffee and computers – occasionally punctuated with convenient meals. Moreover, there are children and young adults pinning their hopes at fame and fortune – millions of fans and millions of dollars – on being the best gamers on the planet. These people used to be called nerds. These people are now becoming the lions share of the population of the developed world.

Hunched over computers and consoles, slaves to the dream that hours of work translates to more money in the bank. The absolute minimum amount of jobs for many of these people is one. I see colleagues leaving one job to go to the next, the end point being either paying off the crippling amount of financial debt created from a college education or to aid them in acquiring wealth that will become substantial enough for comfort in later life. Let’s examine what that later life will look like.

At retirement age, it is most likely that the money they have saved will be put to good use paying a vast array of medical bills for a vast array of pharmaceutical interventions required to keep them alive let alone comfortable. To that point it is most likely that comfort will be judged on the size of their wealth, car, house, what have you, and will most certainly not be based around their physical comfort, because that will be eroded to the point of misery. I’m talking primarily about the western non communicable diseases that plague us, the cascade of illnesses that spring from a life of stress, disrupted sleep patterns, poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle.

Any and everything you do is training. It’s habit forming. How sit, how you stand, how you move all of that comes from somewhere. It comes from repetition. Imitation. Proprioception or (lack thereof). You’re training right now as you sit there. Are you sitting in a shithouse position? Probably. Are you conscious of it? Probably not. Second nature now. That’s how all training works.

So let’s say you’re sitting, broken at the neck which, in case you didn’t know turns off your lower back musculature (generally speaking), and your entire nervous system is downregulated. You might also be internally rotated at the shoulders. Neck and back position aside, that brings with it a whole cascade of issues. Recently in our local supermarket, the nice lady who was ringing up our groceries was complaining as she did so about a sore shoulder. “My doctor said I should take time off but I can’t afford it. I have been icing it though.” So I’m looking at her. “You’re internally rotated” I say.

“That’s why. Instead of doing things this way, put your shoulder in a healthy position and it will feel better.”

She does.

“Wow! That feels better!” Couple of weeks later I see her. Back to her old ways.

The problem we see around is is people suffering from Western disease. They’re also suffering from Western lifestyle. That said, we can hope to change this with a serious focus on strength training.

Is everyone familiar with Maslow, yes? He created the hierarchy of needs? I have found in the health and fitness realm, that often a graphically represented methodology for dealing with today’s ills is to show a triangle and call it a pyramid, with layers of things stacked on each other from most to least important. This is pretty dumb. All sides are mutually supportive, and to neglect one or prioritise another is simply folly. You can escape what you are ignoring for so long, but when it bites you, it usually does not let go. Pyramids have sides and it seems both science and pseudo science have a tendency to fall down one side and stare at it, convinced that THIS is the solution. For shame.

It seems that, when left to their own devices, fitness and heath organisations create hierarchical pyramids, reminiscent of Maslow’s though applied to some kind of fitness or nutrition methodology. One of the most annoying components for me about these pyramids is that they appear represented as triangles. Often the hierarchy suggests some things are more important than others. People love that shit. So, were I to create an annoying triangle, it could probably look like four triangles. Why? BECAUSE THAT MAKES AN ACTUAL PYRAMID.

STRESS | SLEEP | NUTRITION | TRAINING

That said, what happens when we make triangles of things? It’s my position that this results in either – intentionally or unintentionally – an order of priorities being created in the mind of the intended audience, thus creating a robbing peter to pay paul with monopoly money situation. Where people spend all of their time prioritising the annoying triangle base, while ignoring or at least placing little value in the top of the annoying triangle.

How To Train

Practice. You practice moving well. You practice performing the squat, deadlift, press and bench press well. Once you are moving well you add a little weight. You do this three times a week. Let’s say squat and press monday for 5 sets of 5. Deadlift and bench on wednesday for a workset of 5 and 5 sets of 5 bench. Repeat Monday on Friday with a little more speed, or a little more weight if you’re ready for it.

Practice. That’s all it is. It doesn’t have to be a soul crushing workout to be effective. You don’t have to be pouring with sweat and hating your life. You just have to be moving well and fast. That’s all. Next week switch bench and press round. Repeat. Add a little weight each time you’re in. Allow the vascular system and muscle complex to keep up with the adaptions occuring at a neural and muscular level. Do that for as long as you can. Three times a week. The results over time are staggering.