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2 things I know about strength

I’m often accused or rambling a bit, so I’m going to make this post very specific and define the parameters of what I’m talking about very clearly from the start:

Two things this post deals with:
1. Strength which can only be expressed in a single context is not strength in any other context
2. You don’t need to be very strong

By the way, I think rambling is the best thing in the world. The best conversations are the rambling “how did we get here?” ones. But I’m rambling. I can take feedback. I’ll stick to the point.

1. Strength which can only be expressed in a single context is not strength in any other context

Okay, what do I mean by this? This is all about the body in balance. place the average gym going male on a bench press and he’ll give you a reasonable press, maybe even a strong one. Now, offset his grip by one or two inches on one side, and he will be instantly weaker. This is natural.

Now, assume that the bench is the cornerstone of your upper body training routine (which it likely is). Again, this is fine. But what we really want is for our bench to have some carryover to our sport. There are a number of scenarios where this will not happen:

A. You lack adequate flexibility and mobility through your shoulders and spine to express your strength in any other plane.
There you are, pushing guys away from you no problem, but once you move your arms overhead, you feel like someone has switched your strength off. Likewise, once you get turned or twisted, you”re done.

B. You can push but not pull.
You’ve spent a long time getting your bench up, but you’ve forgotten that you have a back. You should be able to do a minimum of 8 dead hang pull ups if you’re an adult human male. If you can’t, and you can bench 1 and a half times your bodyweight- we’ve got a problem.

C. One is the loneliest number.
Your single limb strength doesn’t quite add up. The barbell is good, but there’s a whole lot more benefit to using single arm presses and pulls than just upping your bench.

D. You’re just too damn slow
You’ve failed to do any power work to go along with your beastly bench press. Your chesticles are broad, but you move them veeeery slowly.

E. You are fat.
You’re not fit enough to express your strength for more than a couple of minutes of game time.

So you’ve increased your number, but you haven’t thought about how this will transfer to the pitch, cage, ring, or court. Which was the idea of going to the gym in the first place, idiot. You can substitute bench for squat, deadlift and so on.

Dan John says “The Goal is to keep The Goal, The Goal”. I like that one. If I was your coach (and maybe I am), your strength is only impressive to me when you can use it for something useful.

2. You don’t need to be very strong

If you’re getting chucked around the place, it might not be because you’re weak, it might also be because you’re not very good yet. A lot of people assume they’re being outpowered when in fact they’re just being out-techniqued. You should always try to improve your general strength, but remember that there comes a point when being in the gym is a negative and draws from your learning on the mat, field, or court.

I’m 37 this week, and I’m not any stronger than I was when i was 27. It doesn’t bother me that my bench press hasn’t gone through the roof, or that I don’t double bodyweight squat. My goal is to be the best I can be on the mat. The gym helps me by keeping me injury free and strong enough to carry out my techniques. In fact, I know guys who have deliberately dropped their lifting so as not to rely on their strength to carry them in training.

Done! With no rambling. If you’d like to suggest a topic for a blog, you can get me on facebook


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