Monica Brant is one of the most prolific faces in fitness. She’s been on hundreds of health and fitness magazine covers, won Joe Weiders Ms Fitness Olympia in 1998, won so many titles in fitness that I wouldn’t even know where to start, retired in 2013 after winning the WBFF World Pro Championship figure contest twice, is a published author, a speaker and runs her ever popular F.E.M. camp all over the world.
- She’s also a masters 400 meter world class sprinter – she placed 3rd in the 2012 London Olympic 400 meter trials. She led the pack until the last 90 meters when the 400 meter world champion and outdoor national 400 meter champion placed 1st and 2nd.
- She’s due to continue her push to the top in this masters event having recently finished in the top 3 in all the events where she competed, in 2013 WMA Outdoor Championships (Porto Alegre, Brazil), where she competed in the Women’s 100m(2nd place), 200m(3rd place), 400m(3rd place), 4x100m relay(1st place) and 4x400m relay(1st place).
- I’ve worked with Monica since 2007 on various fitness related projects and as part of former Austin Mayor Will Wynn’s Fitness Council.
Monica has been following a strength and conditioning program since she was a teenager. She ran track on her high school track team. She lifts weights 3-4 times a week. She eats a healthy diet and makes sure to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Strength and conditioning is not only beneficial to amazing athletes like Monica but strength training can be beneficial for all age groups for all people in all walks of life. It is a great form of exercise that can really improve quality of life and help fight off disease and injury.
A lot of the health benefits you get from exercise in general can be derived through strength training. It decreases risk of cardiovascular disease and increases insulin sensitivity to name a few.
Strength training can be really beneficial to mental health. It is a good stress reliever. Throwing some metal around is a great way to unwind after a hard day at the office.
Strength training has great benefits on the musculoskeletal system and can help treat and prevent back pain, knee, ankle and shoulder problems. Strengthening the muscles around a joint can help take the strain off joints. The knee is a great example, by strengthening quadriceps and hamstring muscles you are taking some of the load off the joint.
Strength Training for the Elderly
Strength training is a great form of exercise for an elderly population. Falls are a big issue in the elderly, and a fractured pelvis can have a shocking effect on an elderly person’s life. Strength training is beneficial in helping to prevent falls. The stronger you are, the more easily you can catch yourself if you are off balance. Strength training also increases bone density, which means if you have a fall you are less likely to break a bone.
Strength training can involve unilateral exercises. These are basically exercises done on 1 leg, such as lunges, single leg squats, standing hip extension and abduction. By standing on one leg you are challenging balance. Maintaining your balance as you age is a big part of preventing falls.
Strength Training for Athletes
Virtually all sports have some dependence on maximal strength. It underpins performance in almost every sport. Sports such as football and rugby have an obvious need for a high level of maximal strength, but all sports from tennis to baseball rely on it to help improve performance.
Athletes use a variety of methods in strength training. Machine weights, free weights, dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, resistance bands are all available and useful tools in helping developing strength.
Strength training can not only enhance athletic performance, it can also help prevent injury. Most sports involve large amounts of force being produced and also absorbed by the body. Strength training can prepare ligaments, muscles and tendons to cope this high level of force experienced during sport.
A good strength training program also ensures that proper balance is maintained between muscle groups. Correct balance between opposing muscle groups ensures good posture, which leads to efficient movement, as well as helping prevent injury.
Monica Brant continues to take care of herself, getting stronger and faster as she approaches 50 years old, you can bet that strength and conditioning will be the centerpiece of her exercise routine.
Here’s a track workout that I shot with Monica Brant and Coach Maurice Harris for Austin Fit Magazine a few years ago!
And here’s a video from when I trained Monica at my Cedar Park, Texas bootcamp, FullForceFitness