Saturday, November 12, 2011

A strong base.

Arnold did deadlifts, so should you!

For years poorly taught personal trainers have been touting the benefits of supposed "sport specific training" and endurance building workouts.  I believe everything has its season, I do believe there is a time for higher reps, cross training, and muscular endurance, but for the average Joe, or for a serious athlete looking to gain strength and power this shouldn't make up the majority of their program.  I am a firm believer in building a strong foundation of strength and then cycling with different methods to focus on certain traits you would like to develop ( like power, isometric strength, or endurance).  Every time I go to the gym and see a personal trainer having a 40 year old woman doing box jumps, or see a muscle bound idiot doing sets of 20 repetition cheat curls with 20lb dumbbells I have to wonder where weightlifting is headed.  It really seems like the type of fitness routine you use should make sense for your goals, I don't know a lot of 40 year old women who need to be jumping up on boxes.  I am a firm believer that if you are taking the time to lift weights, you should also take the time to invest in building a solid strength base BEFORE you hop into some of the more "advanced" lifting techniques, or doing endless compound sets for endurance.

Whether you are: an athlete, a body builder, want to tone up and look better, or even just have an easier day to day life, I truly believe it all begins with a strength base.  What I mean by this is pretty simple, it involves compound movements like: bench press, overhead press, squat, dead lift, bent over rows, snatches, hang and power cleans, and chin ups.

Imagine an 50 year old woman who just wants to have better balance and mobility around the house;  a trainer at a gym would probably have her doing all sorts of strange lifting techniques.  This woman's workout might consist of 10 minutes of cardio as a warm up, step ups on a bench, ball crunches, rows, curls, triceps extensions...if shes lucky!  Most trainers would just put her on an endless circuit of machine work.  Trainers are taught the main way people associate whether they got a good work out or not with these key properties:  Did they sweat?, Did it burn?, Were they out of breath?, Were you sore the next day?  If they answer yes to all of these questions, then clients will probably sign up for another session.  This has led the popular belief of personal training to be along the lines of fast paced, cardiovascular oriented weight routines. Think it about it though... Did you say you wanted to look better, or just feel the burn?,  Did you say you wanted day to day life to be easier, or just to be sore the next day?  Did you say you wanted to be stronger for your sport, or just be out of breath?  Ask yourself these questions, is your current workout really making you stronger, are you seeing consistent week to week gains in the amount of weight you lift, are you looking better each week, does lifting things around the house get easier each week, when you do a BJJ class does every one comment on how strong you feel?  These questions are the real measures of effectiveness of your workout and I'll tell you how to make the answer to all of these questions yes.

I don't think there is a clearly decided system for building a strength base.  The main two types of lifting I would recommend for a beginner are power lifting and Olympic lifting.  Power lifting consists of mainly back squats, dead lifts, bench press, over head press, and rows.  Olympic lifting mainly consists of snatches, power/hang cleans, clean and jerks, front squats, and dead lifts.  I personally have chosen power lifting and despite a pretty sharp divide between the two communities I would never claim one form is better than another, just that they are different, and they offer many similar and also many different benefits.  Both disciplines will offer:  increased over all strength, more powerful movements, super strong cores (abs and lower back), increased balance and stability, and of course a muscular body (if combined with proper diet).  Though my blog is geared towards athletes, especially BJJ athletes, these benefits still extend to EVERYONE, whether you are 80 years old, a single middle aged mother, or a 30 year old overweight male.

My next weightlifting post will cover extensively how to put together a workout to promote all the things mentioned in this article using compound barbell exercises.  I'll show you what I'm using and I'll also recommend you a few sources of excellent information to help you along your journey and make sure you are using proper technique and have a good program to use.  I'll be more than happy to answer any questions on any of these topics so please comment below if you would like any tips, or would like to leave any feedback. Please help my blog to grow by posting links or sharing my articles on facebook, Digg, stumble upon, twitter or any social networking site.



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