Physical strength is one of the primary attributes needed for a capable and purposeful body, not just in athletic endeavors, but for life in general.
Unfortunately, when we recognize this and work to build it it can lead to injury and/or burnout if we don’t take a mindful and conscientious approach.
This article focuses on one man who found a better way to fortify his body, with less stress, after some serious injuries threw him off course.
When Injury Strikes – How Ammar Learned (the hard way) the Importance of Strength
Ammar Rajab was always active, and participated in a variety of sports and martial arts throughout his life.
Unfortunately, Ammar had his world turned upside down when he sustained a serious injury – an ACL tear and damage to the cartilage in his knee – and it changed his relationship with fitness forever.
Injuries can throw anyone off course, but after a difficult surgery and recovery, Ammar was fearful of being active the way he had been, and with the exception of continuing to play soccer, he “stopped all kinds of movement and proper workouts” for nearly 10 years before another devastating injury – this time to his hip – convinced him he needed to build more strength to support and protect his body.
It took some time and several different approaches, but when Ammar finally found our Integral Strength program, it solved many of the problems he had faced:
“Integral Strength is a well designed program. It has a combination of strength and mobility and stretches, and it improved my core a lot, which helped me to be more stable. The program helped me [overcome the cycle of injury I was in] by preparing my body gradually (the joints, tendons, and ligaments, along with the nervous system and muscles) through strength, flexibility and motor control, and a gradual progression of difficulty and volume.”
Unfortunately, it did take quite a while and a lot of trial and error before Ammar found Integral Strength, and his journey to finding what worked for him is a familiar tale.
The Journey to Making Strength a Priority
When Ammar first decided to work on getting stronger, he did what many people do. He did some cursory research, and began training with a bodybuilding approach, which he stuck with for a couple of years before realizing it was not the approach that would really address his needs.
“I went on reading and doing bodybuilding for 2 years, and I felt like I was heavier, but unable to move better, and that there was something wrong going on here… I felt it wasn’t normal and natural to take all those supplements and to grow heavy, and my body just resisted that.”
It’s pretty common for people to get stuck in a routine of “typical” gym workouts, even if they don’t really fit their goals or needs.
Ammar was lucky enough to have a background in movement based training – as a kid, he had practiced several different martial arts, as well as gymnastics and soccer – so he knew there was more out there.
He missed the kind of running and jumping and free movement, so he started looking for answers, and found some resources online for calisthenics and parkour training.
Though this type of training had him moving the way he enjoyed, he was still dealing with multiple injuries and restrictions.
“This is when I started to research more about how to make a proper program that’s balanced and maintainable, and treats the body with harmony… not just pushing it blindly.”
Ammar eventually found GMB, went through Integral Strength, and was finally able to build the kind of strength and protection for his body that he was looking for.
How a Different Approach to Strength Training Changed Everything for Ammar
After dealing with years of injuries, surgeries, and other physical deficits, Ammar was looking for something better, and the practical approach taught in Integral Strength fit his needs.
“In many of the traditional programs they focus on strength training and resting – that’s it. No mobility, no stretching and no mindfulness of movement at all. And this is why people get injures, because of the poor programming. In contrast, Integral Strength is designed to enable you and make you strong, not just in your muscles, but also in your joints, tendons, ligaments, and nervous system.”
After years of an ill-matched training regimen, Ammar found it refreshing to use a method that emphasizes strengthening the body in a personalized, practical, and protective manner.
The Results of Dedicated Practice
Ammar worked diligently through Integral Strength, alongside Elements, which employed together, helped him resolve his structural weaknesses rather than reinforcing them.
Specifically, Ammar credits the work on L-Sit, Shrimp Squats, and Bridge Press-Ups covered in Integral Strength, with helping him strengthen his core and knees to create a stronger, more resilient body. Take a look at what Ammar achieved by working through Integral Strength:
Clearly, Ammar improved not just his strength, but also his movement quality, and that has helped him transform his body from a broken down car to a high performance vehicle.
“I don’t very much care if my biceps size increased. I care if I can move better, and IS makes you move better, prepares your body and gives you a strong base to start from.”
And that’s really what we emphasize with all our programs (not just Integral Strength) – it’s about preparing your body to be able to move the way you want and need it to, so you can do the things you want and need to do. The primary endpoint isn’t a better looking body -though that does happen- but one that supports your true priorities.
We all need that base from which we can move without pain or fear of injury.
What’s Next for Ammar? (This is what’s possible with a strong base…)
Once he built this strong and resilient platform, and no longer had to fear sustaining injuries over and over again, Ammar’s world opened up, and he set his sights on much loftier goals.
Currently, Ammar is going through our GMB Trainer Apprenticeship program so he can take what he learned on this journey and teach it to others.
He’s also planning on spending some time working on his handstand, so he can train for the Handstand Push-Up, and he plans to go through our Floor One program once he’s finished the rigorous Apprenticeship program.
Ammar’s experience shows the critical importance of finding the approach that works for you and will give YOU the protection you need. Even if you’ve dealt with injuries in the past (whether minor sprains, or more devastating injuries like Ammar’s), your story isn’t over.
Explore what will work best for you, and don’t give up.
Once you’ve been cleared by a doctor to get back to training, the key is to work on strength development that supports what you really need. This strength is then your foundation to do activities you want to do and do them well.
Build a Strong and Resilient Body
Over eight weeks, Integral Strength will help you build the kind of strength that carries over into demanding physical skills and dynamic sports.