Method Comparison for Strength Geeks 1: The Physical

SECTION  2: Physical

This is a collection of reviews about a handful of the groovy programs offered within our physical culture these days. Even though it is part one of a bigger project, it is still broken into 4 separate sections, so feel free to click below to shoot over to any of the other pages.

Intro
Physical (you are currently here)
Metaphysical
Tribe and Integrity

The pictures throughout this massive virtual tome are mostly random, featuring either shots from the dustbins of physical culture, or the good folks and toys here at Bodytribe.

THE PHYSICAL: Tools and programming

Here’s what we’re looking for…

Are ya quantifiably physically stronger? Have you greater physical skill? Can you follow this program forever, or are the risks greater than the outcome? Would you be a physical benefit to your family, tribe community, or are your skills limited?

Look… a hard, crappy workout is still a crappy workout. Enduring a tough workout is not life changing. Enduring a GOOD workout is, but it is not always easy to find a modern trainer or coach who knows the difference. The false empowerment of accomplishing a poorly executed workout is currently fueling the nouveau fitness culture, creating the belief that surviving some sort of grueling mishmash of challenging exercises, through any means necessary, is the only goal worth having.

Your body needs you to believe that doing something correctly is Job One.

A quick word about being a trainer/coach…

If some of your life choices include imposing force on other folks, you might either be a dictator or a trainer. Although dictators seem to spring up with an odd (and frightening) ubiquity around the world, they’re numbers are dwarfed by the fitness mitosis that seems to create trainers in vast numbers, all duplicates of each other. The titles might differ… personal trainer, coach, strength and conditioning specialist, and good intentions might have started everyone on their chosen path. But subjecting another human to possibly dangerous forces should have a few more requirements than personality and good intentions.

In fact, the dubious job of changing lives through movement could be quartered into sections of equal importance:

Technique

Program Design

Personality

Purpose.

(Sure, we could replace “technique” with “procedure” if you prefer alliteration… not sure how I feel about that yet.). We should pay a bit of attention to these when turning our discerning eyeballs towards these modalities.

Through the eyes of holistic fitness, there is a protocol that places the understanding of the mechanics, and the actual purpose, of movement before adding volume or intensity. When technique plays a distant second fiddle to volume or speed, then ya ditch the dance party that we covet called Embodiment, where mind, body and spirit open peace talks and go on a bonding spree like a peyote-filled bus ride melting boundaries and smelting the most important relationship of all – in fact the starting point for other relationships in your life. The connection between you and You.

Keep these in mind as we review the following programs.

Bodytribe visits Dessert CrossFit

CROSSFIT

Tools: Barbells, kettlebells (mostly just basic movements), dumbbells, plyo boxes, pullup bars and bodyweight. Limited use of gymnastics rings, sleds and sandbags.

The big name that will take up the greatest amount of virtual ink is, of course, CrossFit.  They seem to be the industry standard for physical culture communities right now, and through sheer popularity, CF is the easiest barometer to gauge against.

Just for the record, I’ve been to and taught workshops at dozens of CFs. I’ve dialoged (i.e. debated) with hundreds of CFers, and have had many, MANY folks with a CF background come through my own gym and become clients or members.  I’ve been quoted by them in forums and on their websites, I’ve become friends with many CF trainers around the world and it isn’t hard to see the trends, both good and less-than-stellar, offered by the traditional CF system (yes, it has enough of a history now to find a commonality that may be called “traditional”).

And yes, I am intimately familiar with their WODs, unlike many outsiders to CF who have decided to throw their 2-cents into the interweb.

I’m going to summarize these next too many pages with this paragraph…

Please keep this in mind!! As a tool, in its purest form, CrossFit could be a great addition to the holistic fitness arsenal. But it is no longer treated as a tool. It is a community, a program, and now a brand name.  It is often treated more like the entire  toolbox. THAT is what is under review here, what CrossFit currently is as a whole, not what it could be in the right hands with the right intentions. We’re reviewing reality, not potential.

CrossFit can be credited for introducing a great number of people to a small handful of the tools and techniques of the physical culture. We’re at a pivotal point in the fitness world right now where the strength and movement techniques that have had an underground lifestyle for many years – from powerlifting and weightlifting to hand balancing and gymnastics – are getting much more exposure.  Crossfit would like to take credit for this, and they deserve a small tip o’ the hat. But to truly believe that CrossFit actually practices all of these things is simply not true. The degree of dabbling changes per “box” (CrossFit lexicon for an affiliate gym), but as a community they may borrow from some of these practices in only a very small degree. We’ll never know if folks like Robb Wolf or Mark Rippetoe would have the success they do without their status within the CrossFit world, but there has been a growing culture of strength and ability that has been underneath the radar of the public for many years, and the true practitioners still thrive there.

