Why fear strength?

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Today’s workout:

Max Squats. With bands, perhaps? There’s about 16 Bodytribers gearing up for our APA meet in two weeks so this is our last week of max force development work before we have a deload week leading up to the meet. So evn if you’re not competing, join in the heavy lifting fun today, and get your squat on.

Combo Catch o’ the Day: Judith Butler.

Looks a little like this:


Why Fear Strength?

A local trainer who has an intransigent affection for what is traditionally known as ‘cardio’ and a hankerin’ for that modern trend with classic roots, Pilates, told one of my clients how she would never do ‘that powerlifting stuff’ with her clients. To be fair, I’d never do ‘that triathalon stuff’ with my clients, which she has a penchant for (although I guarantee that this ‘powerlifting stuff, if that’s what the techniques of Bodytribe are to be referred to, will step up a triathlete’s game a bit). But what a statement like that screams to me is an aversion to getting strong. Staples like spin classes, jogging and Pilates usually fall under the classic banner of ‘fat loss and tone,’ that marshmallow world of aesthetic pursuits often camouflaged as fitness. Although individually they might get a sweat going and increase a portion of the fitness palate, a program founded on this common health club buffet does little to make someone STRONG.

The pursuit of strength means so much more to us than just the quest to pick up heavy stuff, right? We know this and have bantered about it on these blog pages for several years now. My little pastiche rambles on about it, every article to come out of Bodytribe skews its propaganda with this thought in mind, and every time a news show decides to feature our little culture, I cringe when we can’t get this point across between their cliche questions and shallow on-air banter.

It is within this sheltered idealism that I am relatively protected. My fitness news comes from trusted sources; people and tribes that are promoting similar quests of empowerment through the sweat and tears of battling against gravity’s tenacity. Now of course not everyone shares this passion for strength, hence our use of the term ‘physical subculture’ to describe the semi-underground status of our branch of fitness. But it is still surprising to learn about fitness professionals who are actually considerably behind the times on what pursuing strength might mean. At last count there were a million and one ways to add movement into your life, some with more bang for a deflated buck than others. Why are so many trainers still so limited?

The classic yes-man of the exercise world has been jogging. Over the last few decades, centuries of time spread amongst millions of people have been spent covering bajillions of miles on foot, at a pace slightly faster than a brisk walk. Out of all the people I’ve met (granted, a limited demographic), about 1 in 15 people actually enjoy running. But about 1 in 2 people embark in jogging as part of their initiation into fitness. That’s a big chunk of folks who choose to run even if they don’t like it.


Pound-for-pound, dollars for doughnuts jogging delivers a pretty low overall payback on the fitness scale, especially when comparing injury rates, body composition and sports performance outcomes to so many of the other menu options. As a nutritious part of a complete fitness breakfast, jogging is a fun and effective tool to be included in the workout arsenal, but ‘twould behoove most folks to also move against gravity in many other ways against different loads to create true holistic fitness.

And don’t get me started on spinning and Pilates. Simply put, smart training for a monster deadlift will do more for any spine (or ‘core’) than Pilates ever will, and what would an hour spin class do for you that 10 minutes of intense kettlebell or sandbag play wouldn’t? And if you want true fat loss, eat better. No amount of sweating, running, spinning or whatever will beat that.

Meanwhile, don’t fear strength.



Upcoming Stuff

DVD Update: it will be officially done by the Winter Strength Camp!!

Saturday the 28th: Bodytribe will be WELL represented at our upcoming APA Powerlifting meet, with at least 16 Tribe lifters, many doing their first meet. We love spectators, but we could also use extra hands for plate loading and spotting, so come out and support Bodytribe however you can!!

This Saturday’s Tune Up: Intro To Olympic Lifting, part II: The Clean!

Also this Saturday, in the evening, both Trainer Allyson and I will be performing as part of the Sacramento version of the recent Songs About Presidents show in DC. At Marilyn’s on K Street at 9:00. More info here.


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Showing 6 comments
  • Daniel

    Yeah…good post, nice to read and absolutely the truth.
    It’s international—if i run, i will loose fat…cause of fatburning.

    Go anhead!!
    I like your style.
    Daniel (germany)

  • Andy

    Hey, I don’t have a problem if people fear MY strength!
    It’s fun to watch the dynamic unfold even at Bodytribe. I’ve seen people walk in during their first few weeks and watch heavy lifters (powerlifters and otherwise) from a distance as though they were questioning whether they were in the right place. Now many of those once-timid souls are prepping for their first powerlifting meet. It’s fucking awesome to have a full powerlifting crew at Bodytribe once again, and I think we’re all looking forward to seeing some PR’s set and state, national and even world records broken by first-time competitors.

  • Jack

    Great post! Love the DVD out takes too!

  • Veronica

    Chip, I love ya Man!

  • chip

    Right back at ya!

  • Craig W

    Jogging is awful. Strength training, on the other hand, is awesome. I performed my first free-standing headstand pushup negative the other day. It’s not quite as spectacular as achieving a perfect iron cross or squatting 500lb, but it’s tangible progress, and I was satisfied nonetheless. I hope the meet goes well for all of you!

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