Why Is My Strength Coach Telling Me To Lift Less Weight — Part III

Annie at the 2012 CF Games
Power starts with position. Annie Sakamoto at the 2011 CrossFit Games (see more)

In the first and second part of this series, way back on January, we talked about four pillars that comprise your foundation for strength training which, by no coincidence, match our training philosophy (in parenthesis).

  1. Mobility, from the ground up (position)
  2. Technique or motor control (movement)
  3. Hormonal happiness (strength)
  4. Experience (power)

If any or all of these are under-developed, reduce the weight on your lifts and take the time to build all four pillars of your foundation. What I didn’t cover in the first article is why reducing weight is the conclusion. It would be realistic to think that many people would conclude either stay with the existing weight or increase but don’t reduce the weight with the same evidence. We, at MDSoF, believe reducing weight is the best solution for the following reasons (besides the most obvious which is nothing breeds success like success):

Athletes who’s strength training foundation is unbalanced are more prone to injury
Our vision is to help create a healthier world and the first step of that process is to not injure the athletes that are in our care. Another way of looking at this is that if an athlete’s training maturity is not up to the demands an athlete makes on his/her body there is a higher risk of injury. Take the time to build a super strong foundation, then pile on the weight.

Functional strength is more important than absolute strength
We love strength training, and athletic preparation in general, but there are very few of us who want fitness for the sake of fitness. Most of us are training for something, whether it be longevity, running, soccer, bike racing, fat loss, triathlon or any number of other activities. We don’t really care how much weight we lift, we only care that the time in the gym transfers to a functional activity out of the gym. Functional strength starts with ability to be in strong positions and then move in and out of those positions efficiently and quickly (see picture above).

Building functional strength leads to strength in other areas
Physical preparation is only one part of creating successful and powerful master athletes. Yes, it takes time and, yes, that means starting over from the beginning sometimes. Taking the time to develop functional strength and a balanced foundation for strength training has value in and of itself aside from being safe and more effective. Learning to prepare properly will build skills like patience, discipline, perseverance, self-confidence and compassion that all successful master athletes use, and most importantly, share.

One last thing, in the first article, I didn’t use numbers to list the four pillars because I thought that implied order too much; i.e. a foundation doesn’t have a pillar that is more important than the other pillars. However, in the past year, and I think I can speak for all the coaches here, we have come to realize that the order I have listed these pillars is the priority that you should work on to build functional strength as safely and quickly as possible.

Stay tuned for more on technique on our next post.