For the brave and free-thinking amongst CF, it can be a stepping stone to a greater journey, but for the vast majority, they stop here, thinking CF is all encompassing and complete. On a physical level, this creates an incomplete athlete; on a metaphysical level it creates an incomplete athlete who believes in their completeness.  A dangerous, or at the very least, an uninspired recipe.

The goal of a typical CF workout, in fact the biggest concept within CF, is to create as much work as fast as possible.  In other words do as much in as little time as ya can. This is what their program is based on, despite their attempts to promote something broader. Sure, some of the affiliates dabble (or excel) in max effort lifting, some going as far as creating weightlifting teams and powerlifting teams (in very rare cases, strongman teams), but then they are training to do powerlifting, weightlifting or strongman… not CrossFit. CF has done a good job at convincing the general public that anything requiring a kettlebell, barbell or a pair of rings falls under the CF banner, but that simply isn’t true. A recent Facebook post showed a child pushing something across the floor. “Future CrossFitter” was the caption, yet CF is still fairly new to the prowler and car pushing activities that have been staples in the athletic and strength world for, oh, decades.

In one case, I asked a hugely respected weightlifting coach who owned a CF affiliate if they actually did CrossFit.  His response was pleasantly honest.  “No, we’re weightlifters.”

At the root of the CF experience are about 20 or so exercises, from which a handful are randomly mixed and matched into WODs (Workouts Of the Day) that are high repetition, light weight (compared to max effort work) and always timed. It’s as much about numbers as any other form of training, but with power output as the goal (work done as fast as possible), rather than muscle exhaustion or periodization.

Here’s where the scale can tip from good to bad. On one hand, the CF quest for power output does have a bit of scientific grounding for an effective way to tickle the hormones to respond positively, both in performance and in aesthetics. In other words, the concept of get it done hard but get it done fast does make the body perk up in some pretty darn good ways, with a decrease in body fat, possible increase in performance and on occasion a tad of hypertrophy, all without spending hours in the gym.

For a workout to be truly holistically effective, the eustress, or “good” stress must gross a greater outcome than distress (the bad stuff). Intensity, when high, needs to be in smaller doses, and on paper CF looks to achieve this. Massive peaks in intensity for shorter workouts seem to theoretically be the way to go, in terms of the good stress/bad stress balance. But volume and time, the key ingredients to Power, are far from the only variables in this stress equation. Here’s where CF notoriously slips up in their concept.

In the vast majority of CF workouts, technique takes a distant second to speed, and again, this is true no matter how much their propaganda tells you otherwise (and is obvious to the trained eye in almost ANY of their promotional videos, including the Reebok commercials). It is, in my experience, a very rare case to see someone attempting a CF workout with technique I’d call consistently good, safe and healthy. And although an ‘outsider,’ I’ve witnessed (even been part of) many, MANY WODs.

Can ANY workout modality lay claim to consistently great technique? Well, some more than others, and by no means does CF hold a monopoly on crappy form.  My fingertips are simply reporting what my eyeballs have seen in abundance in the CF world… we’ll deal with the other programs later.  The goal of a trainer/coach/gym should be to strive to be better, correct? Then technique needs to be put highest on that list (um, like at the top) and not get lost in the constant quest for workload.

Pat Sherwood wrote this in the CrossFit Journal:

Intensity, as we define it, is exactly equal to average power (force x distance / time). In other words, how much real work did you do and in what time period? The greater the average power, the greater the intensity. This makes it a measurable fact, not a debatable opinion. Intensity and average power are the variable most commonly associated with optimizing favorable results. Whatever you want from exercise comes faster with intensity. It’s not volume or duration or heart rate or even discomfort. Do more work in less time (without overdoing it), and you’ll get fitter faster.

That’s a simplistic and limited (and arguable!) view of fitness, and we, as individuals, might need to be thought of as greater than just a physics formula…. unless you claim robot status. And, of course, that’s an incomplete definition of intensity, which we delve into more here.

