5 Health Metrics That Are More Important Than Weight
For some strange reason American’s have chosen the scale as their favorite way to track progress around their health. People derive their sense of self worth based on the number facing up at them from between their feet. If you’re someone who draws any sort of emotional reaction, positive or negative, from the scale then you may want to self reflect and consider if there are better options out there.
The funny part is that weight is such an inconsequential and ambiguous predictor of substance. Just consider this. If you have three avocados-one freshly picked and hard as a rock, one brown soft and ooze, and one firm ripe and tender-which one are you going to slice open to make your guacamole with? It shouldn’t matter if they all weigh 170 grams right…
What you are made of, how you feel, and what you are able to produce are all factors of way greater significance than your weight.
What you weigh is going to constantly fluctuate. You may lose weight and be less healthy. You may be well hydrated one day and performing well then get totally thrown off because your weight went up a pound or two. This number doesn’t say who you are as a person or how healthy and fit you may be. It’s just an arbitrary number. Stop letting the pounds run your life and change the way you feel about yourself. Instead try one of these alternative ways that measure success off the scale!
Body Fat Percentage
Body fat percentage is an alternative way to track your progress and provides much more actionable information than just your weight in pounds. This takes into account your lean muscle mass. In this way you can actually gain weight in muscle which would consequently reduce your percentage of body fat. This is a clear example of how gaining weight would make you healthier. Plus as you add more muscle to your frame you will burn more calories at rest. The fat will disappear faster and faster on it’s own!
Taking specific measurements is a great way to achieve the goals around the way you want to look. Measuring neck, arm, waist, hips, thigh, and calf circumference can help you transform your body without ever worrying about the scale. Losing two inches off your waist will make you look and feel like a whole new person!
One of the best replacements for weighing yourself is to instead track daily health habits. If you track metrics like sleep, hydration, servings of veggies, daily walking, and other relevant habits you can focus on the right behaviors to make you look and feel great in the long run. This takes discipline but it is essential to long lasting transformation.
Switching your focus to the weight on the bar is a great alternative to the scale. People will often train harder and longer in pursuit of strength and performance goals than solely for aesthetic purposes. If you push yourself more in training the results will speak for themselves!
Squat versus Deadlift
Which lower body movement is “King of the Lifts”?
The squat and deadlift are the two staple movements of a lower body training program. The squat and hip hinge are also two fundamental human movement patterns and are important for normal daily function. They also require a large percentage of muscle recruitment making them essential for developing muscle mass as well as increasing neurological capacity and hormonal output.
The squat and deadlift are also both elegantly simple in theory yet technically complex in application which can make them intimidating for new lifters. The human body is capable of moving tremendous loads with these movements and to stay safe you must master the basics. After all, strength training should always be performed with the proper coaching, equipment, and environment to keep you safe as an athlete.
When it comes to strength training many athletes tend to prefer one lift over the other. There are many reasons for this. Comfort. Body type. Skill level. To name a few. Some people may have stayed away from performing either the squat or the deadlift from a negative past experience or injury.
Let’s take a look at:
- Who should be training squats and/or deadlifts,
- The benefits and muscle groups worked, and…
- The Volume and Intensity you should be using.
General Population versus Athletes
If you are a recreational athlete or utilizing strength training to stay healthy and fit then it is essential that you learn the basics of squatting and deadlifting. After all the ability to squat and hinge are components of everyday life. The human body is an adaptation machine and responds to the demands that are placed upon it. When we spend a lot of time sitting in chairs instead of moving We begin to lose these human movement standards. Don’t worry, the gym is the perfect place to bring them back. When you first learn these lifts make sure to work with an experienced coach who can give you the visual, audible, and tactile cues to perform these lifts.
Athletes also need to hinge and squat to develop explosive power, muscle stiffness, and joint stability for their sport. They may prioritize either the squat, deadlift, or a derivative like the trap bar deadlift based on the demands of the sport on their muscles. Working with a strength coach on sport specific training will be key to choosing the right lifting program for you.
Benefits and Muscle Groups Worked
The ability to perform a basic body weight squat should be the first goal of a training program. The squat requires mobility of the ankles, knees, hips, and spine as well as the motor recruitment patterns to properly extend at the knee hip and ankle simultaneously. The primary muscles worked are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Depending on the squat variation being used as well as the depth and other variables you can increase or decrease specific muscle activation. Low bar back squats and box squats achieve greater posterior chain activation. Front squats and overhead squats require a more upright torso and are quad dominant.
The deadlift is the most effective exercise for working the posterior chain. The posterior chain is essential for developing strength and power as an athlete. Powerful hamstrings and glutes will make you run faster, jump higher, and lift more weight. The muscles of the back also benefit from deadlifting due to the powerful isometric contraction required to maintain a neutral spine during heavy pulls. The rear delts, lats, and erector spinae all will grow as a result of deadlifting.
Volume versus Intensity
As a general rule of thumb strength training programs should have an inverse relationship between volume and intensity. Since squats and deadlifts are both total body lifts that require intense focus and neural activation it is important to vary loading patterns, volume, and intensity.
Deadlifts tend to be great for intensity but can be problematic in large volume. One fix for this is to train the hinge movement pattern with other implements that remove the need for heavy loading. Kettlebell Swings, Romanian Deadlifts, and Glute Bridges all train this movement pattern and are great.
Squats on the other hand seem to respond better to higher training volume. With that said you can still grind yourself down with too much high intensity work in the rack. Sticking to Prilepin’s chart for percentages is a great way to stay on top of loading parameters to ensure progress without burning out!
There you have it. A breakdown of the squat and deadlift as well as the reasons you should train them. If you’re looking for help learning these movements and building a movement practice to change your body or get stronger we have a team of coaches who can help you reach your goals.