Friday, June 28, 2013

Some things don't go together

According to the gadgets that track my modest Facebook page for the Bodyweight Files, most of you are around my age (32), give or take 5 years in one direction or another...and mostly male.  So, you're also, like me, the prime audience for the Spike Channel.  So, you were also probably a fan of The Deadliest Warrior.  Did any of you see that last, goofier-than-usual, episode where they pitted Vampires vs. Zombies?  Yeah, that was a gnarly episode and an oddball question was brought up somewhere in the episode:  what would happen if you created a vampire-zombie hybrid?  The zombie and vampire experts (God, that was a seriously stupid-but-fun episode) mutually agreed that nothing better would arise from that. 

Awesome!  You could disagree...but you'd be wrong!
We've never been at a shortage for people trying to combine shit that probably has no business being mixed together in the first place in our subculture.  Creating a new hybrid has moved the fitness business along for years with throughly mixed results.  Too often people forget, or don't bother to realize, that there are things that shouldn't be combined.  You don't get something better than what you started with.  Instead, you end up with some really lame-ass shit... or a lame-ass body.   

This has come up a few times in the intelligent scribbles of people I generally trust when they talk moving for the purpose of getting strong.  The first would be Jim Wendler.  He reposted on his Facebook feed about six screw-ups that he made in his training that he hopes nobody makes.  The one that caught my attention was the Good Morning, or, more specifically, loading up tons of plates on a good morning.  The normal thing to do with every weight training move is to move as much weight as possible.  This isn't the point of a good morning.  

The idea, as far as I'm concerned, is to get a good stretch of some important posterior chain muscles on the downward, eccentric part of the movement, followed with an nice, strong contraction on the concentric.  You're probably going to have a hard time with that if you use a substantial amount of weight.  Use too much weight and you really don't have a good morning anymore.  What you're left with is a sort-of-squat-sort-of-good-morning back-wrecker movement.  Furthermore, this movement is often times better done with more reps than less.  This is a prime example of when a good lift is at its best when it's not turned into a max effort movement.  Usually, adding more weight is a good thing with movement.  This is not one of those times. 

Another good piece of writing that graced my eyes was from a friend, Chip Conrad, writing about the overuse of volume in place of other forms of increasing intensity.  I think we all know where this method comes from.  I'm not totally against doing some higher (my definition of high reps begins after 30) reps to a set and I'm not against doing several sets of them, I do have a huge problem with doing lots and lots of high volume sets with an eye on the clock.  These two are about as good for the body as combining Oxy and alcohol.  The reasoning should be plain as day:  committing to a high volume invites some bending of good form here and there, just like committing to high velocity.  Manipulating two factors in a set that both have the potential to break down good form is a terrible idea. 
I'm not a huge form junkie.  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  good form is meant to help make you stronger and keep you safe.  The first allows some flexibility.  The second does not.  The odds are against you that you're going to be able to keep an eye on that fact when you're going as fast as possible over and over and over and over and over... That's why most of my fast-moving exercise choices are rarely done in sets of 5 or 10 and my high volume sets are done with an eye on controlling form for as long as possible. 

I've said before, but you probably know this already, is that there is probably nothing out there that hasn't been tried yet when it comes to strength training.  What works gets buried under a shitty pile of ridiculous gimmicks.  Since there is nothing really new, there's really no point of looking for what isn't there.  What you end up with is comparable to that zombie-vampire who doesn't realize it needs to get out of the sunlight after sucking blood and eating brains because it has no consciousness:  a stupid mistake. 

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