Bring Heavy Back In

Lifting heavy things is the most direct (and often only) route to strength and power and therefore awesomeness. Truly, the larger an individuals "strength bucket" from which to draw, the greater resources they have to apply toward pretty much any athletic skill set. [And 9 times out of 10, the better their metabolic furnace for healthy body composition - but that's another matter.]

Yet going heavy has had a...quirky...reputation for some time. Going heavy means meat head culture.

no thanks
Going heavy is thick necks and barrel chests as a prize for 40 minutes of bench press three days per week. It's angel-demon skull-and-wings print, cut sleeve T-shirts over barbed wire tattoos. It's mastodon sized loads flung through a 3-inch arc of movement with shut-yer-face form. Going heavy is I may get this rep or my spine may explode but I'll take my chances. It's inter-set protein shakes while applying knee wraps and head banging to the entirety of Vulgar Display of Power.

That's going heavy, and no baseball player or wrestler or cross country runner or diabetic firefighter or soccer mom wants any part of it. And so the alternatives rally.

no thanks
Thousands of people in popular fitness speak confidently of "toning and lengthening exercise." These trainers and writers believe this fallacy. They provide dire warning against thick blockiness as their frail appendages wave light resistance for high repetitions. Hi reps for toning? Long drawn out aerobic exercise for cardiovascular health? Whoever taught us to think it's so black and white? Take the extreme and awesome brutality known as 20 Rep Squats. Is that for toning or power or muscle building or improved cholesterol profile?
[Answer: all of the above!]

toneing? [yawn] no thank you.   


Many others, thousands and growing, imagine THE root of all awesomeness lies in the School of Infinite Circuits. This usually involves endless variations of push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, leg raises, and squats, each performed until you sweat blood and collapse of tedium. You rest 10 seconds, repeat the whole delirium four more times, and grind out similar workouts three or four additional days per week.

Some in the toning and circuit camps swear that great strength is indeed possible with their methods if only you would eat more, more, and more healthy foods. And so you sit on the toilet four times per day. You look at broccoli and shutter. I never said the School of Infinite Circuits was easy or without benefit. But for the majority of us, there are better ways.

This is a call to bring heavy back in style for every day folk, not just the Olympic- or Power lifters. Here's a nod to all the fruitful methods that fall to the right of the pink toning and circuit-kill but far to the left of the burly guy who can't reach his butt crack. Here's an encouragement to focus your effort to achieving the mobility, stability, and strength that is required to handle a lot of weight, not just for the sake of heavy lifting, but to add awesomeness and longevity to your passion outside of the gym. 

Going heavy should have a few basic qualifiers:

1. Screening tests you must pass before loading up
2. Technique coaching and gradual and realistic progressions
3. Form checks
4. Where needed, "pre-hab" corrective work
5. Reminders that heavy is indeed relative to every individual. [This point is not up for debate unless you have actually bench pressed over 300 lbs or dead lifted over 500 lbs in an official competition.]

THEN...it's time to pour yourself into adding weight to the bar. Calm down. Rest. Add a little more iron. Four or six weeks later you're going heavy. You're pulling up your body weight for reps and then some. And those circuits? A reasonable amount of them aren't so bad anymore because your limit strength is so far up.

So if you want to be strong or fast, jump high, hit far, or look like something different, do what it takes to go heavy. But it's smart. It's systematic and keeps training interesting. It's effective. There's truly no substitute for controlled loading.

Besides, all the cool kids are doing it!

- - - -- 

No comments:

Post a Comment