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Bodyweight Pull ups and chest training

Dayz

Level 7 Valued Member
But certainly no one has become extremely good at tennis or marathon running (or any non strength-focused sport like powerlifting) by following a maximalist strength program.

I always thought that was the main argument for minimalist programming - it gets the strength part of training done while not exhausting time/energy/recovery ability of a given individual. So, say, a tennis player would be better served by doing a minimalist strength program and focusing on actually practicing tennis rather that doing a maximalist strength program with sport practice taking a back seat. The same argument goes for violent occupations (enemies aren't going to stop trying to kill you because you need to recover from heavy squats) and for most regular people (whose "sport" that consumes most of their resources is just making a living and fulfilling other obligations).

It also goes with the idea of diminishing returns from strength. Sure, you can't get a 500 kg deadlift out of Power to the People. But unless you are a strongman or a powerlifter, you don't need a 500 kg deadlift, it will not further enhance anything you do as compared to one you could get out of PTTP.

Of course, this reasoning does not apply if maximum strength is your sport. No one, certainly not Pavel, would recommend doing a minimalist strength program to powerlifters, weightlifters, strongmen, Crossfit Games participants and so on.
I completely agree with everything you're saying here, and it's 100% consistent with what I've already said. The problem is people taking minimalist training - and it's rationale - out of its very specific context.

Edit:

But certainly no one has become extremely good at tennis or marathon running (or any non strength-focused sport like powerlifting) by following a maximalist strength program.
And just to emphasise, while this is true, nowhere have I or anyone else to my knowledge indicated this. So I'm not sure if it's a strawman or just a side point?
 

TimothyGander

Level 5 Valued Member
With all due respect, and I mean that, I think you're repeating a lot of marketing ideas about minimalism here. Don't get me wrong, the value of minimalism is huge: a big return on investment, especially for busy people. But let's not get carried away. Generally speaking, not so minimalist training (as ROP, S&S) will lead to far better results in absolute terms.
I think I may have misread this passage then. I took the "minimalism" mentioned here to mean minimalist strength programming, maybe because I have never encountered anyone arguing for minimalist sport specific programs for actual athletes, or because ROP and S&S were mentioned as an example. My other point, that might not be stated clearly enough, is that in practice "far better results" that can be obtained with non-minimalist training are probably far enough on the diminishing returns curve to not be relevant to anyone but a strength athlete.
 

Dayz

Level 7 Valued Member
I think I may have misread this passage then. I took the "minimalism" mentioned here to mean minimalist strength programming, maybe because I have never encountered anyone arguing for minimalist sport specific programs for actual athletes, or because ROP and S&S were mentioned as an example.
ROP and S&S are on the extreme end of minimalism and will leave huge holes.

However they're not just minimalist strength programs, they're minimalist full stop, and provide a small amount of strength, conditioning, and mobility. They're fine in certain situations (like someone who competes in a sport 5 days per week or works 16 hour days).

However, if someone followed any relevant strength program plus any relevant running program, they would end up FAR stronger AND far more conditioned. I say this from experience, but also in reference to science.
My other point, that might not be stated clearly enough, is that in practice "far better results" that can be obtained with non-minimalist training are probably far enough on the diminishing returns curve to not be relevant to anyone but a strength athlete.
I strongly disagree with this. S&S or ROP won't be enough for strength such that normal people will experience diminishing returns, at all. On the contrary: S&S and ROP both leave A LOT of low hanging fruit on the tree.

8 Weeks with a barbell or using a zone 2 base building running plan will net you far more strength and conditioning than a year of S&S.
 

Dayz

Level 7 Valued Member
ROP and S&S are on the extreme end of minimalism and will leave huge holes.

However they're not just minimalist strength programs, they're minimalist full stop, and provide a small amount of strength, conditioning, and mobility. They're fine in certain situations (like someone who competes in a sport 5 days per week or works 16 hour days).

However, if someone followed any relevant strength program plus any relevant running program, they would end up FAR stronger AND far more conditioned. I say this from experience, but also in reference to science.

I strongly disagree with this. S&S or ROP won't be enough for strength such that normal people will experience diminishing returns, at all. On the contrary: S&S and ROP both leave A LOT of low hanging fruit on the tree.

8 Weeks with a barbell or using a zone 2 base building running plan will net you far more strength and conditioning than a year of S&S.
BTW I think I should clarify: I say this as someone who loves the S&S program, having run it at least three times, including my most recent run of ~8 months, using the 40kg exclusively for swings and starting to work it in for TGUs. It was the perfect tool for the job at the time (moving house, having a newborn, stressful job).
 

John K

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
ROP and S&S are on the extreme end of minimalism and will leave huge holes.

However they're not just minimalist strength programs, they're minimalist full stop, and provide a small amount of strength, conditioning, and mobility. They're fine in certain situations (like someone who competes in a sport 5 days per week or works 16 hour days).

However, if someone followed any relevant strength program plus any relevant running program, they would end up FAR stronger AND far more conditioned. I say this from experience, but also in reference to science.

I strongly disagree with this. S&S or ROP won't be enough for strength such that normal people will experience diminishing returns, at all. On the contrary: S&S and ROP both leave A LOT of low hanging fruit on the tree.

8 Weeks with a barbell or using a zone 2 base building running plan will net you far more strength and conditioning than a year of S&S.
Your perspective on ROP is so interesting to me.
 

