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  • Writer's pictureNate Johnson

The 4 Categories of Strength and Fitness

“80%+ of the people we work with start in this category and I’m here to tell you this is totally normal! The nice thing is you’ll get stronger AND in better shape at the same time so we can move you from this category into the ideal category.”

“Zach, most people fall into this category over here. Which is totally cool because we’re here to help those people! But the fact that you’re in this category over here means you’re going to be able to progress faster than your average person coming in off the street.”

“You are very strong! But we need to improve your endurance so you can continue to make great progress and prevent injury.”

“Congrats! You’re officially strong and in great shape! Of course this isn’t the end. There’s plenty of room for improvement right here. But you should take some time and appreciate all your hard work paying off!”

These are conversations I’ve had with clients about each of the 4 categories of Strength and Fitness.

I want to break down WHAT the 4 Categories are, the things you need to be concerned about in each category, and the things you should focus on depending on the category you’re in.

Before I tell you the categories let me start by saying this is all relative. Specifically it’s relative to each individual’s potential for strength and endurance.

An individual’s potential for strength and endurance is determined by a lot of factors but the main 2 are genetics and age.

Someone who has a ton of strength and endurance potential may be able to squat 95 pounds currently and be considered weak. Relatively that is. Because they may be capable of squatting 500 pounds.

At the same time, someone else who can squat 95 pounds may be considered strong. Because they’re approaching their potential for strength and endurance.

Not only are these categories relative, but they're also not an exact science.

BUT, if you’re ok with generalizations, these 4 categories are a VERY useful tool to gauge where you are in terms of your fitness AND it’s a great tool to know what you should be focusing on.

Now let’s dive in! (scroll down or just watch the video below)

The 4 Categories:

1. Weak and Out of Shape

2. Weak and in Good Shape

3. Strong and Out of Shape

4. Strong and in Good Shape

Weak and Out of Shape

This is the most common category for both our incoming clients as well as the general population.

People in this category live mostly or very sedentary lives. At best they do sporadic exercise, some do some occasional light walking, but most are not doing any consistent exercise.

The lack of almost any meaningful activity leads to weak muscles and being out of shape aerobically.

80%+ of our clients are starting off in this category. Most people that are strong and in good shape had to start their fitness journey here. So there’s no shame here!

It’s only a shame if you don’t find out what you can become.

Because while the downside of being in this category is that…well…you’re weak and out of shape...

The upside is that you have tons of potential for huge improvements! Plus, a simple plan done consistently for 12 months will work really, really well.

You can do as little as 2 days per week of Strength Training (30 minute workouts) and walking 6-10k steps per day.

If you're in this category you need to focus on showing up, putting in consistent work, and you will quickly move out of this category.

The only thing you need to be concerned about is not taking action and staying in this category for life. There’s nothing wrong with being in this category today. Nothing at all!

But there IS something wrong about being in this category 1 year from now if you have the potential to make a change today. Don’t waste anymore time. Go go go!

(And if you want to start a program designed specifically for people in this category, CLICK HERE and fill out the form. I’ll contact you within 24 hours to see if we’re a good fit to work together.)

Weak and in Good Shape

This is the second most common category people fall into.

They consistently live at least a lightly active life, and sometimes they live a moderately or even very active life.

In addition to not being at least lightly active throughout their day, they do at least 2 days per week of consistent exercise. Many of them exercise daily!

People in this activity range from simply walking consistently every day all the way up to marathon runners and everything in between.

I use running as an example but many of these people are cyclists, hikers, swimmers, etc.

Regardless of their method of exercise, they choose to exercise consistently!

But their exercise routine is focused largely (or completely) on cardio.

These people can go go go for a long time. Which is fantastic! But they’re lacking in the strength department.

One issue to watch out for in this category is if you stay in this category without building your strength you will be more prone to injuries. Especially overuse injuries from whichever form of cardio you enjoy.

I would never tell someone in this category to stop the activity they love. Plus the cardio is great for their health!

But I would highly recommend they add a minimum of 2 Strength Training workouts per week for 30-45 minutes.

After 12 months of making this small 1-1.5 hour investment every week, you will see a massive improvement in strength, muscle mass, muscle definition (looking toned!), and your body composiiton (you'll look leaner!) You'll also see a significant improvement in your running, swimming, etc.

The beautiful thing about this category, is that by starting from already being in great shape, you will be able to recover from a lot more Strength Training work than people in Category 1. Which means you’ll make faster progress!

If you're in this category, taking 1 year to focus on building strength will do wonders for you! And you never have to give up cardio. Just add in the Strength Training and you’re good to go!

Strong and Out of Shape

This is the least common category. It’s not one we see often. However, there are some very real concerns about being in this category. (I’ve been in all 4 categories at various times in my life so I’m speaking from experience.)

People in this category usually have a pretty serious strength training background but they haven’t been in the gym in many months or even years.

I’ve found that when you take time off from the gym, you retain strength much better than endurance.

Being strong is great and helps out in a lot of areas of life. BUT being strong while being out of shape isn’t fun. You may be able to lift stuff, move stuff, and carry stuff….but you’ll get tired way too quickly.

And what’s interesting about this, is you may find yourself getting tired MORE QUICKLY than people in category 1.

Why? Because of your strength, you’re able to do more work thus create more fatigue in a short amount of time.

And THAT is the big concern in this category.

The ability to do hard work and create a lot of fatigue (strength) but not being able to recover well from the workouts (being out of shape) is a recipe for injury or burnout.

You want to get out of this category as quickly as possible BUT you want to do that by doing 2 strength training workouts that last only about 30 minutes each. And you’ll aim to get 60-120 minutes of Zone 2 Cardio per week until you’re in much better aerobic shape!

A cool thing about being in this category is aerobic changes (getting in shape) happens faster than building strength. You've already done the hard work of building strength so getting to the Strong and in Good Shape category should only take 3-6 Months!

Strong and in Good Shape

THIS is where we want to be! This is the goal.

At a minimum people in this category are Strength Training 2 days per week and they’re living an active life.

The nice thing about this category is it’s truly not that difficult to get here. With 12 months of focused effort you can get to this category and reap all the benefits.

It’s a huge category. You can aim to hit the minimum strength/being in good shape and live a really great life. You’ll continue to get stronger and in better shape with only a few hours per week dedicated to these activities. And odds are you’ll really enjoy them!

And by having a good base level of strength and endurance, you have the ability to explore different methods of training/different goals.

You can focus on getting as strong as possible. You can do it just for the fun of it or you can start competing in Powerlifting or Weightlifting.

You can focus on building the physique you’ve always wanted. You can do it just for the fun of it or you can compete in a figure/bodybuilding competition.

You can focus on getting in as good of shape as possible. You can do it just for the fun of it or you can compete in 5ks, 10ks, marathons, triathlons, etc.

You can take your strength and fitness and start playing in sports leagues.

You can travel more and explore more of the world.

Being strong and in shape opens up a world of possibilities. You will no longer feel your body is holding you back. You won’t wonder if your body will do what you want it to.

And the best part is you can maintain it with very little effort AND you can explore one or more of the options listed above (or anything else you can dream up) at different times.

One thing is for sure. Being strong and in good shape is infinitely better than being weak and out of shape, strong and out of shape, or weak and in good shape.

I’ll leave you with 2 questions:

If you aren’t currently strong and in good shape, when are you going to CLICK HERE and fill out the form so we can schedule a call to see if we’re a good fit to work together?

If you’re currently strong and in shape, what’s next for you? What are you going to do? Are you simply going to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, or are you going to explore a new activity?

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