Back To Basics: Strength 101

Sometimes it's tough to come up with new material for these posts. I'm trying to think "What's new? What's exciting? What haven't we spoken about before?"

Inevitably, I always come back to the same thought - "The basics are the basics for a reason. We talk about the basics because others talk about the new and the shiny. We focus on long-term problems that have long-term solutions."

It's easy to get caught up in the latest science, the newest book and what the Instagram expert said. But the fact of the matter is, strength is simple. The more fluff you cut out the better.

I just opened up Starting Strength by Mark Rippetoe - it's a classic in the S&C industry. Early in the book he explains the importance of barbell work then goes on to elaborate on the main lifts - squat, press, deadlift, bench press and power clean.

"Barbells, and the primary exercises we use them to do, are far superior to any other training tools that have ever been devised. Properly performed, full-range-of-motion barbell exercises are essentially the functional expression of human skeletal and the muscular anatomy under a load... Barbells allow weight to be moved in exactly the way the body is designed to move it, since every aspect of the movement is determined by the body."

- Mark Rippetoe

He goes on to talk about the drawbacks of using machines at the gym - like how out in nature the quadriceps never work in isolation to the hamstrings, so why do we train leg extensions?

The reason I liked picking up this book is because it's a reminder to stick to what moves the needle. You can get supremely strong, and supremely athletic with nothing but a barbell and plates.

If I was starting out on my S&C journey again here's what I would do:

  • Buy a squat rack with a multi-grip chin-up bar and a bench.

  • Buy a barbell and set of plates.

  • Get a coach to teach me the movements Mark outlined above: movements as well as the pull-up, bench pull and split squat.

  • Spend 3 years doing nothing but 5x5 on these lifts.

  • Hone technique over load and use the same weights for a month before making a 2.5 to 5kg jump.

This is also what I'd recommend to any junior athlete or person getting into the industry.

The simpler you can make it the better. You could spend under a grand getting all of that gear and it would last a lifetime.

As you get stronger you can play around with 3x3's and 5x2's.

You don't need much variety. You need to nail the basics (over and over and over again). That is how you get strong.



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