Reasons To Get Strong #3: not hurting yourself when moving things around.


If you are reading this I assume you want to be fit and healthy.  However I know the majority of people reading this are not "Lifters".  The preconception is that weight lifting is an aggressive hyper masculine thing done by younger guys to build muscle and show off.  Maybe you think it's not for your health and fitness goals.

Fitness and health are interesting words and it's sometimes hard to find a sensible definition. The definition of fitness and health certainly isn't six pack abs and defined muscles whereas it also certainly isn't being obese and completely sedentary or an emaciated long distance runner living off of lemon water and iceberg lettuce. Fitness requires a specific task or situation to be fit for. If you are talking about a javelin thrower and they can take three long steps and throw a light spear the furthest then they are the fittest javelin thrower even if it takes 20 minutes to recover from those three seconds of work and anything over a few kilos is too heavy to lift.  Fitness therefore requires a person to be ready and able to engage in any tasks likely to be required of them. In the same way remaining healthy requires more care than just a well chosen lifestyle as it doesn't matter how amazing your blood work is, how perfect your cholesterol levels are, how low your body fat percentage is or how impressive your diet is if you have a herniated lower back after trying to lift your groceries.

Whether or not you have any interest in the gym, strength and fitness or training in general you are going to be required now and again to move heavy things around. You might be required to unload a chest freezer, help a friend move house or even need to take part in a strength and conditioning program in order to lose weight or keep yourself metabolically healthy. As it is completely unavoidable while getting through life to have to interact with other objects you should really learn to move safely without risk yourself.  It's nice to be useful.

While there is obviously some inherent risk in moving heavy things around even in the gym environment it is safer in the long run than realising you have no idea how to stabilise your spine through a movement when life throws an unexpected situation at you. The advantage of the gym environment is that the objects you can practice lifting known predictable weights and generally stable regular shapes.  Another misconception about weight training that it is necessary or even recommended that you start off a training program using a challenging weight.  It is wiser to begin lifting small objects or even no object at all until you have perfected your own movement patterns and body position. No pain no gain is very old fashioned.

In fact poor movement patterns and tight muscles are probably the chief reason why lifting something could lead to an injury. A common example would be tight hamstrings causing a rounded lower back while lifting something from the ground. This rounded lower back position prevents the strong muscles down the back body stabilising the spine and instead loads weight of the object directly into the spinal column which can result in a pulled muscle or hernia. 

This of course leads to the biggest Catch-22 with strength training. The people who would benefit the most (i.e. people with sedentary jobs, usually sitting at desks) are the people most likely to have postural issues, tight muscles and achey bits and due to this are often the most unlikely and unwilling to get involved in sensible lifting practice. For this demographic even an unambitious and very simple training template involving lifting from the floor, carrying for distance and lifting overhead a few days a week with very little intensity would have great benefits for quality-of-life and injury prevention.

A solid understanding of lifting mechanics would decrease the possibility of injury day-to-day life, reduce the chances of postural and mobility issues and would create a toolkit that could be used if the person wished to change body composition through more focused training.  The fact that people often wait until they have issues with weight or body composition before gets involved lifting is probably to blame for the majority of injuries that do occur in a gym. Too much, too soon and too sloppy while chasing a smaller dress size, bigger arms or a beach ready body.

Rather than looking at the core lifts from kettlebell or barbell training as being ways of showing off or building muscles think of them as elements of practicing correct mechanics. A deadlift or a kettlebell swing is a hinge at the hips while lifting from the floor, a barbell or kettlebell press is a lift overhead with correct shoulder mechanics and a squat is deep knee bend while carrying a weight on the back or at the shoulders.

If you can correctly stabilise a weight at the hip, chest or overhead you will be properly equipped to deal with most situations involving moving a load that will be required of you.  A man able to single arm swing a 1/3 bodyweight kettlebell with ease will NEVER need to make two trips to being in the shopping.  A woman who can strictly press a twelve or sixteen kilo kettlebell won't put her back out taking something heavy down from a high shelf.

Thanks to the generally unstable and unsymmetrical nature of life my personal preference is always to practice lifting with the kettlebell.  They require you to coordinate between the left and right sides of your body and the unique shape of the kettlebell force you to work much harder to keep it stable compared to a similar weight barbell or dumbbell. 

For guides on basic kettlebell lifts with correct form and drills to improve them if they prove difficult subscribe for upcoming how-to videos, watch my Hardstyle 101 videos or or make an appointment through my booking link to be shown in person.

Thank you for reading please share and I hope to see you in the gym soon.


Richard BathComment