Strength training can be confusing. It shouldn’t be, but we live in complicated times with complicated messages. I’ll go ahead and confuse things more right here as well. When I say, “strength training,” I mean building and maintaining health. Anyway, becoming strong and healthy can be frustrating if not confusing. So I wanted to give you a list of Dos and Don’ts when it comes to strength training. Here it goes:
Do move often, every day and throughout the day. Movement is what you were made to do and it is movement that builds health and keeps it.
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Life happens to us all. Things come up. Long days at work, long drives to work, family crisis, whatever. Not every day lends itself to our ability to deliberately move often. Don’t sweat it if you have a hectic day. Your body is more resilient than a day or two can remove.
Do challenge yourself. If you are trying to build strength in your muscles or control in your movements, push yourself. Pick up heavy things and move them from point A to point B. Explore movements that make you shake or challenge your range of motion, or balance. Discover where you can go and what you can do.
Don’t try to get a PR every day. If you don’t know, a PR is a personal record. PR’s are great and should be celebrated, but you don’t need to have one every day – as far as your training goes. You need ebbs and flows. You need challenging days and recovery days. Some days should be intense, while others should be easier. There will be some days when a long walk is the best thing you can do for yourself and there will be other days when you just need to throw heavy things around. Please know, heavy is relative.
Do enjoy moving. Find the ways YOU like to move and do them. Weight training, yoga, Tai Chi, cross-training, bike riding, running, kayaking, crawling, resetting or whatever. Your personality is fitted for certain activities. Any of them can be good for you, but there are some that will be great for you because they will bring you the most joy. Do those things. Just make sure walking is one of them!
Don’t confuse your identity for what it is you do. You’re not a weightlifter, a cross-fitter, a yogi, a cyclist, a runner, or even a crawler. You’re not a couch potato either. You’re not what you do. Your value is beyond the activity you do or do not express yourself with.
Do things that make your uncomfortable. The body and the mind respond and adapt to stresses we place on them. If you purposefully engage in things that make you uncomfortable, eventually you will find that they don’t When you become comfortable with the uncomfortable, you have strength.
Don’t stay in a box. Allow your thoughts and ideas to be challenged. Don’t let fear keep you from growing. Again, it is challenge and resistance that makes us stronger.
This strength training list is probably different than you were expecting. But strength training isn’t just about sets and reps, or even about exercise. It’s about growing and becoming. We were made to grow throughout life; all parts of us, inside and out. We do this by meeting challenges, pushing barriers, exploring new ideas, and moving – in both thought and body.
Do move. Do grow. Don’t stop.