This week my wife and I had a conversation about strength training. You would think she would be sick of me at this point, but thankfully she’s still hanging in there.
We got on the topic because her mom has been doing regular morning walks around the neighborhood with her friend. Not setting any world records, but it’s the perfect first step on the road to better fitness for someone who’s been relatively inactive for much of their life.
We are incredibly proud and hope she keeps it going as the weather turns cold. But we also know that while it’s a good start, the path to better fitness requires more than a leisurely stroll each morning.
Specifically, there are enormous gains for lifespan and health span by adding strength training to the routine, but that’s a much more significant barrier to entry.
Logistics, motivation, and intimidation factors make it hard to head down that path, so here’s my proposition for getting someone to pick up the iron for the first time.
The Fear Factor
The fitness industry has done a good job of scaring people into submission. Many fear that lifting weights the “wrong way” will only hurt you and should not be done.
But I believe what’s riskier than lifting weights “incorrectly” is not lifting them at all. So the first step is to rewrite the narrative that lifting weights is no different than lifting anything else in your day-to-day life.
The 20lb dumbbell has no different property than the 20lb suitcase to cause injury. The difference is that lifting the dumbbell gives us control of the environment, sets, and reps, so it’s actually less prone to hurting someone than the natural weightlifting seen in the real world.
I think the perfect weight training entry is with a skilled trainer.
It eliminates the confusion about progression and exercise selection and helps keep people accountable. But it’s also impractical to many due to the costs, time constraints, and it can be intimidating.
Is there a more perfect solution for someone who has never lifted a weight and is motivated to take that step than a daily program of movements that work on joint stability and active range of motion from the comfort of one’s home?
So our Nana will be getting Crossover Symmetry for Christmas to make that next step to weight training.
Even though she has no (known) shoulder issues, it will walk her through a daily session to progress her through the programs included within the system.
Paired withHip & Core Activationand her daily walking, that’s a phenomenal program for anyone who wants to take care of their body for a lifetime of activity.
With the above, I believe we’ve built a solid base for the pyramid. However, I still think the body needs heavier loading to improve capacity and gain full health benefits.
I know within my program, I would start by teaching the deadlift.
But not only is it hard to wrap a barbell with plates, but for someone who has never lifted a weight, loading up a bar is a big first step.
Instead, I would have them pick up a kettlebell.
It feels and looks more natural as if you’re picking up a bag of books. It can also be swung and carried, the subsequent two movements in my Gains for Granny® program.
Then practice pushing oneself off the floor—I believe some call that a push-up—and now this program is full body with only a single piece of eqiupment.
Don’t worry about weight at first, only that it gets done.
To add challenge, increase the reps, slow the tempo, and decrease the rest between exercises.
With a few months of Crossover Symmetry, playing with a kettlebell, regular walking, and hopefully some nutrition swaps for lower-calorie foods, I believe that person will be well on their way and past the beginner stages and ready for more advanced weight training.
Remember, it’s small daily gains that lead to massive changes.