I just got back from Louisiana for the 2009 North American Strongman Nationals. If you remember a former newsletter I stated one of my long term goals was to place in the top 3 nationally in all 3 major strength sports. Olympic style weightlifting, Power lifting, and Strongman. I have completed this task in Olympic style weightlifting. I am best suited for Power lifting but the real challenge for me is going to be Strongman as it is a brand new sport to me (and unlike the former 2 sports, they don’t drug test in these competitions, being drug free obviously makes this even more challenging). This weekend was my first try in Strongnman after just 5 months of training and 2 competitions under my belt. I competed in the 200lb weight class and placed 4th. Very upsetting considering 2nd and 3rd place tied with 40 points and I came in 4th with 39 points. I was the lightest guy so 1 point would have put me in second place. I honestly thought I pulled it off at the end of the competition, but was crushed to find out I missed by such a small margin. Next year.
Olympic Weightlifting: Highest power production (work/time) and the most speed, skill, flexibility, and balance required. This is the most prestigious of the weightlifting disciplines. It is the only Olympic version of weightlifting. The two lifts the snatch and Clean and Jerk are the 2 competitive lifts.
Power Lifting: Highest raw strength out put, lowest skill, most universally practiced due to ease of exercise mastery (ie. Move object from point A to B). The competitive lifts are the squat, bench press, and dead lift. These lifts are generally slower but much heavier.
Strongman: Log lifting, tire flipping, stone loading, carrying, pushing, etc. This is a very random chaotic movement pattern and the oldest style of strength testing. Lifting heavy rocks and stones is how most all strength training originated. Trust me, I am a caveman. But, strongman training is actually the most aerobic and physically demanding as the tasks require a multitude of skills and tasks to be performed not only for max strength and power but total work over a given period of time (ie. Carrying a 700 pound yoke on your back for distance and speed with a 60 second time limit).
As you can see these all measure different parameters of strength and power…So, dominating one does not mean you will dominate the next. This is almost like comparing a marathon runner to a sprinter in some cases.
Here is a video from National Geographic comparing all 3 strength sports. I am actually in it for brief clips lasting only a few seconds. If you watch close you will see me doing some Olympic lifts.
Superhuman Strongman part 1/5 (Check: 9:29-9:40ish) click here
Superhuman Strongman part 2/5 (Check: 0:25-0:29) click here
Superhuman Strongman part 3/5 (No show, thank God, these guys are crazy) click here
Superhuman Strongman part 4/5 (N/A) click here
Superhuman Strongman part 5/5 (N/A)click here
Anyway, I like all of them. It’s allot of fun. And, as my client Bryndon likes to tell me, ” You may not be smart, but you can lift heavy things.”
He’s just mad because he is dumb AND weak;)
Bodybuilding: Large volumous, useless, shaved, and oiled muscles….I have no interest in ever competing in this one. However, I sometimes shave and oil up just for fun!
So why should you care about all this strength stuff? Because, strength preceedes all parameters in the gym. You want tone? You need to develop strength to obtain it. You dont get tome from lifting a pencil 15 times, you get it from lifting your best weight for 15 times. You want muscular size? You need strength first to lift enough for enough reps to make the muscle grow (then excess calories, male sex hormones, and years of work). You want to lose wieght? Read below for a more clear explanatin but it comes down to work. Hard work. Work is performed via energy which happens to be stored as adipose cells and glycogen in your body. Strength precedes all in the gym (except posture and mobility) And, DO not misunderstand, I am not talking about the freak show from above, I am talking about relative strength…its ALL relative..unless, you want to compete in one of the above sports.
Weightlifting and Weight loss
I will make this one short and simple. Ok, I will try at least.
Over and over again I hear people explain their fear of bulking up with “heavy” weightlifting. Most of this fear is perpetuated by the media’s obsession with and misinformation of aerobics as the best means for weight loss for the past 50 years or so (Thank you Dr. Cooper and Dr. Dean Ornish). My clients could all beat both of you up AND have better HDL cholesterol levels.
