Here’s my trainee Ebrahim squatting 220 lbs (100 kilograms) x 5 Repetition Maximum. At our first meeting Ebrahim and I discussed at length the process of strength training. I asked him to help me understand his perception of strength training, and his past experiences with training methodologies that he had used. I then gave him an understanding of what I have learnt over the years, my perceptions (subjective) that were wrong and my objective approach towards strength training (and physical training in general) keeping individual human physiology and anatomy at the core of my programming.
I spent a considerable amount of time answering all his questions and clarified all the confusion around training and the misleading information that wrongly forms the basis of one’s physical training program. This first elaborate discussion is what set the course for his successful lifting tenure. In the past Ebrahim never trained at any gym for more than 2 weeks, and here he is in his 6th month of our Barbell Lifts training program, surpassing the novice phase. What is the reason behind his successful 220 lb Squat PR you may ask? The answer is his open mind to learn, and his willingness to use scientific principles of training. As a trainee/client he gave me an opportunity to teach him what’s correct and what’s incorrect, and as a coach it was my responsibility to present to him objective data that supported my recommendations.
The process of strength training also involves managing and overcoming musculoskeletal limitations such as joint pain. Intelligently designed strength training program alleviates joint pain while simultaneously strengthening the joint. You get to kill two birds with one stone. Ebrahim’s limitations before the start of the our program were knee pain and lower back pain. This led to the second topic of our discussion: understand pain to overcome pain (title for my future article) with strength training as a medium. I began with giving as much research data related to pain as possible and informed Ebrahim about pain physiology (how pain works). I use this approach to bring about a sense of self-efficacy in my trainees. The aim is to remove fear that comes from ignorance of pain physiology (fear is largely the cause of chronic pain) and to give them all the resources needed for long term management of pain.
After understanding the pain model Ebrahim gained self-confidence to address his pain. We focused on not just the biological factors of pain but also the psychological and social factors that influence pain. The result of this approach? His knees and lower back have acquired strength that allows him to lift 100 kilos pain-free. That is the current status of his knees and lower back. Let me remind you once again that the same movement before he started training was painful even with just his body weight.
As I end this article I would like to suggest to the readers to give strength training a try. Strength training by far is the optimum training method to improve not just physical strength but also other physiological (and psychological) functions. However, make sure you go to a strength coach who is an educator, someone who simplifies the training process. Those interested in having a consult with me on strength training for pain or strength training in general, I’ll be glad to guide/coach you. If you think this information will help somebody, please do share it. Thank you for reading.