Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Strength Triathlon

If you've followed this blog for a while or are familiar with my training philosophy, you know that I feel strength is a foundamental quality for health, fitness, and performance. There are different types of strength, so strength has to be put in context. A type of strength that is very important for most people is relative strength. That is how strong are you relative to your body weight. This is evident in how you well you move and control your body.

For all of us, we get heavier and weaker as we age, unless we intervene with diet and exercise. The scale is the most common way to assess our bodies. But we know the scale doesn't differentiate between fat or lean body weight. The body fat measurement does, but doesn't assess strength. A superior method would be to measure strength based on body weight, or our ability to lift our own body weight. This method takes body weight (composition) and strength into consideration. As we train our strength increases. And with adequate dietary changes our weight will decrease. Our relative strengthindicates both, our body composition and strength level.

For some people, their relative strength can be the difference between being able to get off the floor or not. However, the average adult (esp those just looking to get 'fit') needs a higher criterion. That is why I developed the Strength Triathlon. The Strength Triathlon is a set of three body-weight lifts to gauge whether someone has adequate relative strength.

The first lift is the Pull-Up

Women should be able to perform one repetition and men should be able to perform one repetition with an additional 10% of their body weight. Men who are over 50 don't need the additonal 10% of body weight added.

The second exercise is the

Women should be able to perform 10 repetitions, while men should be able to also do 10 repetitions, but with 10% extra bodyweight (not for 50+ years).

The last exercise is the Pistol (single-leg squat)

Both men and women should be able to perform one repetition (hip descends as low as knee under control) on each leg.

The criterion are fairly high for the average adult. However, that just indicates the importance of strength and body composition. And gives many clients a high, but attainable goal that emphasises performance as much as body composition.

As of today, only one (of more than 50 clients) has reached this goal. Congratulations, Maggie, for achieving the Strength Triathlon!

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