Now lets talk about those 20 or so exercises. I could hear the collective CrossFit groan a few paragraphs back when I mentioned this number. But if you click on almost any CF homepage and look at the WOD, they don’t stray too far from a surprisingly limited list. Some of them are solid foundation exercises – deadlifts, cleans, presses, etc., but others are superfluous fillers, like ball slams and wall ball throws… fun, to be sure, but there are far better choices. And all of them can easily turn into a mess when the call for volume and speed overrides the call for technique and awareness. Now screwing up a wall ball throw for 30 or more reps may have less impact on the overall damage scene then a high rep deadlift or clean nightmare, and that might barely justify its ubiquity in so many WODs. But with a better education system in place for the members (and trainers!), more challenging (and beneficial) exercises can be learned and incorporated into workouts, no matter how hard or technically challenging, without as much potential danger.

In too many cases new members get very little time to program their organic machines with the correct amount of proper practice and movement understanding before they’re thrown into fire of the group classes. In fact I’ve seen many “on ramp” programs for new members that START with WODs instead of technique and individual ability concerns, beginning the process of ramping up workload before EVEN TEACHING EXERCISE FORM! Taking a few minutes to teach a swing, or even a pushup, simply isn’t enough. Too often the instructors don’t understand proper pushup mechanics, never mind something as technical as a snatch.

Let’s look at the four tenets of training again…

Technique

Program Design

Personality

Purpose

Personality is amok in the CF coaching world, as it is in the rest of the fitness industry. It’s what keeps fitness alive as an industry. Truth is that the majority of CF coaches are FAR TOO NEW to coaching to have a great understanding of the other three aspects. Even many trainer veterans I’ve encountered that have become CF coaches after years of other fitness pursuits often come from a fitness or coaching background that has little to do with the techniques involved in coaching a CF workout. Even 2 or 3 years under your belt might not quite qualify you to be throwing a roomful of people into a movement blender. You might have the vernacular and cheerleading chops to motivate, and your sleeve of ink might make you look the part, but are you truly creating function or are you harvesting dysfunction? The frightening thing is how many coaches don’t actually know the difference.

If practice makes permanent, and it does, then the current CF model is teaching our organic machines slop, therefore making slop permanent. And that breaks machines. Workload is an important factor in fitness, but it is not the ONLY factor by far, nor does it have to be sloppy.  Volume and speed are only two ingredients to an athletic stew, and any true coach worth a damn understands that these ingredients are malleable. More of either or both is not always the best option. Often, BETTER is the most important element to making us better. More technique, not volume or speed, can add an intensity challenge and embodiment quality that has a greater effect on the human body.

Although we’ll delve into the newer branch of CF below, which is the CrossFit Games (what is dubbed the “sport of fitness”), I’ll use one example to demonstrate the point. A recent addition to this “Games” phenomenon was to create an open version that anyone can do. On a tribal level, this is about as brilliant as it gets, and on that tribal level CF will get some serious accolades in the next section of this article. On a physical level, it is a tad less than stellar. Here’s why…

In a recent video describing and demonstrating the first big open games challenge (this post being originally written in 2012), which was 7 minutes of burpees, a pair of high ranking CF competitors demonstrated how it is done. Burpees are now famous for being postural nightmares of bodies flopping to the ground and getting back up through bent over backs and loose spines being flailed around a bit like noodles being towel-whipped. Well, one of the competitors (Kristen Clever, on the left) starts off with a burpee that has control and poise, squatting into and out of the pushup with the rhythm sustained by good spine alignment and a semblance of grace. After, oh, 30 reps or so, that all disappears into slop, so the next 100 burpees (a 300+ percent increase in volume) are ugly. Now if this is a ‘sport,’ as CF claims it to be, how does it compare to most other sports in terms of execution? You wouldn’t see an elite level runner, swimmer or martial artist (or any other sport, for that matter) having the greatest percentage of their practice and execution of their sport being slop. Even if things do go ugly for these sports, the percentage of time spent doing things poorly is far LESS than the hours spent doing things with attempted accuracy, their practice always aiming at making the purity of the movements more and more permanent.

The opposite is true for CrossFit.

(let’s really talk burpees here…)

The CF exercise selection is incredibly sagittal and a little bit frontal, meaning all of their movements travel the same basic forward or upward planes of movement. CF is making a small attempt at correcting the problems related to this by adding a modicum of mobility, mostly joint-isolated mobility, to their warm ups and cool downs. Not enough, by far, with no emphasis on movement flow or complete body mobility, and despite the popular (and very constructive) MODs, I haven’t actually seen a great deal of consistency in their mobility work. Kelly Starrett, CFs mobility go-to guy, has put a lot of great info out there.  In my experiences, it seems more ignored than not, though. Bummer, because it’s good stuff.

