Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Joining the Strength Training Mainstream?

I've always stated in the past that I don't have anything against weights except that they cost money and they're not easy (sometimes impossible) travel with. I've picked up on Kettlebells in the past two years since they're reasonably easy to throw behind the seat of pick-up trucks. Those I deemed them worth investing some money. On the other hand, I refused to buy a barbell set-up. Even those are a major stretch to drag in a pick-up truck. So, I held off buying that. I won't deny that there was an anti-establishment slant that factored into that decision too. Still, it was bulky and not easy to travel with. That was the major problem with them. If it's going to sit at home, where I'm rarely at, then why make the investment?

Then again, if you don't have to BUY a barbell, the plates and a squat rack, then it's suddenly a good investment, right?

Well, that's what transpired before Henry showed up. My aunt and uncle had a squat rack along with the usual 300 lbs Olympic barbell+plates set-up that they weren't using anymore so they ended up giving it to me. I've got a nice family, don't I?

Now that I've started training with a barbell, I've got a lot to experiment with and reflect upon. Since commencing barbell battles, I'm less apt to skip over much of what people write about them. I find a lot of oddities though. The barbell is consistently held up as the gold standard of getting strong, the best way of getting strong.

I heard a good one the other day...
kettlebells are great for people too weak to lift real weights
Steve Pulcinella
While reading an old Pavel book while on the toilet, I came across this one...
The more I do with kettlebells, the more I think of abandoning every other form of training. The workouts simultaneously train everything... there is a great deal of truth to the axiom that all training is a matter of trade-offs, but if anything out there threatens that wisdom, it's got to be KB's."

Rob Lawrence
I guess we can add these senseless statements to the list of best hits like weight training will bust up joints, make you muscle-bound and inflexible. Or that BW is good for endurance only, incapable of building any REAL strength?

Seriously, has anyone considered how they use the tools that they train with makes more of a difference rather than the tools themselves? Most people train KB's and BW in high reps. That's not the only way to use them though. There's things that can be done in low reps that are so ridiculously hard that they couldn't help but not build max strength on planets Bodyweight and Kettlebell. On the flip side of that equation, things like my 100 rep, 1/2 BW squat challenge was definitely more of an endurance builder than it was a max lift enhancer. To top this all off, try doing a windmill without a weight. This is actually harder! The weight helps you get down there. So, you could call the windmill an instance where weights help you increase flexibility! This is far from the only instance.

That's just one part of why I've got no real burning urge to join anything resembling a fitness mainstream. Too often a materialistic urge, whipped along by clever marketing shit, molds people's outlook on how to get in shape. The tools alone don't make the strength. What you decide to do with what you've elected to work with is what's going to get the job done. This varies from one method of training to the next. As far as I'm concerned, one doesn't have a dramatic edge either.

Off-topic a bit... someone asked me a while ago about my max deadlift. Unable to provide an answer since I had no barbell to deadlift, I figured it out after writing this. I guess I, like most other junkies, had to know. I stopped at 345 lbs since I was indoors with no bumper plates or proper flooring. Funny, this was my first BB-DL attempt!


Ivan said...

I've been following your blog for some time now. I must say that I'm impressed by your willingness to expand your horizons while staying grounded and doing what works. This is not my strength..

Oh, and (belated) congratulations on your boy! My son is 8 months now - there's a world of fun ahead of you!

Dray said...

It seems like most people who can do advanced bodyweight exercises that contract parts of the back can do a deadlift in the range of 300+ their first time training with a barbell.

Have you done any overhead work with the barbell? When I started off overhead pressing I could barely push press 135 (!!!) despite having done some months of consistent handstand pushups off the floor. I realized that the pressure of the barbell adds much more of a midsection element and that I wasn't going to get carryover without going full range of motion on the HSPU's (and won't get much carryover back to HSPU's).

And what can I say about both quotes except that they're both true for the person who said them?

(Whew, and I have to agree with Ivan about your approach to strength training.)

Also noticed a comment on the C&P blog concerning tendonitis; I thought I'd mention that I do actually rocket in and out on pullups, but that I don't hinge on the bicep tendons; I perform them like a bent arm pullover done with my bodyweight (coming nearly to full extension at the bottom however), and since performing them that way haven't had tendonitis issues.

(that's one hell of a longwinded comment.)

Justin_PS said...

Hey, it's all good! I'm a solitary, cellar-dweller so I look at my blog as a way to swap comments and experiences.

Overhead pressing with weights is definetly much different than HSPU's, even though the movements are somewhat similar. I don't have the space to overheadpress a BB so I do a lot of that with KB's.

Thanks, Ivan and Dray for your compliments and well wishes!