13 Aug Tools in the Toolbox
By Will Kuenzel
Tools are only as useful as the nature of their implementation. Trying to hammer a screw won’t work quite as well as a screwdriver. As we look to the fitness world, our chosen sport can often shift our bias of what tools are needed in our toolbox. Powerlifters and bodybuilders are notorious for this, but it often creeps into other areas, as well. I’m guilty of having done this years ago. In the past, I would think that everyone could have benefitted from box squats and deadlifts. Now, I only use exercises when they’re appropriate. The question is, when are they appropriate?
First step: A proper assessment of the end-goal. We’ll use the case of a person making some New Year’s resolution to lose some weight. Do they want to lose weight or do they want to look better? Looking better might entail losing some weight, but if it’s to look better, then the training might be a bit different. Is the goal to get healthier? Yes, typically losing weight means getting healthier but again, the direction might be slightly different. Sometimes it takes a more complex approach, and other times they only need to do something they’ve never done before. Don’t just look at the end goal but listen to and learn from the process. A goal is excellent, but you need to enjoy the journey to some degree.
I love lifting weights; it’s what I enjoy most. I can utilize lifting weights to meet most of my goals. If I need to lose some fat: I’ll do more circuit or HIIT style training. If I need to put on muscle: I’ll do more hypertrophy style work. If I need to get ready for a powerlifting competition: I’ll do powerlifting. While weight training is extremely versatile, it doesn’t cover everything. There are aspects of it that can help with flexibility and mobility but if it’s not used correctly can be detrimental. The same goes for endurance training. Runners, cyclists, and swimmers can all benefit from weight training but only if it’s used correctly and only then as a secondary tool. There are no substitutes for the primary endeavor. If you want to run a marathon, then don’t stop running and start lifting weights. If a client comes to me with the goal of running a marathon, I won’t have them testing their one rep max too often.
Just as a plumber and a carpenter may utilize some of the same tools for their trade, the same applies to fitness professionals; Weight training might be used by both a powerlifter and a runner. One might use the tool a little differently than the other. The critical thing to know is when to seek the proper professional, or tool, for the job. If I were training to run a marathon, I would squat less; if I were preparing for a powerlifting meet, I would run less. Whatever the profession or fitness endeavor, don’t force the tool to work for a job that it is not intended.
Every job has a tool that is best suited for the task at hand. The hard part is making sure that the right tool is picked. Two things come into play here: efficiency and sustainability. Our fitness journey is meant to be a long one; it’s going to take time. Losing weight shouldn’t happen too quickly, sorry folks. It really shouldn’t be a short-term thing. Lifestyle changes take time. Putting on all that weight didn’t happen overnight so I’m not sure why anyone would expect it to come off overnight. Sure, there are things we can do to speed up the process, and those are the matter of efficiency, but it’s also important to be able to hold onto the desire to keep going, and this is sustainability. What’s the point in losing the weight quickly if you then get burnt out, quit, get discouraged, and gain it all back?
It’s a matter of balance between efficiency and sustainability. What often works best might also be what keeps it from being sustainable. In the case of weight loss, the high-intensity approach has shown to have some severe effect on weight loss efficiency. High intensity, however, is difficult to sustain and needs to be chosen when appropriate. Sometimes we need low bouts of intensity to make our approach sustainable. It might not be optimal, but doing something is more optimal than doing nothing. The consistent work, day in and day out, will affect. Being able to sustain our journey without getting too sidetracked is how we reach our goals.
If you’re serious about reaching your goal, find the right tools, enjoy the process, and kept hammering away. 10/20/Life gives you plenty of tools to get you started with a sustainable approach to your strength training goals, regardless of your level of experience.