Here are a few current case studies of Lab Rats killing it. Toning and leaning up with SUBSTANTIAL weight loss and increased functionality from weightlifting.
Why weightlifting? Muscles move joints and bones. Collectively, this moves your body. And the better you can move your body (and not controlled falling=energy efficient, coordinated work=energy costly).
a) This requires calories. If you lift light weights and exert minimal effort, you burn minimal calories. If you exert maximum effort, you burn maximum calories. Maximum efforts will also build more lean muscle tissue, which will raise your RESTING metabolic rate which will allow you to burn calories 24hrs a day (this is microscopic and not Arnold. The large sensations you feel after lifting is edema in the active muscles. You will feel a firm tone developing and likewise circumference decreasing, this is a change in density…not bulk). Your engine will be running higher at idle levels
b) Activities of daily living require that you squat, bend, lift, step, push, pull, etc. From getting out of bed, flexing in the mirror, getting on and off the toilet, pulling on your trousers, tying your shoes, carrying your groceries, all require specific ranges of motion that running/walling do not stimulate (small repetitive range of motion in both). Training these ranges of motion with resistance (with optimal posture and range) will increase flexibility and functionality. Basically, you will be able to do more things with your body, from basic to advanced movement. Use it or lose it. If you stop using your knees past the requirement of walking, they stop functioning well past that range, they calcify, become weak and shorten, and will atrophy down to what they are required to do. Muscles develop based upon demands, consistent demands placed upon them which make them develop and maintain. You take away the demand they go away…fast.
c) For some reason people are under the assumption that weightlifting does not work the aerobic systems of the body. Hmmm, send them to The Lab, I would be happy to fix that in 5 minutes. Ask Voy Andrews, today his face was as red as the blood red painted walls in the gym (And has averaged 5lbs of weight loss for the past 6 weeks in a row). His longest cardio ‘traditional’ workout is 15 minutes long. He was most definitely taxing his aerobic system. And let me ask you this, how often in life are you required to run for an hour straight (not this is bad, wrong, or not a nice piece of fitness, I am just trying to promote the other side to you so you may reap the benefits. And perhaps weightlifting and can no longer be considered the step child of exercise used only for meatheads and muscle heads. Nor, get more people to realize that it will not cause you to become ‘muscle bound.’). On the other side the aerobic requirements of weightlifting much more closely require the needs of life AND sports (squatting, bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, etc). Most team sports plays last seconds. Sure, plays may last longer but the high intensity side of the play lasts merely seconds. They may skate, run, or swim around a bit between plays, but the action is hard and brief. Like our super setting style with high payout exercises (squatting, bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, etc). However, we are not even talking sports here but, life and weight loss needs. Our weightlifting sets last anywhere between 20-90 seconds tops. But, they are intense! As soon as you catch your breath we are working an opposing exercise. From there we push the density of the workout to your personal max. How much work can you do? This will establish your success. This is just like running sprints and the main limiting factor is the recovery of your aerobic system…And look at the physiques of sprinters vs marathoners…Ok, I said I would keep it short.
-2 Quick real life case studies of current Lab Rats that are working this exact approach:
Danielle Green: Female, Age: 23, Exercise experience: 6 months. Weight loss: Just over 30 lbs. Squat: 135×10 reps, leg press: 500lbs x 10 reps (easy). Pushups: 25. Leaner and stronger than ever. And, she has taken a few vacations along the way;)
Voy Andrews: Male, Age 49. Exercise experience, just over 6 months. Weight loss: 51 lbs. Starting dead lifts: 25 lbs for 15 reps. Dead lifts yesterday: 265×5, 250×7, 225×10. Pushups: 40. Until 6 months ago Voy has never performed a single jumping jack. This morning he did 50 in a row. Leaner and stronger than ever.
If you ask either one of them if they are starving or depriving them self nutritionally they with both happily tell you that they have had to take no drastic measure to their diet to have such success.
Weights, Cardio, Healthy dietary habits, the 3 requirements to optimal health and fitness…does your program cover all 3?