This question, and others like it, are something I am asked on a regular basis. How strong is strong enough? Eventually, won’t we just not be able to lift ANY heavier weight? When does age catch up with us and we actually start getting weaker?
This is an incredibly difficult question to answer. Each person has their own past and future that will relate to further progress or stagnation and decline. Each person has their own internal clock that can be manipulated but not changed outright.
Are we fit if we run 10k in 40 minutes? Are we fit if we lift 600 lbs with our bare hands? Are we fit if we run 10k in 50 minutes AND lift 400 lbs with our bare hands?
CrossFit methodology says the latter statement is true. Our ability to be above average at multiple tasks, but great at nothing determines our fitness. This means the likelihood of succeeding in some random physically demanding task is greater. If we can run 10k in 40 minutes but can only lift 150 pounds, our friend may fall when they’re running with us and we wouldn’t be able to carry them to safety. If we can lift 600 poundsbut move like a snail and our child happens to start crossing the street with oncoming traffic we’ll never save our own child.
There IS a breaking point in training. We eventually get so strong that only a focus on strength and avoidance of conditioning will make us stronger. Eventually we will be able to run so far that only focusing on running further/faster and avoiding strength will allow us to do so. However, avoiding a weakness to build a strength is where I believe physical health suffers. Instead, I think we should look at all directions of the spectrum and look to maximize them. We may find that our strength is a little lacking and work through a period to build it up. We may then find that our strength has risen but our conditioning fallen, so we may then focus on it. Spending life working on weaknesses is an incredible character builder.
I don’t believe numbers can even define our fitness. I believe it is our APPROACH to those numbers, our social relation to those numbers, our mental construct of what those numbers mean to us that truly defines our fitness and determines our health. I see people get 100# deadlifts who walk away ELATED that they’ve come so far!!! They’re proud of their own consistency and progress and fill themselves and others around them with inspiration. I also see people who lift 300# who walk away dejected because they thought they should do 310#. They beat themselves up for not making faster progress and can even make the person who lifted 100# earlier feel bad about only lifting that much.
Fitness has nothing to do with specific numbers. As we age, if we had a high enough number at some point it may begin to fall. Still others will continue to grow in many areas as they are a long way from their genetic potential. Keep in mind that there are a LOT of numbers and a LOT of goals and PLENTY of things to keep yourself motivated.
At some point, there is a perfect balance between enjoying what you do and striving for more. When you find that point and are filled with self-respect and self-love, you will inspire others to find the same balance. I believe this is our social fitness; our fitness for COMMUNITY will be high and that is what matters.
-Post thoughts to comments.