What is Strength?
I’ve considered it many times before, and I still like “my” definition –
The ability to overcome.
With regards to physical strength, who is strong?
That’s obviously relative to the goals of the individual.
How about a Powerlifter who can squat 1000+ lbs?
If he can’t do a 1-arm Chin-up, does that make him weak?
It’s all about your definitions.
What about a rock climber who can scroll steel?
One of the most impressive things I’ve seen is my friend Kevin Perrone, who at 5’11” and 165lbs could do a pull-up with 130lbs hanging from his body, one-arm chins, scroll steel, tear phone books, and destroy the RKC Snatch Test. But he couldn’t Power Clean for anything. Does that make him weak?
Watching Brett Jones bend a Red Nail at an RKC Meet and Greet was also right up there.
Here’s another – watching Mark Reifkind tirelessly rebuild his body and recapture lost function for the last 10 years.
Or watching a video of John Brookfield tearing 59 decks of cards in 60 seconds.
And finally, one of my clients who I trained last night – a 71-year old, 110lbs grandmother who, despite being told by her Ortho that she has degenerative disc disease, can still deadlift her bodyweight. And, despite having severe arthritis in her hands still looks for ways to keep her dexterity.
Strength is really what YOU make of it. As long as you keep seeing progress and improvement in your life, you are still getting stronger.
When you’re not, it’s time to pull the old proverbial car off the side of the road and take it in for a check up.
For me, I used to measure strength by how much I could lift over my head. Now, it’s all about energy acquisition and management, which I realize after writing, seems nebulous. It really is that I no longer want to do anything or train in such a way that diminishes my energy levels to the point that I can’t participate in the life I currently have and create the life I want.
And that means having had to give up certain things. Like weightlifting. Who knows – maybe one day I’ll step back onto the competition platform, but right now, everything I’m doing is to undue all the stuff that was damaged by chasing that dream.
But I don’t want that to sound like a bad thing – it’s not at all. For example, yesterday was my first foray into “One-arm Chin Land.” And it was FUN! It’s a new adventure. And Sunday, I was able to do 15 consecutive (and explosive!) Pistols off a 1/2 inch block on my left side and 13 on my right – a new PR for me. Both of these things I either couldn’t do or wouldn’t have considered trying back when I was weightlifting.
(For the record: My Pistol is now more stabile, more explosive, more controlled, and I am able to endure longer doing it than I EVER have.)
So what’s my point in sharing all of this with you?
Strength is how YOU define it.
And it’s different for different people. And no matter how you measure it or define it, never let anyone diminish your ideas of strength.
And, just as important, just because you can’t do one particular thing do to an injury or movement restriction, doesn’t mean you can’t alter that movement (mentioned in my last post) or do something else altogether.
What’s the key to getting stronger then?
As I see it, it’s constantly defining and redefining your own definitions of strength and then overcoming those momentary obstacles.
What’s your definition of strength?