Great Strength or No Weakness?

 

By: Kyle Arsenault CSCS

As a follow up to my last post Getting Stronger Without “Strength” Training, I wanted to talk a bit more about strength, what most people think about when talking about strength, and what true strength really is. So let’s dive in…

Strength is the base for every athletic movement.  Strength is the limiting factor when it comes to progressing performance both as an athlete and average Joe alike. Actually to be more accurate, it is relative strength (your strength vs your body mass) that separates the elite athlete from the average athlete.  When all else is held constant, the stronger, and in most cases, the more powerful the athlete, the more likely that athlete is to be successful and come out on top. Unless…the strength and power gained in the weight room is not being translated to sport. And this happens more often than most performances coaches would like to admit. Strength and conditioning / performance training are crucial to enhancing overall athletic success, but there is a critical problem when we get so caught up focusing on only increasing our strength, or more specifically, the classic definition of strength.

 

Too many of us are focused on how much weight we can move. I mean hell, isn’t that definition of strength? Strength, is a quality of being strong, and to be strong is to be able to produce or resist force (move heavy stuff or stop it from moving). Until recently I would have to agree, but as I become smahta in this game I have realized that strength is not the ability to move weight, and most importantly, it is not the ability to become stronger at something we are already strong with. Rather, the definition, and defining factor when considering true strength is…

WEAKNESS. Yep, that’s right. The defining factor when considering true strength is weakness! “Whoa, whoa, whoa, did this dude just say that strength is weakness?”  I can hear it now…”What the HELL are you talking about?” Well, I did not state that strength is weakness. What I am saying is that you are only as strong as your greatest weakness.

 

You're Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link

 

Therefore, the true definition of strength is one’s ability to limit weakness. By eliminating weakness you inherently gain strength. The athletes who are the most efficient and who have the fewest weaknesses will be the strongest, most successful athletes. Not only will these athletes dominate competition through enhanced athletic performance (as addressed in the previous post), but because they have fewer weaknesses (especially concerning proper movement) they are less likely to sustain injury. And best of all…because these athletes are more efficient and utilize a higher percentage of the strength they already possess, their bodies don’t have to expend as much energy to complete athletic tasks: in turn they outlast the competition in the later stages of the game.

So just how do we train to limit our weaknesses? First you have to identify your weaknesses. Start with the greatest one first. Many times weakness occurs with lack of stability in the core (front, back and sides…not just the six pack muscles), hips (your BUTT) and scapula (shoulder blades). Of course this is not the same for everyone, so identifying individual weakness is vital to success. From there, addressing these weaknesses with proper movement and manipulation of your greatest training tool (your very own body weight), you can limit weakness and subsequently, dramatically enhance strength. The last step (which too many still implement as the first step) is to add extra resistance to the perfected movement, and eventually, let me state that again, EVENTUALLY, move heavy stuff (I’m all for moving heavy stuff as long as the movement is pure and correct). But sticking with bodyweight, bands, medicine balls, etc to first correct weakness will provide you with the greatest return on your training investment.

 

Tell me this dude isn't strong...

 

Stronger, quicker, more powerful, more work capacity (endurance) and less likely to get injured…that sounds pretty promising. All you have to do is work on limiting your weaknesses (movement flaws, stability, etc) rather than focusing on just moving heavy weight. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be the individual with no weakness than the individual with great “strengths.” A play on words? Maybe. But even the strongest individual will fail when their weakness is exposed. But what happens when there is no weakness? Just think about it, and voice your opinion with a comment below.

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