Why getting strong is hard – Part III

I remember growing up when I had some small dumbbells around the house. They might have been 5kg or even 10kg dumbbells, the memory is hazy. I think they were originally my mum’s. I went to boxing training for a few weeks at university, and as part of a college football squad I had a routine of some body weight exercises: press ups, sit ups, planks etc. From all that I thought I knew some good exercises to increase my strength.

There’s such a difference between exercising at home or in a park, compared to going to a gym with expensive metal structures, long metal bars, really heavy round plates etc. And all those intimidating people who know what they’re doing, who look really imposing and judgemental.

It might be more convenient to buy a few little weights, or even a bench and start working out at home, but it’s a mistake. You can only get so far working out at home while a well fitted gym with olympic bars, weights of all different sizes, benches, and adjustable racks, will give you all you need to start a safe, progressive training routine.

You can plank for 10 minutes without actually getting stronger. Pressups will only ever allow you to press half your body weight, which is about half of what you should be striving for. Worse than trying to get strong using inappropriate exercises is the fact that random exercises will result in an imbalanced body.

Just as using fixed resistance machines in a gym will leave you strong in some places, weak in others, an imbalanced body is likewise prone to injury. If you do bicep curls, are you also balancing the opposite muscle, the tricep? If you do as many sit-ups as you can first thing in the morning to work your abs, how are you balancing the opposite muscles in the lower back? What you need is a small set of exercises that workout the whole body in perfect balance. Next time we’ll learn about just that with compound barbell lifts.