Thursday, July 16, 2015

Same ol' song and dance, my friend

This blog has written numerous times throughout the years about the benefits and virtues of employing compound, multi-joint exercises to most effectively strengthen the entire body, keep body composition favorable, and for the general purposes of badassery.

Well...I'm going to do it again. 

Here's the thing about training with weights: for as much as exercise varies between individuals due to goal specifics, limb lengths, previous injury, also has an equal number of commonalities between most trainees.

Allow me to explain before any and all confusion, anger, or Internet-based disagreement begins...

People come to me and my colleagues with a variety of goals and backgrounds, this is no secret. I have elderly clients looking to maintain functional movement of their bodies and bone density. I have young athletes looking to improve their body to gain an advantage on the field or rink. I have 40-something school teachers who are looking to lose unwanted body fat for summer break. There's people looking to improve their marathon time, compete in powerlifting, step on a bodybuilding stage, and those that simply need to burn off some calories from the previous evenings wine consumption.

Their injury and health histories vary, their goals are similar in that they want to improve their physical self in one way or another, but vary in specifics. Their bodies are built differently from limb lengths to body fat levels to muscle fiber types, and even the mental aspect of motivation and pain tolerance.

But here's the thing - every one of these people can benefit from having a stronger body. One that can effectively move itself and external objects through its environment, whatever that may be. Muscle. They need muscle to be strong and keep their metabolism in good standing. And the best way of accomplishing this relatively universal goal is through compound exercises. Those that use multiple joints in one movement, thus activating and strengthening the most muscle mass. Athletic bang for your buck, if you will.

Take two runners in a 5k race, for example. Lets assume similar proportions and health history. 2 females, age 37, weight around 130 at 5'6", neither having any malfunctioning joints. Runner 1 can squat 115 lbs. Runner 2 can squat 250. Who wins the race? My money is on number 2. Every time. 

Lets play again. Two older males with negligible health concerns work on a farm. One can deadlift 555 lbs, the other doesn't use the gym at all. One farmer can load a truck full of hay bales on his own, feed the livestock and move on to firewood detail before the end of the day. The other needs to call for assistance on each task - who is going to be more efficient and productive? Stronger farmer. All year long.

See the pattern?

The basics are basics for a reason - they work to build muscle and strengthen bodies. Squats, deadlifts, rows, presses, pull-ups, lunges, planks. They work to train athletes, soccer moms, office workers, and grocery clerks. Now, some people cannot do all of these, and partial ROM movements, stance and grip variations, and machine substitutes are all viable options to keep anybody training and improving their body, but in a general sense, those movements are done because they work. They benefit just about anybody who is able to perform them, whether in an individual training session, a sports team training facility, a group fitness class, or at home in the garage.

Steve Decker

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