Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Building Power Without The Powerlifts - By Jim Duggan

      The purpose of lifting weights is to become stronger and build muscle.  Progressive resistance. Strength training.  Hoisting the steel.  Call it what you want, but I am glad to contribute to a website that is devoted to building strength and getting stronger.  Years ago, Whelan Strength Training put out a t-shirt that said:  "No toning.  No chrome.  No bull.  Just the workout of your life!"  I am proud to say that I still have the shirt, because it encapsulates a very basic training philosophy.  A philosophy that I was introduced to when I first began training.  

     Anyone reading these words is interested in becoming stronger.  Pumpers and toners can go elsewhere.  So can steroid users.  "Natural strength" means just what it says.  If you are interested in drug-free strength training, then keep on reading.  

     One of the most popular ways to become stronger is to dedicate yourself to the three powerlifts.  Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift.  Powerlifting has been described as the sport of super strength.  But in addition to being competitive lifts, Squats, Bench Presses and Deadlifts are excellent exercises for developing great strength.  In other words, you do not need to be a competitive powerlifter in order to reap the benefits of these wonderful exercises.  And you certainly do not need to perform endless sets of near-maximal poundages either.  High-rep Squats and Deadlifts have long been used to build strength and increase muscle mass.  

     What if you are a powerlifter who wants to take a break from the three Powerlifts?  What if you don't have access to a power rack or heavy-duty flat bench?  Or what if you want to build overall body strength with a minimum of equipment?  The last two questions are of particular importance lately since many gyms have closed due to the ongoing pandemic.  

     I'm going to list some movements that will help develop greater overall body strength.  Before I go any further, I  want to stress that heavy Squats and Deadlifts are crucial to building serious strength.  The last thing I want to do is diminish the value of these two great movements.  Indeed, any strength-training program that does not include some variation of these movements is misguided at best.  However, if you'd like to try a change of pace and/or add variety to your workouts, then give the following exercises a try.  

     1) High Pulls.  Various pulling movements have been a staple of Olympic weightlifters for years.  Any trainee wishing to increase his/her back strength and pulling power can benefit from High Pulls.  The good thing about Pulls is that you can do them in a variety of ways, thereby preventing boredom and staleness.  You can use a "clean grip," or or you can take a very wide spacing and do "snatch grip" pulls.  You can also vary the exercise by doing them from the floor, off blocks, or from various heights from inside a power rack.  I remember reading old Strength and Health magazines and seeing pictures of Norbert Schemansky doing heavy pulls from various heights.  If you have any doubts as to the effectiveness of High Pulls, kindly read about Mr. Schemansky and his accomplishments.  

     2) One-Arm Clean and press.  Cleaning a heavy dumbbell to your shoulder and pressing it over head is an excellent way to add strength and size to your shoulders.  The important thing to remember is to always use good form.  Do not turn it into a Bent Press.  Maintain a straight back, keep your forearm vertical at the start of the press, and stay as upright as possible.  No leaning.  

     3)  One-Arm High Pull.  Placing a DB between your feet, with knees bent and hips lower than your shoulders, keep your head up and drive with your legs and pull the DB up to shoulder level.  At the completion of the rep, you can lower the dumbbell all the way to the floor, or you can make it more difficult and prevent the dumbbell from touching the floor between reps.  

     4) One -Arm Swing.  Place a DB between your feet and simply swing it between your legs, then drive yourself forward "swinging" the DB up to about the height of your head.  You can also do a two-hand version of this exercise.  Again, starting with the DB between your feet, but this time grasp it with both hands.  If you're willing to make a small investment in a quality piece of equipment, Sorinex Equipment sells a "Hungarian Core Blaster" that will make the two-handed swing much easier.  I purchased one years ago and have found it to be a useful exercise.  

     5)  One-Arm Dumbbell Snatch.  Simply grab a DB with your feet about shoulder-width apart (or slightly wider).  Bend your knees, drive with your hips and pull the DB as high as you can, while at the same time straightening your knees.  Keep the DB close to your body and rotate your elbow under the weight,then lock out your arm.  

     Since these exercises are definitely NOT isolation movements, you will feel soreness throughout your body, especially your back ( upper and lower ), shoulder girdle, abdomen, and the muscles of your "core."  These are not pumping exercises , although you can utilize high reps when performing them.  That's another advantage of these movements.  You can use any variety of rep schemes and still make gains.  

     If you're looking for a change of pace, while building greater overall body power, give some of these exercises a try.  






Editor's Note: Great Article Jim as always. 




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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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