December 2, 2012
The Eldorado of Strength Training

While making an athlete strong for his sport standards through specific strength training is nothing new, something is the golden pot of all strength training. You must have noticed it if you’re into reading strength training books or articles scattered through the web by now… yeah, this thing is making a person (not an athlete) strong for life. Making a person strong enough for all tasks that she may come across in her life. Humans are weak living beings, we’re going to keep trying this until our extinction. We will never accept that we are weak. At least, I can assure you that I won’t.

"That’s the point of CrossFit!" A person familiar with CrossFit reading this would shout immediatly. You know, I’m into CrossFit as well, but is it the compilation of the best there is for real world strength really? CrossFit is amazing, no doubt, but I feel like it is more like overall fitness directed towards sports training, not real world strength. At least, not so much. There is some transfer of strength from sports training to real world situations of course (hell, there’s transfer of strength from muscle isolation/bodybuilding exercises to real life situations!) and CrossFit benefits from that, but I don’t think that’s the best we can do for RWS (real world strength; to keep it short). I’m not going to go in depth and diss CrossFit here because as I said, I like it a lot. I’m just going to mention some aspects, why they help with RWS better and you will know that some of them are not present in CrossFit and no other strength training program available make use of all of them as well.

- Bodyweight training: And when I say “bodyweight training” I refer to everything related to bodyweight strength, not just push ups, pull ups and muscle ups. I mean the isometric holds (on the ground and rings), tumbling, rope climbing, some (just some of them, because some others are just fancy and do not are functional nor make you stronger) movements of the “new” (is not so new at all, but its boom happened recently) sport of bar calisthenics and anything gymnastics really. Why? Being able to untangle your body and hold your body mass weight in various different positions plus having full control over it should be the core of all RWS training programs. You may argue that you’re able to lift much more than your body mass weight using a barbell and that’s awesome, but to what extension? Can you get the bar with 100% RM of your deadlift overhead? Can you still maintain your 100% RM if the grip is wider? The point is, the only fixed form of strength is bodyweight strength. It transfers itselft to other bodyweight tasks equally (depending if it’s a pull-push task of course), while barbell relies too much on things like stance, grip and specific exercise. I may write more about this later (hell, I’d need a whole book to write everything I think about this), maybe not. But for now I’ll just recommend Steven Low’s Overcoming Gravity book. My whole point regarding bodyweight strength is there.

- Plyometrics: Because it develops power and has exercises capable of developing the height of your vertical jump. Functional enough for you?

- Sandbag training: It can emulate perfectly any form of carrying weights in real life situations. From picking up and carrying a wounded person or log on your back to carrying a heavy box in your arms. Seriously, sandbag training should be on all strength training programs. Period. If you want a plus, throw atlas stones training in there and you’re golden.

- Grip strength: It can help you with all sorts of things, since you use your hands everytime you apply upper body strength. For example, I can mention it helps you opening door handles, bottles and crushing things with your hands. Grip strength should never be neglected.

- Tire flipping:  Because it’s lifting a heavy thing with almost no grip and also pushing them. For maximum effect, try lifting and flipping something even heavier than a tractor tire.

-Sled drag/push: For maximum effect, try dragging and pushing a car. (I don’t really need to explain this point, do I?)

I WOULD mention kettlebells if I had experience enough with them, but I don’t. However they do feel like a very good tool for developing real life conditioning and strength. Check them. I also may be forgetting about tools I never used such as indian clubs… this whole post is based on what I’ve already used only.

There’s some skills that I’d like to mention as well. They’re not really fitness training, they’re other sports (or related to sports), that’s why I’m referring to them as “skills”

- Wrestling: Bodyweight brute force plus self defense value.

- A good punch/kick: It doesn’t really need to be something associated with any martial art or combat sport, just make sure you have a good punch and a good kick. It may be useful to save your ass in various situations. Like kicking in a locked door or using your hands as a hammer (you thought I was talking about self defense only, huh)

- Parkour: Learning to overcome obstacles is always a good one.

- Bouldering/rock climbing: Perhaps the most effective way of developing RWS.

- Swimming: Oh, so you’re all for fitness training and assuming that you’ve read this whole post, you’re at least interested in RWS, but… you don’t know how to swim yet? What the hell?

Leave your feedback in replies or notes, as RWS junkie I’d love to read them.

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