Why Conventional Strength Training is Not Everything It’s Promised To Be

Written by Dr. Edythe Heus
RevInMo Founder – Los Angeles

Strength training commonly involves using progressively increasing weights to raise the force output of specific muscles or muscle groups. In these exercises, the goal is usually to break the muscles down to increase mass and strength.

Aside from the aesthetic benefits it brings, perceived gains in performance make strength training popular amongst fitness enthusiasts. This assumption makes sense on the surface. After all, athletic movements typically require a lot of force and power.

If you’re one of the people who have bought into the idea that strength training is a requirement for better performance, then you’re about to hear some bad news:

There is little to no evidence supporting this claim.

Let’s analyze why strength training may not be the best exercise regimen for those seeking to improve performance, and explore an alternative approach to strength.

Does Strength Training Translate to Overall Strength and Performance?

On the one hand, many clinical trials have found no significant effect on functional strength after using resistance training as an intervention. These studies conclude that isolated increases in muscle mass or strength are insufficient to produce meaningful improvements in overall strength and performance.

Biomechanical specificity is one reason muscle strength does not translate to overall strength. Typical strength training targets isolated muscle groups and does not mirror movement patterns we use for our daily activities.

On the other hand, a few studies have found significant strength gains after implementing resistance training. In these cases, researchers observed substantial rises in neuromuscular activation but minimal increases in muscle cross-sectional areas.

These results suggest that the gains from strength training are not brought about by increased muscle mass but by neural adaptation.

An Organization, Efficiency, and Resilience Perspective on Strength

Our fascia surrounds and connects every cell and muscle in the body. That’s why it is a surprise that most fitness enthusiasts and practitioners overlook the fascial system as an integral component when talking about strength.

Recent research has found the fascia to have significant implications on our strength, changing previous notions about this body system. Here’s how it contributes to our strength from three different points of view:

The Fascia as Communicator and Integrator

The fascia acts as an intermediary between our muscles and our brains. It constantly reports to our nervous system what is happening within its environment.

Thus, the neural connection that increases strength is mediated by our fascia. If the fascia is not working well, you will have compromised communication.

With the impaired transmission of information, you won’t be able to recruit the correct number of muscles for an action, ultimately reducing your strength.

The Fascia as a Facilitator of Movement

The fascia facilitates all movement in our body. It allows the muscles to stretch and contract and the joints to slide smoothly against each other, for example.

So, the fascia is essential for the efficient execution of movements that require strength and power.

Beyond body mechanics, research has also found fascia to enhance our cells’ waste disposal, oxygen consumption, and fluid dynamics—ultimately leading to more effective performance.

The Fascia as Kinetic Energy Store

In addition to being a messenger between our body systems, the fascia also acts as storage units for kinetic energy.

When in their optimal state, the collagen fibers in fascia appear wavy or crimped. The more crimped the fascia looks, the greater its capacity to store energy.

When the fascia is healthy, it can use this stored kinetic energy to support movements requiring more strength than the muscle has.

The stronger the fascia, the more resilient you are to carrying loads even your muscles are unable to bear on their own.

Fascial Training is Strength Training

Here at RevInMo, we believe that you do not have to break your body down to build it up. While strength training can present some benefits, it also comes with risks such as:

  • Muscle and joint damage
  • Spinal injuries
  • Bone fractures

And as we’ve earlier established, sheer muscle strength or mass is not enough to increase our strength overall.

Strength comes from organization, efficiency, and resiliency—all functions our fascia carries out for our entire body.

Thus, fascial training, which is at the core of what we do here at RevInMo, is strength training.

If you want to know more about how we can remodel your fascia to be organized, efficient, and resilient, check out our resources on the fascia. Once you’re ready to dive in, check out our virtual classes here: https://revinmo.com/virtual-classes/

Sources:

Bekos, M. C. (n.d.). Fascia – The ‘Newest’ System of the Body. Integrate Columbus. https://integratecolumbus.org/fascia/

Bond, M. M., Lloyd, R., Braun, R. A., & Eldridge, J. A. (2019). Measurement of Strength Gains Using a Fascial System Exercise Program. International journal of exercise science, 12(1), 825–838. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6719817/

Bordoni, B., Mahabadi, N., & Varacallo M. (2022, July 18). Anatomy, Fascia. National Library of Medicine National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493232/

Cherup, N. P., Buskard, A. N. L., Strand, K. L., Roberson, K. B., Michiels, E. R., Kuhn, J. E., … Signorile, J. F. (2019). Power vs strength training to improve muscular strength, power, balance and functional movement in individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Experimental Gerontology, 128, 110740. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.exger.2019.110740

Csapo, R., & Alegre, L. M. (2015). Effects of resistance training with moderate vs heavy loads on muscle mass and strength in the elderly: A meta-analysis. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 26(9), 995–1006. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.12536

Häkkinen, K., Alen, M., Kallinen, M., Newton, R. U., & Kraemer, W. J. (2000). Neuromuscular adaptation during prolonged strength training, detraining and re-strength-training in middle-aged and elderly people. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 83(1), 51–62.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s004210000248

Ives, J. C., & Shelley, G. A. (2003). Psychophysics in functional strength and power training: review and implementation framework. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 17(1), 177–186. https://doi.org/10.1519/1533-4287(2003)017

Schleip, R., & Müller, D. G. (2013). Training principles for fascial connective tissues: Scientific foundation and suggested practical applications. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 17(1), 103–115. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.06.007

Skelton, D. A., Young, A., Greig, C. A., & Malbut, K. E. (1995). Effects of Resistance Training on Strength, Power, and Selected Functional Abilities of Women Aged 75 and Older. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 43(10), 1081–1087. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1532-5415.1995.tb07004.x

Vikberg, S., Sörlén, N., Brandén, L., Johansson, J., Nordström, A., Hult, A., & Nordström, P. (2018). Effects of Resistance Training on Functional Strength and Muscle Mass in 70-Year-Old Individuals With Pre-sarcopenia: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 20(1), 28-34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jamda.2018.09.01

Wilke, J., Schleip, R., Yucesoy, C. A., & Banzer, W. (2018). Not merely a protective packing organ? A review of fascia and its force transmission capacity. Journal of Applied Physiology, 124(1), 234–244. https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.00565.2017

Explore Our Topics

Strength Training

Balance Training

Tactile Stimulation

Sensory Play

What Is Strength?

Daily Practice

Nutrition

Grip Health

Finding Home

Back Resiliency

Alumni Gatherings

Outdoor Adventure

Neurology

Sequencing

Understanding The Fascia

RevInMo Essentials

Feet Health

Pelvic Floor

Meditation