Custom Search

Friday, October 17, 2008

Training Myths - My Take

I posted this not-so-short text on one of the forums that I frequent. It was inspired by a "discussion" that I had with some brain-washed fucktard on another forum that I frequent, as well as the general attitude among the posters on that forum. Yes, it is not a secret: is one of my favorite forums, also one of the most frustrating. I have read excellent training advice there, but it seems that the people who actually train hard, lift heavy and know their shit are being drowned out by the morons who want people to kiss their ass because they bought a kettlebell, or to spout abuse at the "mullets" at the gym. It seems that having or wanting a finely moulded physique presents a sort of offense to these people. I also have a big problem with the down-right crappy layout of the forum, where threads just pile one atop the other. Whatever. I still go there on the random chance that one good post by Jack Reape or Dave Whitley or someone else won't get buried under a couple dozen threads about the "WTH effect".

I shall now delve into an analysis of cow excrement conceptions that abound on the internet. I’ve probably said before, but you should be subjected to at least one test of basic intelligence before they let you log onto the Web. Contrary to my previous beliefs, I have come to the conclusion that freedom of information is dangerous and that the formula:

Abundance of Information + Lack of Processing Capacities = Disaster

Is truer than ever in this era of accessible info.

Back when I was doing graphical design (of sorts), I “obtained” the last version of the Adobe Illustrator software. An excellent programme by anyone’s standards. However, I installed it onto my old computer which lacked sufficient processing capacities, so I would often lose hours of work due to crashes. It is the same way with morons reading stuff on the Web. I found a way out – bought a better computer. Most people don’t have the option of re-wiring their brain for proper function.

Statement no. 1:“The (insert exercise name 1) is not a functional movement. It should be replaced with (insert exercise name 2).”

I posted here a while back discussing the difference between “compound” and “functional”. I won’t delve into that again. A push-up is not more functional than a bench press, unless the press is performed with a very low weight. In this case you can benefit more from doing the push-up and you’re wasting your time on the bench. There is some carryover, but it’s not the same exercise. In much the same manner as there is carryover between the bench press and the military press, but using one to train for the other just doesn’t make sense. I will repeat myself and state that unless you can do 15-20 proper pushups (PROPER!!! i.e. none of the floor-humping crap) you have not earned the right to do bench presses.As for the definition of “functional”, a bench press will be immensely more “functional” to the powerlifter. The push-up will also serve some function, like improving shoulder stability and stuff. To a rock climber, a pullup will be more functional than the deadlift, especially a pullup on rafters or thick beams, or on two or three fingers, as it mimics the climbing pattern better. Now the deadlift is the King of Functional Exercises, judging from the genuflection it receives on the “functional fitness” sites, but in this instance it’s not “functional”.For the record, I prefer the use of the terms “general and specific physical preparedness”. Not that anyone cares.

Statement no. 2:“The bench press sucks!!! Military press is the way to go. It’s so much more functional.”

Okay, here are two general observations after studying a sizeable population of the anti-benching brigade:

a) They universally SUCK at the bench press;

b) They almost universally suck at the military/overhead press too. However, here the disadvantage is lower, as very few people ever do the standing overhead press. A bench press of 200 lbs. is hardly impressive in any setting. An overhead press of 132 lbs (yes, that’s two hands) will seem Herculean to people who have never tried it, or do it as an afterthought of heavy benching;

c) They say “How does lying on your back and pressing a weight correlate to real-life situations?” Well, how often do you press people overhead in real-life situations? Or am I just really sheltered?This is a continuation of the old “if I can’t do it, it can’t be good” mentality. The overhead press is a tremendous strength builder, but give each exercise its due.

Statement no. 3:“Weighted chinups build bigger biceps than barbell/dumbbell curls”

This can be disputed, but IMHO the answer is NO. Were this true, all the Pro Bodybuilders would switch to chinups. The actual answer is a happy medium – for max size, you need both compound and isolation exercises.“But my arms grew 2 inches since I substituted chinups for curls!”Yes. This happened because you used 5 lb. dumbbells for curls, then started training chinups with something called INTENSITY. Plus it’s not really hard to go from a 12” arm to a 14” arm.The winner of the Most Cretinous Response for the month of March was a guy on, a useful forum that I occassionally visit. After I’d made a comment kinda along the lines of what I wrote above, he posted something along the lines of “no, ‘cause that’s not functional, ‘cause you wouldn’t climb a mountain using your biceps”. I sometimes shed a tear for the havoc all the “functional training” info has wreaked on the poor moronic minds of these unfortunates.

Statement no. 4:“Bodybuilding is ridiculous! I hate those mullets!”

Almost everyone who states this is a reformed “muscle pumper” who lost years and years of training in futile efforts to follow the routines of the Champs. Frustrated and experiencing diarrhea from all the overpriced supplements they spent their cash on, they turned against their former brethren and now despise them with a passion. Come on. They’re the same as you. So maybe now you stumbled on the Secret that’ll take your top deadlift from 200 to 220 (whoopee). About 3% of you will actually attain decent muscular development. Don’t you have some compassion for someone who’s doing the same mistake you used to? Were you not once worthy of the term “mullet” yourself?The truth is, most of you are still closet bodybuilders. You’re still after the elusive 18” arm and writhing, massive pectorals. Don’t lie, I know. That’s why you keep changing even the “functional” routines you’re on. That’s why you post your “functional” workouts, but omit the few concentration curls you sneak in somewhere towards the end. You can say no, kick and scream, but there’s no lying to yourself.

Statement no. 5: – from the opposite end of the spectrum:“Bodyweight guys have hardly any muscle. Weights are better for building muscle.”

or another variant:

“Bodyweight exercises create small, hard muscles, while weights produce bigger muscles with less shape”

Although I see the fallacy of this statement, it’s hard to argue against it with someone who’s a firm believer in it. Many of the guys pushing BW stuff don’t look like someone who exercises regularly (or, in fact, at all). Furey is fat and appears to lack muscle mass. Pavel is pretty thin, with wiry muscles. So are most of the RKC dudes, although they’re not BW-only, but the misinformed group kettlebells and BW exercises in the same category. Why this occurs is unknown to me, I can venture a guess that they think of these exercises as “non-barbell”. The mind of the idiot is superbly complex in some areas.I’m already boring everyone by repeating myself, so here I go again: resistance is resistance. Load is defined as a percentage of the maximum resistance opposed (lifted) for a number of reps, like 60% of 3RM. Whether you use weights, BW, cars, dogs, cables, or something else is pretty irrelevant. Now many BW-only guys think that pushups, pullups and situps are al they have to do for high reps to be muscular and ripped. Think again. The progressive system must be employed, i.e. once you can do many reps with a certain resistance, make it harder. This is common sense. Pumping out 300 pushups or situps a day won’t make you bigger, just like doing bench presses with 50 lbs. won’t get you very far.Most of the guys asking this question are frustrated ex-weight-trainers who failed to use the progressive principle and made no progress whatsoever. If you didn’t build any muscle using weights, don’t you think the progression method you’re (not) using is to blame, instead of the means of exercise?

Another point: mostly-BW athletes come from combat sports or professions like law enforcement, military, etc. Combat athletes consciously avoid muscle gain (usually), as it would place them into a higher weight category, hence at a disadvantage. “Tactical” professions require muscular endurance rather than strength, plus the nature of the job (lack of sleep, irregular eating patterns, high stress) sabotages their recovery and muscle-building abilities. Think about it, there is a reason for everything.

I’m sure I’ll think of more bullshit claims. But I leave those for another day.

No comments: