Talking with a client today about how interested and surprised their doctor is about their progress brought forward a point we haven’t discussed in a long while. Doctors tend not to recommend strength training for exercise because of the potential for injury. It is all too common to hear of someone who was doing well with getting healthy from strength training only to have to stop due to minor or major injury.
Exercise should be good medicine not require it and the two primary culprits with strength training are momentum and favouring…we eliminate both.
- Momentum – it feels athletic and is natural to lift weight fairly quickly so as to get momentum working for you (see video 1 ‘with and without momentum’). The problem is when you have some decent strength the amount of weight you can lift plus the momentum is hard on your joints, not to mention prone to accidents from momentary loss of full control.
- Favouring – Though you tend not to notice it you favour certain muscles when doing anything that is physically demanding. Think of lifting something with both arms. You will naturally lift more with your dominant hand. The same goes for legs and in fact all of the hundreds of different muscles in your body (see video 2 ‘favouring and unilateral training’). Over time even as you get stronger from strength training it is common to worsen strength ‘imbalances’. This leads to injuries and is especially prevalent in athletes where their strengths are extremely dominant.
We assure you that you can safely build all the strength you want provided you avoid trying to move too quick and make sure to address all muscle groups and pay attention to imbalances. We always teach exercise form which eliminates momentum through controlled rep speeds and proper posture.
Favouring is a slightly more complex issue but we promote a lot of unilateral exercises as a good starting place. This means working exercise where your limbs or ‘sides’ of your body must work independently.
Bottom line don’t let safety be your excuse to avoid the single most important aspect of being fit and healthy…strength through strength training.
Be well, be strong,
Andrew and Tierney