Strength training works wonders for your body.  But it is only one pillar of fitness.  It needs to be balanced with flexibility and cardiovascular training.  

One of the problems of strength training has to do with the heart, because the heart is a muscle.  Over time, strength training thickens the walls of the heart and this causes the walls to stiffen. But if strength training is properly balanced with cardiovascular training will help to prevent this by making the walls of the heart more elastic.  

For most lifters and lovers of iron, cardio is the bane of our existence.  But it is a necessary part of any successful strength training program.  

No matter what kind of athlete you are, or what type of fitness you are into, your health remains the most important thing.  Without good health, all of your fitness pursuits will be in vain.  

Building The True Foundation

My father always told me something I will never forget.  He said “Anthony when you are buying a house, always check the foundation first.  Everything else can be fixed, or changed, unless the foundation is bad.”

It’s true.  No matter how pretty the top looks, the house will be ruined from the start if it has a bad foundation.  But if the foundation is good, then all is well.  

The same thing applies to your own body.  When you are training in the gym, or for an event, you need to make sure your health is in check.  If it is, then you can train for and possibly win anything.  

Heart Health

Unfortunately, for most, when tragedy strikes, it strikes hard and fast.  

You hear stories all the time of people dropping dead after exercising on a hot day after a jog.  Or people having a stroke during a lifting session.  It seems to come out of nowhere, but if you know what you are looking for, you can spot problems before they arise.  

Spotting A Problem

One of the most tell tale signs that your health may need improvement is if you are sucking wind during your exercises.  If you do a set of dumbbell rows, for instance, and you start to really breath heavy after you finish your set, then you definitely need to work on your health.  

Another tell tale sign is by checking your heart rate.  

Heart Rate

During exercise, your heart rate should be in a rhythm no matter how fast it is beating.  If it is beating very fast and erratically, then this is a very dangerous sign of congestion in the heart.  It might be that the walls of the heart are too thick.  

But sometimes this can be caused by your breathing as well.  If you are not breathing properly between reps, then your heart’s rhythm will be off.  Usually once you start breathing correctly, your rhythm will return to normal.  

Chest Pains (Angina)

But you also should watch out for pain and numbness in your chest and arms.  Sometimes, you can pull a muscle and the pain will radiate down the arms, but that is not the pain that I am talking about.  I am talking abut deep internal chest pains that will not go away or are getting worse.

Feeling Faint

If you start seeing spots during your workout for no apparent reason, or under no strain, then you probably have a problem with your body’s circulation.   

If that is the case, then this could indicate that your heart is not pumping blood properly to areas of your body that currently need it.  

This happens sometimes to experienced lifters who overexert themselves during a set.  For these guys, it is probably nothing to worry about.  Wait until after your set and see if it goes down naturally on it’s own.  If it does then you should be good.  

I could go on and on, but I don’t want to scare anybody or make anybody paranoid.  Most of you know your bodies and you are well aware if something feels sketchy.  

There are an endless number of things that can go wrong during a workout.  Most problems will be muscular-tendon injuries from bad form or from excessive caution.  

To fix most of the problems, you need to fix your form and check your ego.  But for the other problems mentioned above, you will need to start making some changes to your workout programs.  

Small Changes, Big Results

Start With Some Conditioning

Biking

The first major thing you should do is start training your heart and lungs, aka “cardio”.  

I can already hear the sighs, but just hear me out!  There are many different types of “cardio” , or conditioning.  You don’t just have to run.  Running is great and all, but it is not everybody’s favorite thing to do.  

If that is the case, you can do the following:

  • Sled Dragging
  • Sandbag Work
  • Kettlebell Work
  • Jump Rope
  • Boxing/Martial Arts
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • Biking 

I could keep going but I think you have the idea.  There are a bunch of different things you can do for conditioning.  So hating to run is not an excuse.  

Kettlebell Conditioning

Start by adding at least 30 minutes worth of conditioning at least 2-3 days per week.  

Don’t Forget Nutrition!

Nutrition is SO important for your health.  I could literally write an entire article just on that topic alone.  

Whatever you put into your body will eventually become a new cell in your body.  So the saying “crap in, crap out” really is gospel.  Point being: you need to eat right!

This means eating clean foods and foods that will help you recover while building muscle mass.  

I have already written an article on good diet programs for lifters so be sure to check it out.  Also be sure to read my supplements article for more information on which supplements to take.  

Conclusion

Start making these small changes today and watch your core fitness base grow deeper and stronger.  

You will have a foundation strong enough to get you through any category storm that life can throw at you.  

After all, life is going to throw some punches your way whether you are an athlete or not.  So you might as well fortify your body and your psyche so you can prevent a disaster before one strikes.  

If you liked this article, please be sure to share it with someone who could use this information.  Help Barbell Scholar spread it’s message of Common Sense Training.  Not only would it make my day, but it would make my whole month 🙂 Thanks!

Cheers,

-Anthony          


Tony G
Tony G

Anthony is a fan of all things gym related. Growing up very overweight and out of shape, Anthony whipped himself into shape and stunned his entire community becoming a "fitness guru". Tony then set his sights on strength sports (Weightlifting/Powerlifting/Strongman) and learned all about body mechanics, mobility work and injury prevention. Tony found his true love in the strength sports, particularly Olympic Weightlifting. He earned a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree from Fitchburg State University in Exercise and Sports Science. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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