absolute-strength

It’s amazing how you walk into a gym and you see so many different things going on.  You have the treadies, the uber”functional” crowd, the lazy bodypart split guys, the women with their 5lb dumbbells, and those who only take classes like Zumba (wtf is that anyways?), yoga, and group power.  This is where I work.  It is in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world and most of the members are lawyers, financial folk, insurance people, and secretaries.

I understand that 99% of our members and most gym-goers for that matter are not athletes nor do they care about how much they can squat or how fast they can sprint.  Some only care about how they look and others only care about how they feel.  Some think the path to fatloss and fitness is only on the cardio equipment and others feel they have to bury themselves with as much exercise as possible 9 times a week.  Not only that but it has to be the flashiest upside-down-spinning-skullcrushing core exercise anyone has ever seen this side of the Mississippi.  Yeah, I just spelled that out loud as I wrote it, I bet your doing the same now.

I also understand that 99% of my clients, especially this neck of the woods, really need a good amount of corrective exercise.  Tony Gentilcore put it best in an article I read several months ago: “Everyone has shitty posture, even Robocop.”  This means everyone, even me and is especially true for those who spend most of their day in the sitting position.

More and more, people are starting to “get” that.  My clients especially.  They also understand that 9 times out of 10, less is more.  Less of the crap you see other people doing and more of the stuff that will actually help.

 

So why is it that beyond movement and posture correction I teach things like deadlifting, squatting, and proper pushing and pulling exercises to my clients?

Is it just so they can lift more?

It is no secret that I am a powerlifter.  I am one of few (2 of my 100+ clients have competed) in my gym that lifts maximal weights and focus on strength rather than physique.  I am 6 feet tall and 190ish pounds, earth shattering by no means.  My lifts are average (maybe lower) for a powerlifter with a 300+ lb bench, 400lb squat and deadlift that seems stuck at 450.

When members see me train they think I am slow, inflexible, don’t move well and and am nonathletic.  For the most part, they want exactly the opposite so they stick to classes and workouts that have little to no carryover to reach their goals.  They plateau.

I on the other hand am amused when people see me do something like a box jump and clear 54″ with little to no training.

I teach a hill sprint class in the summer and people are amazed when I blow them out of the water.  They are all runners, I am not.

I can do things like carioca, skip, and do ladder drills like Muhammad Ali.  I move like a ninja.

I am in fact, quite athletic.

When people see this they automatically assume that I must be training 5-6 days a week for hours a day.  No one believes me that I just train for strength 3-4 times a week for about an hour.  Do I do the other “stuff”?  Sometimes, but only when it is “necessary”.

*Steps off soapbox*

That said, how is it that just strength training along with preventative stuff like foam rolling and corrective exercise translates into, well, pretty much everything else?  An analogy that I have heard many times and strongly believe in is from coach Brett Jones, “Absolute strength is a drinking glass.  Everything else is the water.  The bigger the glass the more of everything else you can do.  As your strength goes up, everything else can be expanded too!”

I want this to be my glass please!

Although my clients don’t powerlift per se, they do train with heavy weights with “heavy” being a relative term.  They deadlift, squat, do pullups, and have a pretty mean pushup as well.

It isn’t surprising to me that those that run races, beat their old times.  Blow them out of the water in some cases.

The ones that ski don’t get hurt, last the whole day, and come back feeling great.

Those in leagues for softball, hockey, and basketball tell me they are more athletic some of the players that are half their age.  They have more power, strength AND endurance.

I see all sorts of things going on around the gym that I “could” be doing to make my biceps bigger.  Things people equate to athleticism, core, and fatloss.  I could be doing those things with my clients.  Maybe standing on a stability ball “is” actually good for you, who am I to judge?

For now though, I think that I will stick to what works.


Written by Steve