Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Most Basic Of The Basic - By Jim Duggan

      One of the most fundamental rules of building strength is the importance of performing basic exercises.  Hard, heavy work on the basics is the foundation on which any sensible strength program is built.  If your goal is to become bigger and stronger, then you must "pay your dues" by devoting a lot of time and hard work on the basic movements.  The basics cannot be overlooked, or overstated.  In order to get stronger, there is simply no alternative.  

     For those who are just beginning, you might be asking "What are the basic exercises?"  The answer is simple.  Basic exercises are those that target the large muscle groups.  Some examples are Squats, Bench Presses, Deadlifts, and Military Presses.  As opposed to isolation movements, these magnificent exercises bring the most muscle groups into play.  Consequently, and this is very important, the basics allow you to use heavy weights.  

     While I listed several basic exercises in the previous paragraph, I would like to mention one movement in particular.  The Deadlift.  The most basic and simple test of overall body strength.  An excellent exercise, as well as a competitive lift.  Any trainee who wishes to get stronger should include some form of deadlifting in their training program.  And, make no mistake, there is no shortage of Deadlift variations to include in your program.  Regular Deadlifts, stiff-leg Deadlifts, Deadlifts off a block ( deficit Deadlifts), partial Deadlifts to name just a few.  There are also a number of specialty bars today that can be found in any commercial training facility.  Special Deadlift Bars, Trap Bars, competition bars, Open Trap Bars.  In other words, because of the many variations in exercises and equipment, there is absolutely NO reason to go stale, or lose interest in this wonderful exercise.  When it comes to the Deadlift, variety is the spice of life.

     When I say that there are special Deadlift Bars available, these bars are longer, and have more "give" than a regular  competition bar.  This "give" or "bend" allows one to use heavier weights.  You might have seen these bars in use recently.  Tere have been several professional Strongmen who have attempted "world records" using these bars.  Personally, I view most of these "records" with a healthy dose of cynicism.  Most Deadlifts that are performed in a strongman contest would never get passed in a sanctioned powerlifting contest.  In a strongman contest, lifting straps are permitted, as is hitching, or dragging the bar up the thighs.  I'm not denying that these ( mostly steroid fueled) Strongmen are brutally strong, but if you set out to accomplish something, then do it right. Or don't do it at all.

     Getting back to the basics of the Deadlift, some of my favorite deadlift workouts recently involve nothing more than a York 5' exercise bar, utilizing standard plates.  I was introduced to this method of Deadlifting by my friend Steve Weiner.  Steve is a professional performing Strongman who happens to hold the World record for bending frying pans, horseshoes, and other steel items.  He also has one of the best-equipped home gyms anywhere.  He has a great collection of vintage Iron, York weights, classic machines, heavy stones, and a heavy-duty power rack.  While we try to train together as often as possible, our favorite exercise is, you guessed it, the Deadlift.  We just happen to share a great respect for this magnificent exercise.  During one of our training sessions, our Deadlift workout consisted of five sets of the three reps on the standard barbell.  That's it.  No specialty bar. No fancy rep scheme. Just five heavy sets of three.

     Because of its short length, there is absolutely no "give" or "bend" in the standard bar.  The initial pull off he floor is pure, unassisted power.  And while we may be using less weight with this standard bar, the strength that accrues from using a short bar is real, and not a gimmick.  Incidentally, the soreness we felt the following day indicated to us that we did, indeed, work hard.  And heavy.

     So, a heavy, basic exercise, using a simple rep scheme, on the most basic piece of equipment available.  I can't think of a way to make it any more basic than that. Or any more effective either.

Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me: bobwhelan@naturalstrength.com
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