(more brain food about mobility here…)

Anything resembling rotation or lateral movement seems to be missing as well. There are a lot of CFers holding onto a lot of tension right now, and missing some key elements to complete strength., despite their ever increasing claims of being ‘functional.’

Are they getting stronger? Yes and no.

CrossFit claims that they “forge elite athletes.” They have their own games to prove it. But look carefully… the vast majority of folks who do well in their games are former competitive athletes from other sports.  This seems to show that CrossFit doesn’t so much as forge athletes as it is more of a post-sport continuation for folks with strong histories of already being athletes. Pre-forged, ya might say. It’s a program with less specificity that appeals to folks who are already accomplished in other forms of ability.  Does this negate their claim? Not in itself, but there are far fewer stories of folks popping off the couch and achieving athletic greatness through the Crossfit protocol than there are pre-fabricated athletes simply continuing their pursuits of ability after (or sometimes during) their competitive heydays.

CrossFit itself provides the best examples of this, not just in their games, but in their new promotional videos.  A little documentary about a pair of strong rugby playing brothers, the Franks, displays these two previously strong young men being trained by a weightlifting and conditioning coach in what looks like pretty conventional athletic training, from cleans to bench presses to bicep curls. Then, with the obvious new Reebok influence everywhere (banners and flags around their gym), they opened a CrossFit gym.  Why? Did they train that way to get their elite strength and conditioning?  No, their dad told them about it (and it wouldn’t be surprising if the new Reebok CrossFit marketing arm actually approached him, not the other way around).

So can they credit CrossFit with any of their on-field prowess or in-gym strength or overall athleticism? Heck no. Check back in a year or two and see if any of these things have improved (I did, and nope).  Then CF can be evaluated a bit better, but even then, as they say in the video, it’s a tool (not the toolbox), it’s icing on the cake (not the full meal). They ‘throw it in their bag’ along with all their other training and practice. Not even this video, produced by CrossFit, will call it a complete program.

As mentioned, CF has the potential to be a great tool, and in the hands of a wise practitioner, it is.  But it is just that… a tool.  Not the tool BOX. There are big gaping holes in its program design, or lack thereof (unfortunately, being able to scale a WOD is not really ‘program design,’ despite this claim made in an article recently written by a box owner.) that need to be addressed, but at the rate their popularity grows, the model is too stretched for serious change at this point. There are a lot of accusations currently levied at CrossFit about being dangerous, mostly for the reasons I’ve mentioned. Again, as a tool wielded by wisdom and embodiment, CF, as part of a holistic program, has merit and could be free from danger. But there is too much momentum pushing from the wrong direction to change its current flow away from anything resembling holistic fitness.

So the bottom line is that on a physical level, CF has some small successes if we start doing a box-by-box evaluation. But with boxes popping up like weeds (3,400 and counting when I first wrote this, but now approaching 10,000), the program has to be seen as a whole, and the prognosis ain’t pretty.

 

TRAINING FOR WARRIORS

Tools: oh, just about anything, or nothing at all except bodyweight.

Training For Warriors seems to be less ‘program’ and more motivational concept. It is a simple and malleable program design model with freedom for some creativity. But the gooey center of TFW is  more about the motivation TO move. Martin Rooney, the principle force behind TFW, has done the work. He comes from the physical culture roots of traveling, learning, experiencing and applying, which preceded  this age of wiki-fitness and YouTube expertise. He’s been through what we call the Full Circle, which the majority of new school coaches simply don’t understand.

It would be easy to throw together a few movements and call it TFW. Their ‘Hurricane’ is like CF’s WOD, just some exercises thrown together into a circuit. Simple. But as anyone who has played this game knows, simple doesn’t mean easy. That’s the TFW way, work hard and then work harder. Don’t stop until you’re done, not when you think you’re done. Wait… did I say it would be easy to create a TFW workout? With a modicum of creativity, it would be, and that’s the point. With experience and application, the creativity becomes second nature, but the modern physical culture movement is starting to parallel the fitness industrial complex in the giant reliance on other people’s ideas and the pseudo-creativity of pointless randomness and lack of foresight. TFW attempts to counter this a bit by not spoon feeding entire programs to you and also imparting the understanding that there better be goals in place to ensure you’re getting somewhere.

I’ve quoted Bruce Lee with frequency in his concept of the application of ideas, of taking what works and discarding what doesn’t.   In a recent review of TFW by UK Physical Culturist Rannoch Donald, Martin Rooney is found to have similar ideas.

