Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Only Way Out Is Through

I hate stagnation as much as the next guy, but sometimes in our search for a way out, we ignore the very thing that we wish to improve. You hear it on the internet all the time:

"Oh, you want to improve your bench? Do dips."
"Oh, you want to get better at squats? Do glute-ham bench."
"Oh, you want to eat less and lose weight? Get a dog."

Listen, dealing with an issue doesn't mean ignoring it. Yes, symptoms and causes can be convoluted - we talked about that here; I'm all for the idea of "same, but different", and I'm a big believer in the use of auxiliary and supplemental exercises.

BUT (and these are important "buts")...

  • There's "same, but different", and then there's "just different". Yes, there can be a "WTH-effect", but the more disparate the exercises, the less likely they're going to pleasantly surprise you with carry-over unless you get lucky or very intelligently choose the Holy Grail of supplementary exercises.
  • The SAID (specific adaptations to imposed demands) principle is pretty, well, specific. If you want to full squat 500 pounds, you're probably going to have to spend a good amount of time squatting... with a barbell... on your back... below parallel... 
I hope it goes without saying that I am NOT advocating pushing through pain and injury. It might not be comforting to hear, nor comfortable to do but, often, the only way out is through. If you want to get better at benching, you need to bench. If you want to improve your squat, you need to squat. If you want to pull heavy, you have to pull. Simple, but not easy.


Mark Reifkind said...

great post but even greater headline. that is so true., the only way out is through.in over 40 years of trainging I haven't found another way; for training or for life.

Boris said...

It certainly is true for life too, isn't it? Thanks Rif.

Ryan Ferguson said...

This is so very, very true.

As a partially-related story, in the gym I work at, one of the other trainers decided he wanted to train me twice a week. We sat down and had a consultation. Now, I want to compete in powerlifting down the track and I'm currently doing squats, press variations and pulls from the floor in every training session. The trainer didn't like that, and wanted to completely revamp my program to primarily isolation exercises and prefatiguing. I explained to him why I would never train that way myself, nor would I ever train someone else that way. He tried (with great frustration) to convince me that leg extensions and leg presses are more important than squatting for someone who wants to squat. After half an hour of this, he gave up on me.

I then walked away and did some squats.

Boris said...

Wow. There are times that isolation and "prefatiguing" are good ideas, but that trainer sounds like someone to avoid. Good luck w. the PL training - let me know how it progresses.