Strength vs physique: why is training for strength so much better than training for physique?
Physique= no pizza, no beer, no chocolate, no bacon
Strength= Pizza, beer, chocolate and bacon in moderation
Long answer because training for physique is a short lived accomplishment. What do you do when you get the body you want? Most people will revert back to their old ways of eating and doing things and re-gain the weight and then some.
If they do happen to keep the weight off it becomes a constant battle to keep life in perspective and in balance. I know I've been there. when I was 38 I trained and competed in a natural body building competition. I trained hard, dieted down to about 12% body fat. I looked great I felt great but my whole life was about training and diet.
If I had a social occasion I would stress about what I would be eating. If I had a cold or was worn down I would stress about not training. My life revolved around what I was eating, when I was eating, was I over training, under training. I was consumed by it all my mental and physical energy was eaten up by it. Any potential change in my daily routine would stress me out.
Don't get me wrong I'm glad I did it. I learned a lot about my body and what it takes to really transform, but I have been paying for it ever since in that for the last 10 years I have been comparing my body as it looks now with my competition body. A body that is impossible to maintain and keep a balanced life style.
Now I'm not saying that it can't be done. I'm sure there are plenty of women out there that can maintain an impressive physique while maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. All I'm saying was that I couldn't and it's taken me 10 years to figure that out and be ok with it.
YES it took me 10 years of trying to get that competition body back to make me realize it just isn't going to happen. Why? because I am a different person now. I am married to a wonderful husband, I have friends, not that I didn't back then, but my life is different and I've realized that there are more important things in life than obsessing about my macro nutrient breakdown, not eating pizza, beer, bacon and chocolate and my body fat percentage.
Enter my decision to train for strength:
This is me pulling 135lbs for set of 5 reps back in June.
Training for strength on the other hand is all about performance. Constantly trying to outdo myself in an effort to get stronger. It's about setting a goal for example pulling a 200lb deadlift, reaching it and then setting another goal. All though at some point I will reach the limit of my strength potential but honestly who knows where that may lie. Not only that but there a mini- goals built in. And unlike physique goals it's not subjective based on how I feel I look but on what I actually do.
As mentioned above, I've wanted to be able to pull a 200lb deadlift for like forever. Being just 5' tall and roughly 115lbs I figure a 200lb deadlift would be impressive and make me look like a bad ass in the gym.
The Avengers' Mrs. Peel. My childhood hero and my idea of a female bad ass
When I first started this project back in March, I was only able to pull 135lb deadlift for 1 rep. In June I was pulling the same weight for 5 reps. Today not only am I pulling 135lbs for sets of 5 reps BUT. DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!!! This is a HUGE milestone for me. 135lbs is now officially my first warm up set.
Let me state that again, 135lb is NO LONGER my heaviest set it is now my LIGHTEST set. My heaviest set is now 155lbs. In the last 6 months I've added a WHOPPING 20lbs to my deadlift.
With focusing on strength, I have gained better perspective and balance. I'm less concerned about the number on the bathroom scale. If I want to eat pizza and drink a beer I can. Don't get me wrong I still want to look good, it's not an excuse for me to sit back eat what ever and excuse it by saying I just want to get strong and I don't care about what I look like. All I'm saying is that by focusing on performance goals rather than how I look in my clothes or trying to get down to a certain dress size, I've freed up my brain from obsessing about everything I eat and do. In fact I am actually eating better because I'm not constantly thinking about it, OR if I am it's because I'm thinking is this going to help me get stronger.
I'm happier, less stressed and enjoy training even more as each day is an opportunity to improve.
If you find you are constantly frustrated trying to lose that last 5, 10 or 20lbs. Constantly obsessed with trying to achieve that "perfect" body. Maybe it's time to stop and refocus your goals? You may discover that training for strength is the Magic Bullet you have been looking for.