Strength training definitely has its pros and cons. And no, I’m not trying to persuade you to become a powerlifter or a strongman, indeed, these athletes are from another realm in this universe. My point is that strength training or resistance training is good and healthy for the body and I believe everyone should do it.
One of my classmates when I was at MacEwan University introduced me to strength training. The former high school football jock taught me how to do the “barbell big 3,” back-squats, bench press, and deadlifts. At that time, I possessed a mentality that strength training would make me big and heavy when I just wanted to remain light, fast, and explosive. Little did I know that strength training caters to all those aspects. I also had a few knee injuries from sports and physical activities including 2 ligament strains in one knee that took me 7 months to recover from and a bursa sac inflammation in my right knee which put me out for 2 months. You’d think and have to question, if you had those injuries, why even bother doing any type of physical activity? Me? I can’t help but move around and be active.
I became more consistent with working out over the time I was at MacEwan and I noticed that the period of time where I usually expected to get issues in the legs which made it a yearly occurring pattern where my unintelligent youth-side spurred me on to “push through the pain.” However, I did not get injured or have any issues. I rarely got cramps in my calves, runners knee, pull my hamstrings, and my knees weren’t having any pains. From this, I became obsessed with strength training because I felt like I found my magic pill and it became one of my coping mechanisms to relieve stress as I went through a tough relationship period during that time.
Fast forward to a year later where I did not possess a gym membership and I mainly engaged in 2 sports, volleyball and soccer. Short-story-told, I basically developed runners knee, pulled my hamstring, cramped all the time in my calf, and dropped weight due to losing the muscle mass I had gained. The adaptations from my training were merely not enough and obviously not planned accordingly. However, compared then to the knowledge I have developed from NAIT’s PFT program, I’ve learned that consistency in strength training is mandatory to witness growth and an improved neuromusculoskeletal system where longevity makes it harder for muscle mass to decrease. I should also mention that not all programs will work accordingly, it all comes down to analyzing your needs, background, daily lifestyle, and what’s healthy for you.
I have strength trained consistently for the past 2 years and have witnessed minimal injuries while gaining more benefits than I would have initially thought. Let me back-up my story with a few research citations of why strength training is good, and everyone should do it. Motor units are made up of skeletal muscle fibers and a motor neuron, innervated by motor neuron terminals. So, when you have groups of motor units together, they work together with coordination by contracting a single muscle. So, the total sum of a motor unit within a muscle is coined, motor pool. A pool of motor units in a muscle. I spent my time strength training with back squats and deadlifts mainly because my goals were to develop a strong base of strength, so I could reduce the potential risks of injuries, have a good base for developing explosive strength and speed, and have fun! Muscle units are recruited in a sequenced manner based on their size (smallest to largest) which means that depending on the intensity and load of the exercise, the bigger the load or intensity, the more motor units are recruited. For example, I racked up 8 sets of 5 repetitions for a deadlift when I had the flu (don’t ask) and managed to hit a personal record on that day of 355 pounds. I definitely recruited more motor units compared to if I were to deadlift 200 pounds for 5 sets of 5 repetitions.
High threshold motor units during training can be expanded to high intensity or magnitude during resistance training and many other ways to train as long as it’s high-threshold type of training. I have managed to indeed gain numbers in my strength training in order to strengthen the adaptations. A study was conducted with elite young soccer players by Ben Moussa and Hassane Zouha where they tested ages 13-14-year-old male athletes for one season. The results showed that soccer training simultaneously with 12 weeks of combined plyometric and resistance training leads to enhancement of anthropometric and explosive strength and related parameters, and also improvement in endurance performance, and reduces the injury occurrence in young elite soccer players. I find it absolutely amazing that these are some of the benefits to strength training, and this is why I think everyone should embrace it as an activity for themselves. I mean why not reduce the amount of injuries through strength training? No one likes getting injured.
By Chris Shu