Here are a couple of basic training principles I’ve been thinking about. I started off trying to write a list of five, but stopped at two instead – no need to make things more complicated than they have to be.
Be strong to be useful
We are all well aware of the value of strength training. Getting stronger makes most other activities easier.
This quote says it all – I’ve seen it attributed to various people – Dan John, Brett Jones and Eric Cressy – all smart guys and worth listening to.
Maximal strength is the glass in which all other strength qualities fit into and at a certain point you will be limited by the size of the glass.
That said, there is a difference between being strong to be useful, and just being strong. You have to be able to apply any strength built in the gym outside of the gym.
This is not just a machines vs free weights thing, but also about keeping balance, like still being able to do a pull up while getting better at picking up heavy stuff.
Gym lifts are impressive, but the ability to express that strength in real life has to be the main aim.
Move so that you can
The human body is capable of a wide variety of incredible and interesting movements – train them, play with them and enjoy them.
This starts with basic natural movements that can be useful in life:
- If you can crawl it helps play with your kids.
- If you can run you won’t miss that train.
- If you can climb tree you can escape a hungry tiger.*
It is also well worth including more playful, exploratory movement as well – gymnastics, handbalancing, capoeira, dancing etc – they teach you lot about your body and what it can do.
If you consistently move in your training, you will be able to consistently move. It sounds obvious but is easy to miss if you focus too heavily on gym training. I think that maintaining wide-ranging movement ability is fundamental to healthy longevity.
* I know tigers are pretty good at tree climbing too. The likelihood in the tiger situation is that you are just fucked – but you get my point.