Thursday, 14 March 2013

Building Men on Jungle Gyms

I recently read an article on whether or not bodyweight training is effective for building muscle.  I have heard this time and time again, I have been hammered, battled and disputed on this very subject.

Besides science proving that it does, besides the hundreds of Internet based blogs and millions of books by some of the top strength coaches in the world recommending it, besides the genuine blatant truth of it. I have tried and tested it.

I have been a contender of the bar for a few years now and have turned boys into men using their bodies as their gyms.  Facing the ground with nothing but your own weight is perceived by many as child's play, until they thrown into challenging push ups and pull ups like its day one at military base.

Bodyweight training is an effective muscle builder, if you know what you doing, or your coach knows what they doing.  A fly by night trainer dishing out ugly pull ups and thousands of push ups with no knowledge of programming and progression is just going to waste your training time and money.

I don't care if you can do 40 chin ups and 100 push ups, if you want to hit those muscle fibres with the most growth potential and gain size and strength you need the correct loading and tension.

Military push ups become easy, your body adapts to the stress and you are no longer challenging your body - you are no longer gaining in strength or size.  You need to present a new challenge. What most don't realize is that bodyweight training is tough and demanding as hell.  It is much easier to walk into a gym and move from a 40kg dumbbell to a 45kg weight to progress those rows than it is to go from a push up, to a pike to a handstand push up.  These methodologies require patience and discipline.

Strength training whether under the barbell or hanging from the bar demands intelligent training, it requires programming based on rep manipulation, resistance, force, progressive loading etc, not a coach barking orders for random reps and obscure exercise combinations.

Do not be afraid to put the weight down and challenge the bars in fear of losing hard gained muscle, this method of training will keep you strong and add significant mass to your size with correct training and guidance.  Do not be afraid of only using this style of training to reach your physical goals - the gains speak for themselves

Bodyweight training builds strong lean muscle, it is healthy on the joints, it allows for a full range of motion and can be performed everyday.

I have clients that have spent their lives weight lifting and are tending the bars with lifting induced injuries, with every rep and every set, their ligament, tendon and joint strength has improved and that carry over to the weight room has been remarkable.

Bodyweight training is personally my preferred method of building strength, endurance and size. Don't get me wrong, I love the pathos of lifting a heavy weighted barbell, there is possibly nothing more empowering than the feeling of moving something over twice your bodyweight off the ground, but the challenge of bodyweight training stimulates your mind.  That feeling of achieving a movement that has taken months to perfect, facing a fear and developing the strength to get you there.  That moment, that feeling, that achievement is momentous and pivotal.

At the end of the day combining the two methodologies for building muscle and size is in my views thee most effective.

Does bodyweight training build muscle?  Hell yes

Monday, 04 March 2013

Justification Nation

-  A guest post by Terence Mitchell

We are living in a world were many people constantly feel the need to justify their failures, short falls, unhappiness, lack of motivation, lack of progress and just about any personal issue they can think of.  Myself and a good friend recently coined the term ‘Justification Nation‘ and I believe that is exactly the kind of ‘nation’ most of us are living in.

I get it. We all mess up, I mess up, you mess up, shit gets messed up.  But does every single action and subsequent reaction need a thorough justification? Does it really?  Could we all not learn to own our failures and weaknesses? Then once we take ownership, take responsibility and then commit to do something about it?

Not too long ago I was a resident of Justification Nation. In all my years of lifting, I’ve had an ongoing hate/hate relationship with the barbell bench press (hate/hate because there was NO love) As a result of old injuries from various sports in my younger years, my ability to bench press pain free was severely hindered and before I realized it I was justifying to all who would listen as to why I was so awful at the bench press. 

One day I realized what I was doing and feared the monster I had created.  The first thing I did was ‘own’ my weakness.  I really did not want to become one of the guys who I always seemed to meet who ‘if it weren’t for this or that, would be so incredibly strong’ so without further ado I accepted whole heartily that I sucked and needed a plan.

I stopped justifying, almost overnight.  I told people my shoulders had never been injured and that I was just weak and pathetic and needed to fix my bench press or hand in my man card, eat soy and watch the entire 5 seasons of ‘Glee’ back to back.  So I literally began benching with an empty bar and started from scratch. 

I began implementing advice from powerlifting coaches and reading all I could about correct set up and bench technique as well as correct assistance and rehab exercises.

But what really happened?

1.  In the words of Jamie Lewis I “stopped bitching and started benching“ 
2.  I owned my weakness.  If you tell someone you weak and you suck they can’t really call you out can they?
3.  I began taking responsibility.
4.  Because of point 3, I began educating myself, finding out what works, what does not. I found a way to set up correctly, use a technique that did not cause any shoulder impingement's or pain.
5.  By no longer justifying failure I was now making room for future success.

So what are you justifying? Do you think that your own unique condition makes you a special snow flake? Are you the only person who is ‘busy’ during the day, are you the only person who has even been injured? Are you the only one who ‘finds its such a mission to eat correctly’? I got news for you, you are not.

Move far away from Justification Nation, Its a slippery slope and before you know it, it could be too late to make a change.