What Contractors Should Do At The Gym
By John Donaldson
Chances are you lift heavy, awkward things from time-to-time, and then you climb a ladder with them. What you have is an “on-the-job” strength benefit, which accountants could never achieve in their office. That’s the good news, but with a cautionary note. Most work is physically task specific, like having the skill and strength to hang dry wall.
Where specific skilled movement and strength fails is when we try to transfer it to something that demands systemic strength. Think of this as the difference between moving a large granite boulder thirty yards in a wheel barrow versus lifting and carrying the same boulder thirty yards. Unless you have routinely lifted and carried progressively heavier boulders, you are likely to fail to lift it, or you’ll lift it and hurt yourself.
That said, I want to make the case for making yourself as strong as possible. Since strength is the ability to apply force, then the more force you produce results in greater work capacity, among other benefits. The most productive way to get strong is by training with a barbell. A barbell can be loaded in very small increments, and it requires the lifter to overcome gravity in a balanced, coordinated movement.
Barbells Win Over Machines
Such a concept should not be new to you. When you bend down and lift a bag of cement your body is moving as a system; your brain tells your body to move in a sequence that moves the load to the desired place. The human body prefers to move things this way, and the barbell is the ideal tool for accommodating the movements we’d like to strengthen.
Why is this? The range the barbell travels and the number of muscles recruited to move our large, bony levers about several joints begins a muscular, skeletal, and cellular stress-adaptation cycle that is unparalleled in weighted human movement. The back squat, overhead press, and deadlift produce more of this training stimulus than any machine based circuit, which moves the body as a collection of unrelated segments.
You can learn more about this approach at www.strartingstrength.com. If you’re interested in training this way, feel free to contact John Donaldson at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can also be reached afternoons and evenings at the Beede Swim & Fitness Center, 498 Walden Street in Concord, across from the high school. 978-287-1015.