“…TFW asks that you:

  • Research your own experience for the truth.
  • Absorb what is useful.
  • Reject what is useless.
  • Add what is specifically your own.

From this direct, personal and experiential approach you can begin to create a foundation for sustainable practice and progress. Unfortunately, many people get stuck in the research phase. TFW requires application, without putting yourself in the driver seat all you are doing is looking at the map.”

As for the workouts themselves, you’re limited only to your imagination, and although this can lead to something that looks like barely organized chaos, there is method here, not complete randomness. In many of the workouts there is a slightly baffling combination of athleticism and isolation work. The vindication of the single joint movements is, perhaps, to bring up weaknesses that are common amongst fighters, and they probably wouldn’t hurt the general population as well. But throwing them into a fast paced combo unfortunately compromises form, and therefore the vindication. But technique and workload can be bedfellows, and TFW should be credited with showing more concern about proper execution of movements than many other programs. But there might be better choices than some of the isolation moves that seem scattered around the combos.

Truth be told, it isn’t hard to create a tough workout, a workout that will push people’s physical limits. A trained monkey can throw a handful of exercises together and hit a stopwatch. That’s why the modern trends of CF, bootcamps and MMA conditioning don’t impress me. TFW, though, purposely adds some components that take the body in directions it needs to go, and does have the potential to bring up some weaknesses.  Mobility and strength beyond the sagittal plane do play an important role in the TFW program.

There doesn’t seem to be a huge focus on max force development, but most programs that have roots in martial arts seem keen on more GPP (general physical preparedness), less MFD. It isn’t completely absent in TFW though. Heck, Rooney recently competed in a powerlifting meet.

There is also a considerable amount of isolation training, which, although might have some importance in some cases, might want to be a bit lower on the priority list.  But, again, building something that could be considered a TFW workout might only be limited to what you feel like creating. Quality control is preached, but in some of the TFW workouts I’ve witnessed, might need to be emphasized even more.

Granted, I don’t know much about their programming, mostly because I don’t see any. Maybe I have to pay the big bucks to learn how to put it all together, but through all the motivation, I’m not quite sure how a TFWer is supposed to get from point A to point B,C, or D.

 

RMAX

Tools: Clubbells, kettlebells, rings, parallettes, boxes, dumbbells

Physically, RMAX, which is basically the platform for the ideas of a man named Scott Sonnon, has some of the best information out there when it comes to certain aspects of force development, but then has huge gaping holes in other aspects. You’ll find few programs that can rival the output of Scott’s brain and body when it comes to movements that promote flow and graceful speed, directly helpful for certain sports such as most fighting arts, and conceptually helpful for almost anything else in terms of longevity and injury prevention. With emphasis on range of motion and rotation, Sonnon pontificates, with a great deal of accuracy, the promotion of joint longevity and health. To his credit, the word ‘health’ is used a great deal in his writings, far more than any other program mentioned here, and his concept of ‘freedom of movement’ is something almost ignored by the workload overkill or intensity bombardment of other modalities like CrossFit or by programs like Westside Barbell. In fact Sonnon’s TactFit program was his answer to CrossFit, who he decided to not be associated with due to their lack of emphasis on actual health, and over-emphasis on redundant joint movements and tension pattern potential (well, there may be debate on who turned away from who, but the outcome is still the same).

RMAX was ground zero for the modern leverage club movement, which, although still a very small subculture in the fitness world, is one that I find to be extremely important. In fact the RMAX toolbox is pretty small, eschewing barbells and dumbbells (mostly) for Clubbells™  (which is their trademarked name… and don’t you forget it, or they will contact you pretty darn quickly and remind you), kettlebells, parallettes, rings, pull-up bars and boxes. Oh, and the body, which is their main tool.

The movements chosen with these tools range from some of the basics (pull-ups, box jumps) to a host of variations, usually involving a great deal of springiness and an almost acrobatic awareness of stretch reflex, elasticity and rotation. Technique is a huge priority, more so than most programs. Hey, if movement in many directions is a key element of what you preach, ‘twould behoove you to teach it properly. RMAX understands this well.

