I bet I can out-bench your dad!
Well, he is 55–and even still probably not.
That was the recent exchange between my daughter and one of her coaches after she told him I’d said he could use some time in the gym. (God bless kids for blabbing everything you say!)
Truth is, most people who lift measure their level of conditioning by how much they can lift. There’s certainly some validity to that thinking, but mainly if you’re a weight-lifter.
Otherwise, it doesn’t mean squat–at least not to me.
Sure being able to lift more weight means you’re getting stronger. And lifting heavier weight helps you get big.
But there are plenty of guys in the gym who can lift more than me, but their overall conditioning sucks.
They can pile on the plates, but from the look of their gut they’re also piling it on their plates. And they couldn’t through a yoga or spin class, or match my high-intensity, interval-focus warm-up.
To me the true measure of your level of fitness isn’t wholly how much you can lift but how long can you go.
I believe in building not just muscle but muscle endurance–and many trainers agree. While I occasionally track my one-rep max for moves like the bench and squat, I generally work with less weight and execute more reps.
Try it for three weeks. Do your usual regiment, but use 10%-20% less weight than normal, and rather than going 12-10-8 on the reps, do 25-20-15.
This will also help you revisit your form, which we often neglect, especially the longer we train and the more we emphasize how much over how.
Keeping the proper form when weight training not only increases the effectiveness of the move but also helps prevent injuries.
Using the muscle endurance strategy not only maintains and builds strength, but it also helps you in sports and, well, wherever you need endurance…
Roy S. Johnson is the founder of Fit! Live! Win! and former Editor-in-Chief of Men’s Fitness. Fit! Live! Win! was created to be the only workout buddy you’ll ever need, to help you challenge yourself with new workout moves, training regiments and eating strategies from the best trainers and nutritionists in the business. For more information about Roy S. Johnson and Fit! Live! Win! visit www.FitLiveWin.wordpress.com.