In the year 480 BC King Leonidas led a small force of Spartan warriors and Greek allies to the Hot Gates at Thermopylae where they stood and fought against the infinite hordes of the invading Persian army.
What ensued has gone down in history as a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. On paper the fight was a total mismatch yet the Spartans used the surrounding terrain as a force multiplier to funnel the Persian forces into a narrow corridor where their numbers counted for nothing. For three days the Spartans used their superior military prowess to slow the Persian advance and inflict terrible casualties on their increasingly morale-drained enemy.
A force multiplier refers to something which dramatically increases the effectiveness of an item or group.
The use of force multipliers has a long history within a military context. The Spartans used the geography of Greece, medieval armies used the fearsome longbow, modern forces make use of satellite communications and surveillance. However the concept has practical uses in our own lives too and the realm of health and fitness is no exception.
Sleep - As I mention many times on this blog sleep makes everything better and could be considered the ultimate force multiplier within a health and fitness context. With good sleep we suffer less hunger cravings, make better food choices, enjoy better energy, perform to a higher level both physically and mentally, recover more effectively from our workouts and the list could go on.
Compound exercises - Multi-joint movements like squats, push ups and pull ups target a greater % of muscle mass per repetition performed. Building our resistance training around these exercises allows us to get more done in less time during our workouts.
Whole foods - Eating a greater proportion of minimally processed plant and animal foods typically means we can eat larger volumes of food whilst obtaining more nutrition and fewer calories. A triple win for weight loss!
Joint health - By proactively taking care of our joints through deliberate mobility work and sensible exercise choices we can retain the freedom to move, play and workout. In turn this allows us to stay fit, strong and capable. Lose joint health and our physical activity levels can quickly start to unravel... a lesson I have learnt the hard way.
So how can you use force multipliers to increase the effectiveness of your fitness efforts?