In a lot of ways, fitness can help you find the very best systems suited to your goals and needs for whatever you choose to do whether it's to build size, gain strength, muscle, lose weight, burn fat or whatever the case may be. However; there are things in the fitness world that make people very confused about what can work for them because you have some quack trainer telling them to do this or that and maybe some giant bodybuilder with 24 inch arms telling someone how to lift a bunny weight for that "Contraction" to pump the muscle. It's tough figuring out because although we have "evolved" as an industry it's also becoming frustrating and mind numbing and too many people make things complicated when in fact it's simpler than most want you to believe.
Let's face it, with all the chrome and fern gyms and all the "glitz and glamour" of training, the fact is when you lift heavy things you get stronger period. The problem is most don't understand how to work up to lifting heavy things; they either can't do it or they can and if they can't most quit and think they're too weak. When I say lifting heavy things I don't always mean barbells and dumbbells; there are other things to lift like logs, heavy cables, odd objects, hammers, your bodyweight, and farmer's walk with various objects like kettlebells, lifting heavy clubs and many other things. When you lift a heavy object it takes a lot of effort and engages more muscles than you would think. It's not the same as if you tried to curl a 50 lb. hammer as oppose to a 50 pound dumbbell because the balance is different, the grip isn't the same and one has you engaging more muscles so which one makes you stronger? Most aren't taught how to use proper progressive training because it differs for other people, you can't teach the same progression system but you can however teach how to adapt to that lift and show them how to get stronger using what works for them. Sorry if I'am confusing you but what I'm pointing out is if you want to get strong, you simply lift something heavy it doesn't matter if it's a squat or a bench press, deadlift, pull-up, pushup, handstand or lifting an anvil; when the muscles are engaged using a resistance that hits the major groups of those muscles engaged and then some with the understanding of how that lift is made you are building strength.
Let's talk about balancing for a moment and not talking about that stupid thing with the squat on the stability ball or those idiotic tricep kickbacks while on one leg on the Bosu Ball; I'm talking balancing while engaging the stabilizing muscles and using various muscle groups for a particular lift. Balance is a whole other ball game if you have to engage the muscles in an awkward and unusual way meaning yeah it's cool to press 300 lbs. overhead with a barbell but how lifting that same weight but it's a stone or a rock. When you lift odd objects such as rocks or kegs hell even a log or small beam, your balance is going to be very awkward and in order to pick it up let alone press it or carry, you have to shift your hands different, your grip won't be even and you have to move the legs a bit to get a jolt while squeezing the abs to protect your lower back. You know how they say lift with the legs more than your back, well that's more of a vague look at what you need to do. I have lifted heavy boulders, carried many pieces of wood, hell I've had to carry a cooler a good distance that had the handles in a wide arm position and practically carried it in in the range where the bottom of it was touching my thighs and it was heavy as hell so don't tell me I don't know how to handle an odd object. Don't ever mistake that you can do cool things with barbells and dumbbells and expect to lift a narrow rock or a piece of furniture the way because you aren't. Lifting in this manner doesn't just engage muscles, it hits the whole system from the muscles to the joints, tendons and ligaments and because of the shifting you have to balance differently on a more frequent basis.
One of my favorite ways to do resistance training is using rubber cables like you would use from Lifeline USA. Unlike a dumbbell where the weight stays the same when you lift it it's very different compared to a cable where you lift it, it's attempting to bring you down and the weight becomes heavier the more you stretch it. When you pull/press or squat on a cable you're not isolating the muscles needed for that particular lift but you're engaging more muscles because it takes more effort on the stabilizing muscles needed to make that lift go. Say for example you have the TNT Cables and you have a fairly good amount of resistance that's tough for a few reps and wanted to do rows so you get into position that's needed for that exercise, still think you're only working your back and arms? Wrong, you're not only hitting those muscles but you're working the legs, hips, abs and chest because the other muscles are to help you stabilize the position and so you're hitting multiple muscle groups which in terms helps get stronger. I'm not saying lifting cables will make you lift super heavy weights but they teach the muscles what is needed for that particular lift and helping them remember which ones to engage in. Weights can be very expensive so why not go for the cables, they're easy to travel with, they don't take up much space and they're easy to adjust to the amount of resistance you want use. So what are you supposed to lift? Lift heavy things and learn the mechanics with good technique and understanding of the muscles needed and with odd objects, learn how your body balances in awkward positions and get a feel of where to shift and learn how the muscles are engaged in something you don't always find in a strict weight going up and down.
What a beautiful Friday and hope everyone has a great weekend. Keep in touch and share this article on twitter, facebook, google+ or whatever suits and shoot me a comment and let me know what you think. Be awesome and get stronger my frends.