Movement Mercy

If there is anything I like as much as picking up heavy shit, it’s dropping heavy beats.  According to my mom, I used carrots as drumsticks when I was in a highchair, and I do my best to have drumsticks in my hand at least once a day.  A few days ago, the Meinl cymbal company shared a video of one of their sponsored drummers, Luke Holland, on the ‘Book. .  I had time to watch several of his videos, and came across this tune:

Homeboy can play, and I listened to the play through several times before realizing that it wasn’t actually an original song.  It’s a rendition of Kanye West’s Mercy for Punk Goes Pop Vol. 5.  If you haven’t heard Yeezy’s original, here’s the link.

Even though each version of the song is a completely different genre, they’re both good on they’re own.  While I pondered why I didn’t recognize the cover, I thought about the strength training trend of getting carried away and with ‘original’ exercises, and throw away equal or better variations due to exercise elitism.

Everyone, regardless of their goals, should include a strength-building focus in their workouts.  That being said, there are infinite exercises and methods to develop strength.  When we tip-toe the fine line of personal preference, bordered by psychology and physiology, we end up with guys like this:

If you ask most ‘lifters’ how to get strong, you’ll hear about the Mighty Barbell, about how “The Big 3” of squat, bench, and deadlift, rule.  Include the military press, add in pull-ups or chin-ups, include bent over rows. Perfect program.

The same can be said for die-hard users of any fitness device or system.  There are positives and negatives to every system and device, and if you’re hell-bent on only using one tool to develop fitness, you’re probably being a tool about it.  You may be happy with where you are now, and think you’ll be happy forever, except ya probably won’t.

Let’s take one of my most loved exercises, the deadlift.  It’s can pretty much do everything except reduce American consumption of Mexican drugs. Deadlifts are probably one of the most beneficial exercises you can do, but most people can’t (or shouldn’t) do conventional deadlifts.  We’d all agree that this is a deadlift:

The conventional deadlift is the golden standard, the crème de la crème of deadlifts.  Some will say that the sumo deadlift doesn’t count:

Still, others will say that trap bar deadlifts don’t count either, including from the low handles:

Things can also get messy when we consider kettlebell or dumbbell deadlifts, or when we get into good mornings or pull-throughs:

Thing is, those all look pretty much the same.  If we could control for angles, set them up on a green screen, and replace the bar with a puppy doing cartwheels, nobody would be arguing over which one is more bad-ass, or cooler, or safer, or more dangerous. It’s the specific movement that we’re after.

A well designed program will have you performing basic movements on a regular basis, and you’ll be reaching, squatting, pulling, crawling, hinging, carrying, and moving through space naturally.  Sure, we can discuss the benefits or lack thereof from certain exercises, but consider the bigger picture.

If you’re missing a major movement pattern in your training, then begin to include it.  Continuing with the hip hinge, it may be as simple as including a butt-to-wall drill in your warm-up, or jumping into conventional deadlifts.  Choose an exercise that allows you to be successful, then progress as you begin to master the movement. You may be completely new to training and learning a lot, or you may be fine-tuning your movement in one or two specific exercises.  Whatever the case, don’t be Gretchen Wieners:

I’ll continue a “Movement Mercy” topic that will discuss some safer or smarter variations of the “hardcore” lifts, and I’d love to hear feedback.  If you have any questions, or you’re pursuing specific exercises and you don’t really know why, let me know in the comments below!

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