Vail Daily column: Build a stronger body |

Vail Daily column: Build a stronger body

The first practical step before attempting your fitness journey is a goal assessment. If you don’t know what result you’re after, then how do you expect to put the pieces together to deliver an outcome? The strategies to reach your fitness potential are numerous, and the postulations about how to best acquire specific outcomes are varied and often conflicting. Let’s explore the starting point, regardless of your ultimate goal.

“Strength is the foundation for developing the rest of physical qualities. To reach high levels of power, endurance, sport skill and fat loss you must become strong first, period.” Professor Leonid Matveev contends that strength is the foundation for developing the rest of the physical qualities for good, common sense reasons. Strength is the most general of the physical qualities. Improving strength also improves muscular endurance, power, and aerobic capacity. However, improving muscular endurance does not improve strength; improving muscular endurance actually hinders maximum muscular strength development. Here’s what you really need to know.

Ability to Overcome

Recently, the topic of strength acquisition and its efficacy in a fitness regimen has been scrutinized with a magnifying glass. Too many fitness professionals are propagating other qualities such as core strength, aerobic fitness, muscular endurance or corrective exercises in exchange for authentic strength training. A definition of strength is utmost here — strength is the productive application of force. Strength, is the physical ability to overcome external objects such as weights, your own bodyweight or a couch. Someone who can lift a 200 pound rock is more productive at displaying their strength, than someone who can merely lift a 25 pound rock.

Strength application is practical for the fitness enthusiast for one simple reason — the greater your strength development, the lower your effort becomes during less than maximal efforts. For example, let’s assume that I can lift 200 pounds one time, and you can only lift 100 pounds one time. I am twice as strong as you are. Hypothetically, you and I are tasked to move several hundred hay bales weighing 50 pounds each, onto a truck bed to be hauled away. Every time you lift a bale, you are performing at 50 percent of your maximum output; I am performing at 25 percent of my maximum output for the same workload. All else being equal, who will fatigue faster? Lifting hay bales, walking around the park and riding your bike up Vail Pass are all endurance events. Muscular endurance is simply the application of muscular force repeated over and over again for time or distance. So why wouldn’t you develop a reasonable level of muscular force before engaging in events requiring muscular endurance?

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Paramount Quality

We have become infatuated with the idea that leanness, aerobic fitness and marathon times are equated to fitness and longevity. Wellness is the absence of disease, and fitness is the ability to perform a task successfully. All physical tasks require the exploitation of strength, so why do we avoid training this quality as it is paramount to developing any type of fitness?

It’s a matter of definition. Most casual lifters will choose a higher repetition range, and because they are lifting weights, they will assume they are strength training. Strength adaptations don’t occur however, unless the weight is heavy enough to drive an adaptation. To acquire strength, you must use a load that allows for one to five repetitions. Using a load that allows for more than five repetitions is something, but it isn’t strength training.

I have discussed this topic many times before because of the importance of this message. I encourage you to consider reducing the repetitions, and increasing the load lifted. Especially if you enjoy endurance activities — your body will thank you as a stronger body will perform more efficiently during long distance activities. Have a great week.

Ryan Richards has a B.S. from Ohio University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the personal trainer at the Sonnenalp Golf Club and the owner of R2HP, an athlete consulting and personal training company. Richards’ passion comes from overcoming childhood obesity and a T1-L3 spinal fusion. Contact him at or 970-401-0720.

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