Monday, March 28, 2011

Are you getting stronger?

A few months ago, at the end of 2010, a pretty well known strength and conditioning coach got some weight off his chest. No, he didn't get lean, and no, he didn't PR in the bench press. He posted a rant of epic proportions on his blog, and he made some waves with it. Jason Ferrugia is a S&C coach from the New York/Jersey area, and is pretty well known for his no-bullshit approach to training.

It ain't strength training unless you're getting strong

Boom, laser show. That just happened.

All in all, I think it was a great (much needed) rant by a pretty well known strength coach. I see it more than a lot of coaches, being that I train in a commercial facility. I see it on a daily basis; people in the gym doing useless crap that is taking them on the long road to nowhere. Don't get me wrong, I am happy that all of these people are in the gym in the first place. That is great, I can't say enough good things about that. But, now that you are in the gym, how about doing something useful? Do you really think benching (flat, incline, decline) 3 times a week is what you need to be doing? Is a 8 exercise bicep workout your path to glory?

On the other hand, I probably know 10 guys who can see their abs year round but weigh 140 pounds. In the words of the great Alec Baldwin in The Departed "Cui gives a shit?" It's not impressive. You still look like a 17 year old girl, AND you're just as strong as that little girl too. Ferrugia is right, very few people need to have razor-cut abs year round. Being that lean all the time is just going to impair your size and strength gains. 

Just frigging eat something, dude.

9 out of 10 guys I see at my gym is skipping the most important stuff. Barbell lifts. Heavy compound exercises. Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, Military Press / Push Press, Rows, Cleans. Just do them, they have been around for decades for a reason. Arnold wasn't doing TRX workouts, he wasn't doing kettlebell circuits. He was picking up heavy shit. 

This brings me to another point; guys who don't know their level. Everything in fitness works off of a baseline level; that is how you gauge your progress. Pretty much every guy I see in my gym is missing a baseline level of strength. I forget who's chart it is, and I can't find it right now, but there is a chart from a strength coach outlining what he expects the lowest levels of strength from his high school athletes to be. Needless to say, most guys in my gym wouldn't even come close to sniffing those numbers. What benefit does a kettlebell circuit provide if you can't squat 1.5 times your bodyweight? If you can't deadlift twice your bodyweight? (FYI for a 185 lb guy, those numbers are 275 and 370, not exactly ground breaking numbers.) Do you really think TRX rows are a superior exercise to T-bar rows? Using progressive over-load with a TRX row is much harder than slapping another 45 on the T-bar. 

What I'm trying to say, is that you should be strong before you are anything else. Ferrari doesn't design their sports cars with a 4-cylinder 120 horsepower engine; they start off with 500 turbo-charged horses and then make the rest of the car look great. Thats how it SHOULD be. There is nothing wrong with TRX's, or kettlebells or High Density Training, or German Volume Training....once you have accomplished certain levels of strength. 

Don't jump the gun. You've gotta walk before you run. And any other cliche that works in this circumstance. In the end, I guess its good that you are actually doing something in the gym, just make sure its worth while.

Now go pick up something heavy.

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