We asked several fitness experts what their idea of being a “strong” man or woman is. Nawaf A. Aziz Bin Shams, Founder of Fit& Well Gym Bahrain says “My definition of being physically strong doesn’t revolve around the concept of appearance, but instead how a person is able to lift two or three times his/her body weight, how a person can still manage to go through vigorous workouts and still have enough energy for one more workout”.
The allure of the strong man has been repeatedly explored in films, movies, and books. Gulf Insider explores this cultural phenomenon and tries out powerlifting with Olympic weight-lifter Janet Georges.
T Nation (a website dedicated to powerlifting), says that “Powerlifters teach us to focus first on strength, emphasize good form, and narrow our focus. All good stuff”. The benefits of powerlifting are manifold, as it is based on a full range of motion movements that are used every day. So when a person trains on these movements, s/he will be less prone to injury. An example of a motion movement is the Back Squat which literally works the whole body if executed properly, thus resulting in a strong “midline” and “lower body”.
On average, a person can start making progress from the first month if they work out at least three times a week. Beginners are taught fundamental movements like the Back Squats, Deadlifts, Front Squats, and the Strict Press. These movements give people a better understanding of the full range motion movements and will be used in advanced movements which transitions to other movements said Bin Shams.
Lift More, Get Stronger
An article published in Bodybuilding.com (2016) claims that “in a well-designed program, the student makes advances every micro-cycle (usually every 1-2 weeks). This is done by either adding weight or reps to the work (set) that was done the week or two before”.
But even the most hardcore training methods revolve around simple principles, the main one being: lift heavier weights, get stronger. Many people believe that bodybuilders are just like powerlifters, and the presence of those bulging muscles mean that the man or woman in question is powerful and strong. In reality, bodybuilders may not be able to reach up to the level of powerlifters in terms of strength and how much weight they are able to carry.
Women and Stereotypes
More women are getting into the weight training trend now, wanting to be fit and strong. It definitely builds up their confidence and makes them emotionally and mentally tougher. As bin Shams said, “Strong is the new Sexy”.
One of the myths about women and powerlifting is that women shouldn’t lift anything heavy or they become bulky. Gwyneth Paltrow’s trainer famously doesn’t allow her to lift anything that’s more than 3 lbs. in weight. Which basically means that Gwyneth can’t pick up groceries, lift a chair, or carry her child. The idea is ludicrous.
Women bodybuilders get bulky because they eat, train, and take supplements so that they can look like that. And the truth is, they’ve probably been working toward that goal for years and years. When women lift weights and eat healthy food, two things will happen. 1) Their muscles get stronger, and 2) they will burn the fat on top of their muscle giving them a “toned” look, that is very popular among celebrities nowadays (nerdfitness.com).
Advice from the Pros
In Bahrain, lift junkies can look forward to the Bahrain Battle of Heroes in December, where athletes will have to endure several workouts a day demonstrating their overall athletic abilities, especially Olympic weightlifting.
Don’t take shortcuts says bin Shams. Start from the beginning and improve your form. If you start overreaching beyond your weight capacity, you risk horrible joint pains, and tendonitis among other things. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to practice with a trainer who can spot and guide you to make sure that you have the correct form.
Recovery is also a crucial and often overlooked aspect of strength training. Adequate sleep and rest between workouts cannot be underestimated. The more physical activity you do, the more the muscles and nervous system will break down in the natural course of experiencing stress on the body.
Finally practice is what separates the pros from the beginners. Starting out may be hard, but lifting weights will get easier over time. The good news is that every single training session, you’ll be rapidly increasing your stability and coordination. Every week, the lifts feel more and more natural. In two to three months, most of the lifts will feel
right, and in a year, you’ll feel quite confident in your form and exercise competency.