When most people think about strength training, they choose a handful of activities and repeat each of them, gradually adding more load as time goes by. If the building blocks in this picture represent your strength, as you build your strength in one activity, we can add another building block to the stack.
This is great for building strength in that one particular direction for that particular move. Now you can handle more force in some directions (like pushing down on the blocks), but as soon as we add a force from a different direction, the blocks fall over. Which means that although we’re building SOME strength from these movements, we’re still vulnerable to injury when we move in other ways.
The traditional way to counteract this is to choose more activities and also gradually add more load doing those, which means that although we have SOME crossover, we’re still just building strength in separate columns, like this picture.
Because each of these activities is likely to be building strength in one just direction. It’s difficult to build any kind of resilience into our strength training unless we have an endless supply of activities and an endless amount of time to train to make sure we cover everything.
So, instead of adding more load in lots of different activities, take one or two activities and change all the ways that we can do it. Let’s use squats as an example.
We can do squats in the traditionally “correct” way, but we can also do them with wide feet, or narrow feet, or with one foot in front of the other, or with our toes turned in, or turned out, the list goes on.
Now, instead of building strength in just one direction for each activity, we’re building strength in MANY different directions, making our stack look more like this:
But we can really ramp up the amount of resilience we’re building if we change our direction of movement within that one activity too. Now our stack looks more like this:
Instead of a tall, skinny wall that is susceptible to falling down, we’ve built a robust structure that can withstand MANY different forces – all from ONE activity!
AND, by building this amount of variation into our strength training, we’re also reducing the amount of load that a small amount of muscles have to cope with and spreading it around the entire joint, which not only builds strength around the entire joint, but also reduces the amount of stiffness in that joint.
If we then multiply this method across each activity, we’ve got a recipe for building insane amounts of strength while at the same time reducing the risk of injury.
In an ideal world, we’d all start doing this immediately, but the reality is that many of us already have stiffness in our bodies that are causing movement restrictions, so it’s my recommendation that before we dive into adding load, we need to look at unwinding the restrictions in our bodies first and one of the best places to do that is in the spine.
So, if you want to take your strength to the next level, just take a minute to check out my FREE spine revitaliser video playlist, you’ll remove movement restrictions which will unlock strength reserves you didn’t know you had, then we can build from there!