Strength Training Will Force You to Fix (Almost) Everything

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Strength Training Will Force You to Fix (Almost) Everything

by Andrew Lewis, SSC | November 21, 2023

Any novice who does the Starting Strength linear progression will get
stronger. The duration of this progress, however, has a wide range: 3
months on the shorter end to 7 months or more on the longer end.
Progress will last longer if the lifter organizes his life to
optimize recovery elements, mental requirements, and limiting
physical conditions. Linear progression is a relatively short period
of time in which a massive amount of progress can be made.

More than half of all
lifetime training progress will occur in the first 6 months if you do
it correctly. Maximizing this training can have profound effects on
your life both immediately and long term. As a result, obstacles that
come up in the linear progression will reveal opportunities for
improvement in mental capability and physical habits.

Diet

You don’t get
stronger from lifting weights. You get stronger from recovering
from lifting weights that you were previously unadapted to. The
stress must be sufficient to demand the body to adapt, but the
recovery must also be sufficient to respond to that demand. The first
month of a linear progression is easy. You show up, add 5 pounds more
than last time, do your sets, go home, and you don’t have to do
much else. You’ll make progress as long as you’re consistent and
not skipping workouts. But after the first month, recovery starts to
be a limiting factor for trainees who don’t understand what is
required. Continuing linear progression will require you to address
existing inadequacies in your recovery.

You have to eat
correctly, which means eating the right amount of protein and
calories. The right amount – not too much, not too little. Most
trainees eat too little and have to learn how to eat more. Some
trainees use this advice as an excuse to continue to eat too much and
not remove unnecessary food they should probably get rid of anyway.
You’ll still get stronger on too much protein and calories, but
you’ll also get fat. A gram of protein per pound of bodyweight is a
good starting place.

Additionally, you need
sufficient vitamins and minerals – a lifter whose leg cramps every
time he bench presses heavy is going to have a hard time completing
all 3 sets of 5. Insufficient carbohydrates will also make completing
workouts difficult.

Sleep
– Quality and Quantity

You have to sleep
enough. This could be 7, 8, 9, or maybe even 10 hours of sleep a day.
It depends, but it must be enough to recover. That sleep has to be
high quality. Go to sleep at a consistent time. Wake up at a
consistent time. Don’t stay up all night partying or playing video
games. If your dog or cat is waking you up in the middle of the
night, lock them in the basement. Don’t sleep having recently
consumed alcohol, marijuana, or caffeine. These all disrupt sleep
quality. Many lifters who like marijuana and alcohol argue that it
helps them get to sleep – which may be true, but once they are
asleep, quality suffers.

Recovery occurs outside
of the gym. Do what is necessary to recover from the workouts, and
you’ll make more progress than you would have previously thought
possible.

Discipline
and Mental Toughness

The process of linear
progression also forces you to become mentally resolute and
determined. The weak-willed or weakly-motivated do not get out of bed
at 5:00am or go to the gym after work 3 times per week to do the
hardest activity they have to do today. The weak-willed either quit
this program or develop discipline to train consistently, show up and
push hard, and learn from failure. This isn’t challenging in the
beginning of the program. Soon, though, you have to go to every
workout not knowing if you can add 5 pounds to the bar, but you try
anyway, regardless of your fear of failure. You learn when you truly
fail.

And you definitely
don’t give up. Don’t rack the bar after the fourth rep. Squat
down, not truly knowing if you can do it, hit depth, and drive up out
of the bottom as best as you can. This develops resolution: do what
you say, and commit to doing it. It also builds discipline: doing
something in spite of a fear or concern.

Limitations

Strength training and
the novice linear progression do not fix everything – every
solution has limitations. Training does not fix congenital issues,
disease, and issues that require surgery – although strength will
better prepare you for these problems. An inguinal hernia, for
example – when the intestines push out of the abdominal wall in the
groin – can only be trained around. It cannot be cured with
lifting. Only surgery can fix that. However,
training can reveal previously unknown problems, such as structural problems like scoliosis or
a leg-length discrepancy – problems assumed to be insubstantial
that must be taken into account as the weight on the bar goes up.

Large unadapted stress
is also, by definition, not prepared for in the novice linear
progression. Strength improves all physical attributes (even cardio),
but a new stress will always present a challenge. For example,
strength will allow a man to carry bucket after bucket of cement in a
day, but he will still be extremely sore the next day. Walking 30
miles in a day is not going to be easy for a lifter who is accustomed
to only walking one mile a day. But both situations will always be
more manageable for a strong person than for a weak person.

The
End Result

You will come out of a
properly executed linear progression far different than when you went
in – the physical strength and aesthetic changes aside. These
changes came about as a direct result of focusing on doing what is
necessary to add 5 pounds next time to your squat.

What do your habits and
life look like now? You have good sleep habits, you don’t smoke or
drink too much, and you eat a balanced diet with lots of animal meat,
carbohydrates, and micronutrients. You’ve developed a good
lifestyle regarding your sleep, diet, and extracurriculars by
focusing on making your workouts successful. You are resolute and
determined. You push yourself to do what you say you will do even
when you are scared of failure and its implications. You’ve
discovered and treated problems that would need to be treated anyway
to improve your life. You will come out of linear progression a
completely different person by focusing almost exclusively on doing
what is necessary to add 5 pounds to the bar each workout for 3
workouts a week.  




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