The hole in the program, which they argue is potentially dangerous and therefore to be avoided, is max force development training, a part of the spectrum of strength that I find to have benefit to everyone. It may seem like a small exclusion, but I consider it a pretty big void, one that, if added in, would create a very potent program. With the exclusion of max force development also comes the disappearance of the traditional foundation movements, squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc., with the traditional tool: the barbell. My love of the barbell is not just personal preference, but an acceptance of the tool as probably the best way to progressively load the body, strengthening the spine, and creating good, solid foundational power and strength. The exclusion of that is, as I’ve mentioned, leaves a chasm of potential strength.

 

WESTSIDE BARBELL CLUB

Tools: barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, sleds, some machines

Elite Powerlifting clubs like Westside Barbell Club are geared towards one thing: big numbers. This is what I call gym lifting, which is simply lifting to get good at lifting.  Trying to excel at being in the gym and on the competition platform. As impressive as the big numbers might be, the mentality behind them often has little transfer to the rest of the world, or even their own Tribe. Between the gear (powerlifting suits and bench shirts) and the “gear” (enough drugs to kill a smaller man), the quest for the bigger lift leaves little concern for health, longevity or on occasion, even other people.

This is the danger of blind specialization. It can happen with any sport, but we’ll use these tribes of the elite powerlifter to highlight it.

This should be prefaced with some qualifications. I’ve been in the powerlifting world about 14 years now, as a competitor, judge, team captain and meet host. Bodytribe hllds two meets a year through the APA for over a decade. In the last few years we decided to make our meets completely RAW, meaning no squat suits or bench shirts, the common gear allowed in most meets these days. We went raw because my gym and our team have always been raw (and drug-free), and we thought our meets should reflect our training ideals.

We also thought this would shrink our meet size considerably, making it more like an in-house meet. We were wrong… our meets more than doubled in size.  It was refreshing to know that there were growing numbers of folks who just wanted to lift against gravity without the aid of equipment.

My gym uses powerlifting (and weightlifting, but we’ll get to that in part II), as one of our tools for personal empowerment. An increase of max force development is one of many indicators for individual improvement, but it is also something that makes us stronger to conquer our demons, help our tribe and get out and play.  We squat to better ourselves beyond the gym, not just in the gym. And, despite the contradictions between our style and Westside’s, we have found that even a world that different from ours has many lessons to teach.

Westside and their offspring, the many systems they inspired, focus on the big three, Squats, Bench Press and Deadlifts, and generally base their supplemental movement choices on supporting these lifts. The barbell is the biggest tool of choice, as it is the centerpiece of their sport, but you will also find dumbbells and kettlebells and even the occasional machine.

I’ll be blunt. Range of motion is limited to only what is required for the sport of powerlifting. In other words, squats will barely break parallel and overhead presses are only done by those who can (there is often so much shoulder tightness in these lifters that getting the arms over the head is sometimes a greater challenge than benching 600 pounds). Mobility is practically frowned upon and injuries are just a way of life. Healthy? You won’t find that word in their promo material.

But despite the extreme nature of their sport, they have to at least try to make it to the competition platform, and an injured lifter is not a winning lifter. Despite accepting injuries as a required byproduct, there is still a considerable amount of technique and supplemental work in the program to either recover from, or try to avoid, pulled muscles and popped body bits. A bevy of practical movements to bring up weaknesses, train through sticking points or even create hypertrophy to add some muscle to potentially aid in the lifts are available to anyone who craves the knowledge. Exercises that can continue the strengthening process while working around or rehabbing an injury are bountiful as well. In fact, Westside deserves credit for introducing the strength culture to a gigantic cache of techniques. Louie Simmons, the grand sensei of powerlifting who runs Westside, has probably had more techniques copied or stolen from him than most folks have in their entire palate. Ever used a band in any of your lifting? Louie and Co. were the epicenter for the modern popularity of bands and chains.

The extreme American powerlifting gym has modified the big three lifts into technical proficiency that is meant to move the most weight.  On one hand, this could translate to a safer lift, since big numbers mean move it correctly or be crushed. On the other hand, it means reducing the range of motion. The extreme powerlifting squat, despite the hype, doesn’t translate directly to other movements. The extremely wide stance and limited range of motion don’t resemble much else in the sporting world. BUT indirectly, the extreme potential to load the hips and legs with a great deal of weight could, well, make those muscles bigger and stronger. But what are the benefits versus risks?

______________________________________________

This is part one of a collection of reviews about a handful of the groovy programs offered within our physical culture these days. Even though it is part one, it is still broken into 4 separate posts, so feel free to click below to shoot over to any of the other pages.

Intro
Physical (you are currently here)
Next Post: Metaphysical
Tribe and Integrity

 

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