Why Strength Training Must Be A Part Of Your Program, with BASE Fitness Coach Jason
Jack Thomas talks to BASE Coach Jason about the importance of building strength, the many benefits it brings and some common misconceptions about resistance training.
Strength training has become more popular in the past few years, but why exactly should you strength train?
Jason Deknatel is an NSCA certified strength and conditioning coach who specializes in barbell strength training. He will take us through the importance of strength training and why everyone should incorporate it into their training program.
Can you introduce yourself and how you get into the fitness industry?
I studied business management in my first year in university and realised shortly after that it was not for me. I decided to change my major and came across exercise science at Syracuse university, so I transferred there.
After I graduated I reached out to a few people for career opportunity, but I realised then that there was no “strength training coaching” in Thailand yet back then. When you say “strength training” people will think of running a 10k or doing 100 push ups. Later on I met BASE coach Lee who introduced me to BASE, and that was where it all started.
At what point did you start to realise the importance of strength training? Was it before you started your degree or was it during the research you were doing as part of your degree?
It was during my degree. I had a severe hamstring injury when I was 17, and I learnt during my rehab that strength training is not just about performance but also for injury prevention. That was when I decided to study deeper into it.
What does your training look like now? How is the program like?
I am doing powerlifting at the moment. My training is four days of strength training and once or twice of cardio per week. My strength training program focuses on the three main liftings which are squat, bench and deadlift.
What is the difference between powerlifting and strength training?
Most people think they are the same thing, but they are actually not. Strength training is more specific for a certain task. That could be strength training for triathlon, cycling, pole vaulting, sprinting. Powerlifting is focusing on one repetition at maximum weight.
They are working on developing strength but they are not the same thing. Strong man and powerlifting is another common misconception since they do bench, squat and deadlift as well. Strong man focuses on max repetitions for a certain amount of time as opposed to one max repetition at the heaviest weight in powerlifting.
Why should people develop that ‘one rep max’? What is the benefit of that? We find that this is not a common practice for gym goers as most people do three sets of ten reps.
Honestly there is no extra benefits to it unless you’re doing it for powerlifting or competition.
If you want to move better, put on more muscle or want to be stronger in general, doing more reps will give you more sport benefits than just pursuing a one rep max.
Why do you think people associate being fit and strong with cardio but not strength training? Like how we say the fittest people are ones who run marathon.
My guess on this would be it is commonly seen in mass media like movies or commercial where people are sweating after doing cardio. It is also a more wide spread way of training as we see all running events are packed.
Another one would be the influence from medical industry. Most recommendation from doctors for patient to stay fit is to go for a walk or run. People wouldn’t think much and take it as a guideline to stay fit.
There are also misconception that weight lifting is bad for your knees or back which put people off from strength training.
Can you tell us some common misconception you have heard about strength training and why they are not correct?
We commonly hear people say squats are bad for our knees or deadlift are bad for our back. Statistically speaking, lifting is the safest sport when we compare the injury rate with other sports. If we look at team sports, there are many uncontrollable factors like people running to you or tackling hands. Beyond that, strength training helps strengthen your muscle and is proven to help reduce chance of injury by 30%-50%.
When people see someone with big weight on their back squatting, they automatically think that it is dangerous. The fact they skip is we do not jump to 200kg squat in one day, strength training is gradually building up over months or years of training.
There are also videos of heavy lifting that went wrong going viral on the internet. That can cause people to think that lifting is dangerous. Most cases are that they are in a competition and going beyond their limit or the lifting was done incorrectly.
Does strength training make women look bulky? Is that something they should be concerned about?
No, I wish building muscle was that easy. I think this misconception comes from how we see muscular women with popping veins on health magazine.
These models have been through rigid training and strict diet plan for years or even decades. Not only that, it also comes down to hormones and genetics. Looking like that is not easy, it takes huge effort and consistency, it can’t happen by accident.
Have you had female clients who are afraid of strength training? How do you structure training program for them?
Yes, I would say half of my female clients are concerned if they will get bulky from lifting. I reassured them that if one day you wake up and look bigger, we can stop this and adjust the program.
After they tried for a few weeks or months they started to embrace it and realise they are not getting bigger. It actually gave them the ‘toned look’ they want but didn’t realise it is from strength training programs, not 50 reps of banded bicep curls.
Is there any aspect of strength training that we have missed?
Aside from how it changes your body composition, one big positive effect is it improves your quality of life. Overtime our body naturally lose muscle mass, as we get older. Strength training helps us maintain these muscle which we find is a predictor for reducing Osteoporosis and mortality rate.
Being sable to perform when you get old doesn’t necessarily mean you can run marathon at 60. Sometimes it’s the ability to go up and down the stairs on your own, walk by yourself or play with your grandchildren.
Research found that people who strength train three to four times a week spend less time in ICU and on respirator. Our bones become more brittle once we age, but elders who strength train have more bone density and carry less chance of breaking something. Women who have more muscle mass have a better chance to recover from breast cancer.
In sum, the benefits of strength training go far beyond how you look physically.
How do you recommend someone to get started with their strength training. Let’s say they are not in Bangkok.
I would recommend you start at BASE, we have a team that will prepare everything for you. But if you cannot make it to BASE, you can find any gym with squat racks, barbells or free weights. Start your program with basic compound or multiple joints movement like squat, overhead press, deadlift or bench.
Once you have a strong lifting basics you can start adding more weight and focus on other isolation if you want.