“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and generally more useful.”- Mark Rippetoe, Strength Coach.
While the above quote is a bit over the top, it highlights, what I believe to be, the single most important physical quality, strength. Now before anyone misunderstands what I am saying here, YES cardiovascular health is important. So are joint mobility, power, endurance, coordination and balance. What sets strength apart from the rest of them is that possessing it makes it easier to attain the rest of them. In fact, regardless of the physical goal you are trying to accomplish, getting stronger will make it easier. Want to get leaner (assuming your diet is in check)? Swinging a 30 or 40lb kettlebell will get you there faster than a 15lb kettlebell will. Want to get faster running your 5 or 10K? Developing more strength in your legs allows you to produce more force with each stride making you faster and more efficient. Maybe none of that matters to you. Maybe all you want to do is get on the ground and play with your grandchildren. Well, here’s a bit of news for you. Gravity will get you down there for free. It will take strength to get you back up again.
Now, don’t read this the wrong way. We are not saying you have to be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound or break world records in powerlifting. That said, having a functional level of strength will make the rest of your life easier. What’s a “functional level” of strength you ask? Well, that depends on the goal and your life in general. You don’t need to be a 500lb deadlifter to move a 50lb bag of mulch. But being able to repeatedly pick up 100lbs of dead weight would make that 50lb bag feel pretty easy.
Okay, so what do you do with this? Does it mean you need to give up your yoga classes, stop running or walk away from Zumba forever? Nope. Do what you enjoy doing because that’s what you will be consistent with. Just make sure that you have a couple of days of strength training in there as well. Focus your efforts on big, multi-joint lifts that cover a lot of muscle and use consistent progression. Do that and watch whatever physical goals you are chasing get closer and closer.