Three Reasons to Back Away From the Barbell is a guest post by Anthony Mychal.
Building a body that matters means spending a lot of time in the gym among the clam and clatter of barbells and iron. And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (big weights do build a big physique after all), a harsh dive into barbells often leads to training amnesia: we forget about other muscle building methods.
Training amnesia is common. The feel of the barbell becomes so familiar, we think it’s the only piece of equipment that spurs progress.
But, as I’m sure you know, this is a mirage. There are many other ways to train without stacking plates on the bar. Often times, these “other ways” can elicit adaptations and gains that barbells can’t offer.
Don’t believe me?
Here are three ways to become more athletic, get stronger in unimagined places, and “secretly” build more muscle. No barbell required.
GET YOUR PLAY BACK
Part of barbell amnesia is forgetting how to “play.” And, no, I don’t mean sports. I mean having fun outdoors without being confined by rest periods, sets, reps, or much of anything.
Late sprint coach Charlie Francis used to say, “Looks right, flies right,” in regards to athletic movement. But these days, most everyone looks for their athletic answers in some kind of weighted exercise, be it a squat, sandbag carry, snatch, or barbell complex.
Real athleticism, however, is about having fleet feet—something barbells can’t teach. Over time, we lose our childlike ability to absorb and output force. Read the rest of this entry »
As you can see, I WAS NOT born with a body that would easily add muscle, or improve in other areas as well, like strength, speed and athleticism. Here are a few things that led to my eventual transformation…
For starters, if I hadn’t eventually met the right person who helped me build the system that lead to my transformation, I’d probably still be stuck failing, doing the same crap that I was doing for my first 7-years in the gym. I would have been stuck in the body that you see above.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.” ~ Einstein
Learn From Someone Who Has Accomplished What You Want to Accomplish
(Or at least someone who has helped someone accomplish what you want to accomplish)
Rocky Marciano had power in the 1st and 15th round (when it counted the most).
Power is a fast but brief exertion of force. The more weight you can move the faster, the more powerful you are. But that doesn’t really count in sports – unless you’re an Olympic lifter or power. We need power that is there in the first round, quarter, period, or inning, but is also there in the last.
There’s more than one way to skin a cat
And there’s more than one way to build power that lasts. My preference is using each of them at different periods of training. The thing with being an athlete, weekend warrior, or just a normal guy who wants to be as awesome as possible, is that we want more. We want lean muscle, to look like an Adonis and to perform like Achilis.
It makes sense that we want power that lasts, not just something that’s going to be a one and done type of deal.
What do Reggie Bush, Wladimir Klitschko, and George St. Pierre all have in common?
1. They train to perform better. They focus in improving things like speed, power, endurance and quickness.
2. Each of them is as shredded as can be and physiques that a lot of guys would dream of having.
So what gives? Why do they have insane physiques, while the average guy at the gym – who wants nothing more than to build an amazing-looking body – struggles to put on just a bit of muscle, or lose just a bit of fat?
There are the obvious excuses we can throw out there. We can talk about these guys have insane genetics – true. We can go into how they have more on the line than we do – really? Or we can just look at what they do that we don’t do, and implement the stuff that works for guys like them into our routines.
So, what the hell do I know about “accidentally” putting on lean muscle, or building my ideal body?
If your ultimate goal is to just build mass – then this blog post isn’t for you. But, if your goal is to build lean and athletic muscle mass, then read on.
I was always a skinny kid growing up. In high school and college this didn’t change at all, even though I was trying, working my ass off in the gym 5-6 times a week in vain. I wanted to build muscle, but I wanted to have a six-pack, that V-shaped torso, and improve my performance at the same time. I just had no clue how to make it happen.
I failed for 7 years. I’d try a powerlifting plan, gain some fat and a bit of muscle, then try a bodybuilding program like the pro’s do, which would make me lose weight. It was frustrating as hell, but there were a few things that I was doing wrong. When I fixed them, I put on the muscle (32 pounds in 32 weeks) that I had been craving for so long.
Single “limb” training is a great way to correct any imbalances you may have developed over the years. It’s also a great way to break a plateau and get away from your normal everyday routine.
Over a 3 part series I’ll be going over single limb training for lower body – today – upper body pushes and upper body pulls. I’ll also be putting up a video workout for you guys to try as well.
Single leg training is an effective way to build strength in either leg individually while replicating athletic movements more closely than you would with double leg training.
Building Strength Through Single Leg Training
You’ll find that your single leg strength in a squat isn’t close to half of your double leg strength, as you may think. Developing each leg individually will increase your strength in a double leg squat but also build each muscle properly without any imbalances.
Balance and leg position also play more of a role in single leg training than they do in double leg training. In single leg training, often for balance purposes, your foot position is more centred than it would be in a double leg squat which is more of an athletic position (ie. you don’t run with your legs shoulder width apart or wider like you may squat, especially as you begin to add weight and lower your reps). Read the rest of this entry »