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Years ago I worked with a personal trainer who derailed every casual conversation about strength training with scientific mumbojumbo. His entire practice operated within this self-imposed scientific parameter.
Of course, the scientific method deserves respect. But the average person/client also deserves a better perspective on strength training than be inundated with meaningless scientific data.
A study on strength training observes very specific variables in very confined parameters, primarily that of the load used, the repetitions executed, the frequency of treatment, and all within a predetermined period.
These parameters often can’t be extrapolated to the real world, however. Resistance training in the real world is far more complex, especially as we deconstruct its relationship to Newton’s Second Law of Motion.
Force = mass x acceleration
Or, force is directly proportional to the rate of change in momentum, where momentum is the product of mass and velocity. Blah blah blah.
Strength training presents a series of forces applied to, and generated by, the tissues of the body. “Strength training” is thus “force training.”
What kind and how much force the body is accepting or generating is dictated by multiple factors:
- Changes in velocity (acceleration and deceleration)
- Changes in direction (angular momentum about various joints)
- Time it takes to complete a motion
- Distance of motion
- Attachment of musculo-tendonous complex
- Muscle or tendon length
- Attachment points on bone (forming different leverages)
- Fiber type and distribution
- Fiber angle
- Limb length and ratio
- Elasticity of muscle and tendon (storing and releasing of energy)
- Individual differences in neural patterns
- Compensatory muscular activation patterns
- Compensatory contribution from other muscle groups
In the real world, these factors add up to very different outcomes from one individual to another. Unfortunately, in the laboratory — in a controlled scientific study — these factors are ignored.
These are the significant factors that the pedantic, self-fluffing personal trainer forgets to mention to his client, mostly from a lack of their familiarity.
The point is, none of the scientific mumbojumbo (likely borrowed from a mere abstract) means much to the average person who wants to get fit, get healthy, and look good.
In fact, the scientific conclusion of the strength-training study means little to anyone if most of Newton’s Second Law of Motion is neglected.
These factors must be considered if the science lab wants to make strength training reproducible, accurate, and scientific, and for studies on strength training to be taken seriously.
Otherwise, for most of us who want to get healthy, fit, and look good naked, why not just keep exercise simple? Move around a lot. Lift heavy stuff. Move fast now and then. Get your heart rate up really high once in a while.