Saturday, April 3, 2010

Two Tips

It’s funny how mystical strength training can be to the un-initiated. Those of us who do it successfully take it for granted how strength training is surprisingly simple. In fact, we probably find ourselves doing things subconsciously that many people miss. These things are the details that make normal strength training hardcore.

So, you want to be hardcore? Do you want to know the exercises that will make you sick-strong? Um, I think I have an idea, or two. I don't know if you consider me either hardcore or sick-strong but I know that I've gotten more benefit from following these two tips when it comes to training.

The first tip is to restrict, or eliminate all-together, any exercise where you sit or lay down. These two are acts of rest when you aren’t supposed to be resting. It’s exercise, dammit! I think that you should spend the bulk of your training time standing, on your hands and feet, or hanging from something. All of these require activating more muscles than you’d otherwise do if you were sitting or laying. This is one of BW’s hidden strengths: You’re almost always on your feet, hands, or some combination of the two. Well, except for maybe the crunches, and I think that those suck. Other than that, you're always on your limbs, and that helps a lot.

If you lift weights for strength, then this second tip is for you. The standard equipment for lifting are dumbbells and barbells. From the early infancy of physical culture, these two tools were unique from all other pieces of equipment because they were possibly the first ones to be designed specifically for strength training. Most of the others started life as implements with other uses that people found out could make them stronger if lifted on a regular basis (think: kettlebells, sandbags, stones, etc).

The nice thing about barbells and dumbbells is that the weight for these tools is evenly distributed on either side of the handles, with the center of gravity being at the hands. That allows for lifting a lot of weight. Still, I think that you lose something when the weight is more amorphous and unstable. In other words tip number two is: lift stuff that's not made to be lifted. Unusual, heavy objects fight you every step of the way. That means you need to activate more muscle to get it up and down.

That's what both of these two tips amount to: you're forcing yourself to use muscles that you just wouldn't normally use you're trying to make everything nice, easy, even, balanced and comfortable. It's training; and it's supposed to be HARD. Accept it for what it is. The more that you try to get away from making it challenging, the less that you get out of it. Don't fall into the trap of modification for the sake of your sloth. That's what being hardcore is all about.

4 comments:

BOLT FIT said...

Thanks for the great advice. I really like the two tips! I've been primarily into bodyweight exercises for awhile, and I'm now just getting into kettlebells. Just found your blog, and I really like it a lot. Keep up the great work! Also, I was curious what all you do for leg exercises? I think I saw that you do some pistols, which I do too...any other tips on leg workouts using bodyweight/kettlebell for strength?

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog.

As for the first tip, I don't want to take you too literally, but BJJ and sub-wrestlers have several drills that are quite difficult that require laying down - but moving while doing it.

I guess I'm saying that one can't take that tip to an extreme if they are involved in specific sports.

But again, good blog.

Justin_PS said...

Note that I left open the possibility of restricting the amount of exercises that you do from a seated or lying position. I did BJJ for 7 years so I know how potent some of the sweep-from-guard and butterfly guard drills can be.

I think what I was getting at, more than anything, was the use of machines.

Justin_PS said...

Note that I left open the possibility of restricting the amount of exercises that you do from a seated or lying position. I did BJJ for 7 years so I know how potent some of the sweep-from-guard and butterfly guard drills can be.

I think what I was getting at, more than anything, was the use of machines.