Saturday, November 17, 2007

Too Strong Too Fast?

You don't need me to tell you that we live in a world that craves and demands rapid results. We're all about short-term gratification and we often lack the ability to see the bigger picture of what detrimental things our desires could do to us. Strength training is no different. We demand to see rapid results in strength gains in the shortest period of time possible. Unfortunately, this can result in some serious problems down the road.

I will give this to weight training: It's probably easier for the average person to rapidly increase your maximal strength with weights than it is with bodyweight. Still, there is more to it than that. I have no doubt that I could have reached 180 lbs faster had I been stacking dozens of pounds onto some dumbells. Still, there's more to it than that. What happens when my joints start to ache once I hit my late 30's? What happens if I compress my cartilage discs in my back from the exta weight on my body? How about if I have a minor slip and an accident? Sure, I may have all kinds of strength in those muscles but what is the good if I'm partially crippled and can't use it? I've heard that the several people, from the Alan Calvert, godfather of weight lifting, to Jamie Foxx who moved away from weight lifting for the same reason: aching joints from heavy weight lifting.

Your cartilage and joints over the long term aren't the only thing to worry about. Every though about the tendons that your muscles connect to? One problem with tendons and ligaments is that they have a far more limited blood flow to them (if any at all) than your muscles do. This is important because they take longer to strengthen. So, if you have a ridiculously powerful muscle attached to a tendon that can't hold the strain of the contraction placed on it, you're going to end up ripping it right off your bone. What good is your powerful muscle then? This is exacerbated by anabolic supplements and steriods too I might add.

So, don't be in such a damn rush. Don't let your aching desire to be the biggest and strongest in the shortest period of time overwhelm your need for a healthy body. At the end of the day, your muscles are only as good as the rest of the support structure on your body. If you wreck it in the name of big, pretty, and powerful muscles then you're going to be left with a body that can't do anything that you want to do with it.


Anonymous said...

what about weighted chins and dips?

Justin_PS said...

Not much of a fan of them. I've thrown some weight on my back while doing pullups (usually a younger cousin of mine, they never get tired of it, too bad I do). I omit them because I can't travel with a weight and I can get a good workout just by changing the style. Towels, rings, or pulling my BW up to one arm and then the next work well for me.