Strong, like a tree...

The other day I spoke to a friend and the topic of weightlifting came up.  He told me he wants to get stronger and wanted to focus on his upper body.  My response was he would limit his strength potential by not working on his lower body as well, particularly the posterior muscles.  Limiting your body’s potential for strength and growth to just one area actually does more harm than good.  I explained to him the importance of total body strength and how the body will overcompensate for weak muscles eventually leading to muscle imbalance, pain and injury.   

To put it into perspective I asked him to think of his body as a tree.  In order for a tree to grow it has to have a solid foundation in its roots, followed by a strong trunk where it can grow its branches.  Each part of the tree works together in tandem just like the human body.  For total body strength you need strong legs and glutes just like the roots of a tree, a strong core like its trunk and strong arms like branches.

Without strong legs as a foundation Mike Tyson wouldn’t have been so dominant.  His punching power was generated from his legs up through his core and into his hands.  Without strong legs Bruce Lee would not be able to strike his opponents with such force and velocity.  Without strong legs Lebron James wouldn’t be as dominant or explosive.  Think about it, almost every athlete has to have total body strength: specifically leg and glute power.  Whether you’re playing volleyball, baseball, football, soccer, tennis, basketball or just about any sport, you need a strong lower body to perform.   To dunk a basketball, power through a defensive line, or hit a home run, you need strength in the legs, glutes, core and arms.  One muscle group can’t do it alone.   

Start with the lower body.

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the human body. It is large and powerful because it has the job of keeping the trunk of the body in an upright posture. It is the chief antigravity muscle that aids in walking up stairs, standing from a seated position or bending over to pick up the groceries.  However, the gluteus maximus is one of the most underutilized muscles and as mentioned before, weak muscles can cause an imbalance leading to pain and discomfort in other areas where the body overcompensates, like the lower back.  Lower back pain is one of the most common body aches suffered by millions of people.  Exercises like dead lifts, squats, hip thrusts and Romanian dead lifts are excellent ways to build stronger glutes and legs and when done properly will also build your back, core, shoulders and arms. 

The strength and flexibility in your glutes and legs is the key to total body strength and fitness; without them, strength and athleticism is limited. Don’t limit your potential for strength; grow strong like a tree.

Derrick the trainer