Friday, January 19, 2007

Working on the railroad and Crossfit Pt. 1

Over the past year I have been moving more and more toward focusing on the compound lifts, putting more stress upon the body and thus inducing the proper response to new stress, which should be adaptation. The key here is properly evaluating new trainees to ensure their bodies will adapt and not break down, and that the body has enough nutritional support.

Example: Deadlift vs. Barbell Curls. Which do you think stresses your body more and forces a response, curling a 30, 40, or 50 pound barbell with proper form, or hauling 225 lbs off of the floor? For most of you, it will be the latter. Of course curls should not be thrown away, they are useful as an augmentation exercise, or in preparation to ensure the base strength exists to do deadlifts properly

Before foisting this idea upon the general training public I first tested it myself and saw my strength increase greatly, in particular in the squats. A problem many, many, many people run into is overtraining. The typical attitude is that more must be better, and so people will train for two, three, or even more hours. If you are of a high athletic level, or an endurance athlete this training may be useful, but for the vast majority of us (in particular recreational athletes) you are dealing your body more punishment than it can efficiently recurperate from.
Look at the average weight training workout. People are not doing one exercise for the arms, one for the legs, etc. They are doing multiple exercises, supposedly to hit the muscle from all sorts of angles. A gentleman the other day was asking me about his program which contained no less than six exercises in one session for the legs alone, and he was nowhere near the level needed for such specialization. When you are dealing with this sort of load, it is easy to understand how you can end up weight training for 1.5 to 2 hours a day, 3-5 days a week. Pile on endurance training (if you are doing any) and you can end up going way over that.
Wait, what if we were to do only three weight training exercises per workout? What if you were to only squat, clean and press, and deadlift? How long would that take? Right about 30-45 minutes depending on proficieny. Can this be efficient? Take the average 19 exercises per body part trainee through this workout at my speed and then ask him. Make sure to unzip the body bag they'll be carrying him out in so that you can hear the response.
Building anything is about creating a foundation to operate off of. If you have a poor foundation you are going to have to go back and fix it later, no matter what. I know, because I had to do this to myself.
We know that deadlifting and squatting are far more efficient than cable rows and leg extensions when it comes to creating real strength, power, and muscular development, so why are they rarely done in the gym? You are probably looking at least at a 20-1 raito in the favor of the less effective exercise. One reason is that the 'inferior' movements are a good place to start for some trainees who simply lack the ability to properly perform advanced/basic lifts like squat, deadlift, military press. Another is that they are HARD. They hurt to do properly. Hurt in a good way, not in a bad way. This is also the reason why kettlebells will never be mainstream as far as the ratio against lesser forms of training like riding the stationary bike.

Back to my point. By knocking my training down to compound lifts with some additional bicep and tricep work when time permitted, keeping my workouts under an hour, I saw all of my lifts jump up, to include barbell curls going from 65-95 lbs. at an average bodyweight of 165 lbs. and my deadlift go from being stalled at 315 lbs. to 355 lbs. By doing kettlebell work I also strengthened my grip enough to handle the new demands and also maintained my cardiovascular fitness.

It is only over the past month that I have started seriously investigating the crossfit system, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that...

Whoops. Time to go to bed. See you in Pt. 2

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