We all wish we could return to our glory days with the knowledge we’ve since gained. Imagine being a strength coach as an adult and having to recall the asinine weight training you wasted your time with from probably 16 until too far into my early 20’s. I missed my opportunity to build a solid base of strength in favor of standing with my back against the wall to isolate the biceps and maximize the pump. Had I only known that a healthy dose of pullups and pushups accompanied by squats and sprints would have provided size and strength I never achieved through the beach muscle bullshit in which I invested.
Here’s a message to the youth (and their well meaning parents):
BYPASS BI’s AND TRI’s AND BUILD GLOBAL STRENGTH
Use simple compound movements such as pullups, inverted rows, pushups, lunges, and squats.
First use isometrics (positional holds) to obtain command of the often difficult positions these exercises require instead of rushing through partial or sloppy reps.
Next use eccentrics (controlled movement with gravity like a squat, pushup, or pullup lowering executed at a very slow pace) to gain strength through the full range of motion.
Then combine or follow eccentric training with assisted versions of the movements to teach the body the contractile component of these movements without having to cheat the reps and compromise position.
Finally combine the strengths earned through isometrics, eccentrics, and assisted movements to execute these exercises unassisted.
Many coaches love the barbell for rapid strength development. While I certainly don’t disagree with its effectiveness, athletes must EARN THE RIGHT to use the barbell by demonstrating the strength and coordination necessary to manipulate their own body weight. I wouldn’t put cargo on a boat that doesn’t stay afloat when empty and I won’t add external load to an athlete who doesn’t have strength developed from the inside out. That’s a recipe for injury and falsely inflated ego, both consequences a strength coach should never be responsible for creating. Quality of movement always trumps volume and intensity.
Giving isolation exercises to youth athletes is like giving them dessert before they’ve had their dinner. They might provide instant gratification but lack the long term benefits offered by the meat and veggies of compound strength movements. Focus on global strength developed from the inside out (core before appendages) by using a progressive approach to compound body weight movements.
Need proof? Check out the guns and strength of Martin Rooney’s (www.trainingforwarriors.com) daughter: