Written by Jen Keck
Get Strong First: Your Goals Depend On It
“Seriously, this is like your fourth class. How are you doing that?” the girl on the pole next to me asked incredulously.
I had just hopped into a handspring in Pole Sport at J&M Expressions, and was completely inverted, holding on with both hands while the rest of my body hovered next to the pole, in a mind-boggling, Matrix-like fashion.
She was right. It was only my fourth class, and after attempting handspring just a few times I managed to not only spring up into it, but to hold it. (I will admit that this surprised me, too.)
How did I do it?
I got strong first.
Now, this is not to imply that I’m incredible at Pole Sport, nor is it to say that handspring is the most impressive Pole feat, because those things simply aren’t true.
My point is that already having developed a really solid strength base helped tremendously when it came to trying something new with my body, and it has allowed for me to focus more on the movements, rather than having to focus on building basic strength and trying to learn the moves.
The same thing holds true in aerial Silks, which is something else that I’ve dove into for the last couple of months. A really solid pull-up game has enabled me to do some things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.
Do Your Physique or Performance Goals Require Strength?
Let me go ahead and answer that for you: chances are, yes. Yes, they do.
I’m seeing a lot of people that are setting goals that don’t realize the importance of establishing, or at least simultaneously working towards, strength.
Whether you want to be the hardest hitter on your football team next season, a killer Pole and Aerialist performer, a rock-climbing enthusiast this summer, or you just want to be able to re-arrange your living room furniture by yourself, getting strong is necessary.
Let’s Talk Gains
This is a biggie.
Many men want to put on mass, but the tide is finally turning and many women are trying to add size to change the shape their physique, more specifically their legs, and most definitely the glutes.
“What can I do to make my butt bigger?”
This has become one of the most frequently asked questions I get from the ladies.
Who do you think it going to achieve the shapely gams and derriere she is after first:
The girl that is doing walking lunges with 5 pound dumbbells, or the girl that is doing walking lunges with 35 pound dumbbells?
The girl that is squatting 55 pounds, or the girl that is squatting with 135 pounds?
Let me pause here to ease the minds of those women that do not desire to add size. Volume along with the right diet is what leads to mass gain. You can increase your strength, and squat/deadlift relatively big numbers without adding much size, if any at all.
If hypertrophy is your goal, you need to get stronger. After all, the more weight you can push/pull, the more size you can put on.
What does this mean for you? You need to start spending more time on big multi-joint movements to get you stronger, and less time on fruitless, piddly exercises that target itty-bitty muscles one at a time.
In other words, you have no business doing bicep curls if you can’t do pull-ups.
You have no reason to be on the leg extension machine if you aren’t squatting your body weight.
You have no reason to be standing on the BOSU ball if… well… ever.
Exercises that isolate specific little muscles (tricep kickbacks, for example) work one thing, and one thing only – that small area.
Squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, big pressing movements, and lunges are some examples of movements that provide the most bang for your workout buck, because they work numerous different muscles at the same time.
Things that recruit as many muscles as possible will get you stronger. They also demand more energy expenditure, which is a bonus if your goal is to change your body composition.
Being Strong Makes Life Easier
Maybe you don’t have aspirations to participate in physical sports. That’s cool, but putting all of the health benefits of resistance training aside, you should still get stronger to make your life easier.
Climbing those six flights of stairs up to your apartment every evening, moving your belongings to another home, carrying all of your kids sports equipment from the car to the field…. strength is necessary for life.
Being strong will cause you to run faster, jump higher, hit the ball further, function better, and transform you into a world-dominating, invincible ninja*
*Last part may or may not be true.Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Jen Comas Keck is a nutrition expert and NASM certified trainer. Keck has a very diverse fitness journey, from cardio queen, group fitness instructor to figure competitor. This range of experience allows her to speak on a variety of topics facing people. In addtion to the mergers and acquisitions company Jen owns with her husband, she also operates a successful nutrition coaching business. Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter