Weightlifting Should Still Include… Lifting Weight
Resistance training is an integral component to any comprehensive fitness program. The benefits are numerous: increased muscular strength, power and/or endurance, muscle hypertrophy, maintenance of lean mass, metabolic improvements, optimized body composition, enhanced bone mineral density, improved athletic performance, flexibility and/or functional movement economy, improved insulin sensitivity, and an overall better quality of life (to name a few). With any resistance training program, the lifts selected can create desirable physiological/psychological improvements – if the activities match the goal(s). Contemporary programs employed by some fitness companies have seemingly changed the traditional focus of resistance training to “try this exercise”. The intent often falls under the concept of “function’ with the loosest of definitions. Evidently getting the attention of consumers in the marketplace has replaced regard for a specific goal. The idea of functional training is to improve human performance in free living conditions, not to create the most unique movement combinations. An ostentatious exercise creation is better for gaining attention than it is at improving a health or performance related component of fitness. In essence, marketed personal/group training methodology, in some cases, has become a little goofy. Every company seems to want the individuals seeking personal training services to view their product as “extraordinary”. It becomes worse when trends integrate complex balance activities with functional training performed in high-intensity circuits. The problem with these trends (or at least excessive focus on them) is that it may leave little time for the average personal training client to engage in fundamental movements that greatly improve kinetic chain force coupling and function for beneficial transfer to almost any physical endeavor. “Look at me exercises” that place significant challenges related to balance with or without any loading do not serve the same purpose. A front squat to press with a traditional bar or dumbbells for instance, has a very different outcome compared to single arm kettlebell press while performing a TKE with balance using a dyna-disc. Personal trainers need to ensure they are training with a purpose other than creating a circus act.
Excessive use of functional movements using light loads with minimal focus on baseline strength actions will not allow the participant to make the same gains in muscular-balance, strength and related adaptations such as improved bone mineral density. Certainly functional exercises have application when the activity reflects a beneficial and transferable component, but over-focusing on stability and becoming excessively multiplaner reduces the benefits that could be attained, including caloric expenditure. Trainers must comply with client-specific capabilities using effective strategies and competent means to get results. Simply stated, prudent fitness professionals should look at the big picture when seeking to develop their client’s muscular fitness; not hone in on a narrow-minded, gimmicky aspect of “novel” resistance training activities. While everything evolves, let us not forget why traditional approaches started that way. Getting strong still requires lifting weight.