Dayz

Level 7 Valued Member
Your perspective on ROP is so interesting to me.
I assume you mean in relation to my claim about leaving huge holes? Here's what it lacks:

1. Horizontal pressing (what gets you the strongest, involves the most musculature, most hypertrophy)

2. Horizontal pulling (similar to above)

3. Any appreciable leg strength (a huge component of overall strength)

4. Any appreciable conditioning, especially an aerobic base

5. Any appreciable unilateral leg strength

That list is only a start, but already it's hitting 3 of the usually stated 6 fundamental human movement patterns.....

I understand you can tick some of these boxes on variety days, but they're meant to be light, and even explicitly discouraged in the book. 5x5 loaded cleans etc won't cut it. Heavy bench or Squat is too much with the schedule. It's minimalist because it's really a specialist one arm OHP and Snatch program.
 

DocMike

Level 6 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Pull-ups will not help with pec development, but better pull-ups strength will help with benching and pressing strength. They act as a shoulder stabilizer and force absorber when benching and pressing and keep injuries to a minimum. Can't shoot a cannon from a canoe. Back development is a key component to upper body strength development

Food for thought...find anyone out there that has a strong OHP or bench and look at their back...likely huge. Best way to develop back strength is row and pull-up. Another...look at Wenning or Wendler...super strong bench and they can knock out 20+ pull-ups at 300+ pounds of bodyweight.

Do oullups develop better pecs, no. Do pull-ups help overall upper body development and bench/press strength, yes.
 

John K

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
I assume you mean in relation to my claim about leaving huge holes? Here's what it lacks:

1. Horizontal pressing (what gets you the strongest, involves the most musculature, most hypertrophy)

2. Horizontal pulling (similar to above)

3. Any appreciable leg strength (a huge component of overall strength)

4. Any appreciable conditioning, especially an aerobic base

5. Any appreciable unilateral leg strength

That list is only a start, but already it's hitting 3 of the usually stated 6 fundamental human movement patterns.....

I understand you can tick some of these boxes on variety days, but they're meant to be light, and even explicitly discouraged in the book. 5x5 loaded cleans etc won't cut it. Heavy bench or Squat is too much with the schedule. It's minimalist because it's really a specialist one arm OHP and Snatch program.
Thank you for sharing more on your thought process. Could you expand on this quote as well?
ROP won't be enough for strength such that normal people will experience diminishing returns, at all.

Also, slightly different, looking at understanding how you approach and classify a program "minimalist" or "not" ... would you consider a run-only program a minimalist program? Would you consider a bench-specialist program a minimalist program? Does the time per week play into this classification at all, or is primarily the number of exercises or movement patterns? Is something like Dan John's classic "easy strength" program a minimalist program due to the limited time requirement, or a more "not minimalist" program because it is designed to hit most big movement patterns?
 

watchnerd

Level 8 Valued Member
Pull-ups will not help with pec development, but better pull-ups strength will help with benching and pressing strength. They act as a shoulder stabilizer and force absorber when benching and pressing and keep injuries to a minimum. Can't shoot a cannon from a canoe. Back development is a key component to upper body strength development

Food for thought...find anyone out there that has a strong OHP or bench and look at their back...likely huge. Best way to develop back strength is row and pull-up. Another...look at Wenning or Wendler...super strong bench and they can knock out 20+ pull-ups at 300+ pounds of bodyweight.

Do oullups develop better pecs, no. Do pull-ups help overall upper body development and bench/press strength, yes.

I hit an 8 year PR in OHP mostly by doing more upper back work.

(although it was a lot more exercises than just chin ups)
 

Ege

Level 6 Valued Member
I am in favor of minimalist pro
I assume you mean in relation to my claim about leaving huge holes? Here's what it lacks:

1. Horizontal pressing (what gets you the strongest, involves the most musculature, most hypertrophy)

2. Horizontal pulling (similar to above)

3. Any appreciable leg strength (a huge component of overall strength)

4. Any appreciable conditioning, especially an aerobic base

5. Any appreciable unilateral leg strength

That list is only a start, but already it's hitting 3 of the usually stated 6 fundamental human movement patterns.....

I understand you can tick some of these boxes on variety days, but they're meant to be light, and even explicitly discouraged in the book. 5x5 loaded cleans etc won't cut it. Heavy bench or Squat is too much with the schedule. It's minimalist because it's really a specialist one arm OHP and Snatch program.
I will throw in a little bit controversial experience/idea.

Are all movement patterns created equal?

Are they all contributing the same way to a human being living in modern world?

In my experience they are not.

Pull ups are my most favorite exercise, and pull up pattern is my “strongest” pattern.

Maybe because of this fact, or maybe because pull ups don’t transfer to most of ours lives. Although they make me look strong ( A nice back hypertrophy and biceps hypertrophy I gain as someone ripping beginner benefits and an easy muscle gainer) Their contribution to feeling “nimble” in life or feeling strong in life is very minimal.

When I don’t exercise my pull up, it goes down quickly, but nothing in my perceived strength in life changes. When my pull ups go high, again very little or almost nothing changes. (Please note I have trained dead hangs during that period, my grip strength and strength endurance improved a lot which transferred to life while carrying heavy stuff very very nicely)

This might be a phenomenon as a result of long sedentary years.

The contribution of Swings, and TGUs to my personal perceived strength, the perceived strength contribution of deceptively simple OS resets, or the nimbleness feeling as a result of my hobby sports “movement training” is exceeding some calisthenics movements such as pull ups.

Did not train deadlift so I can’t talk on behalf of them, but developing my squat pattern via GS contributes to my “confidence” to my strength more as well as the feeling of nimbleness.

Someone can criticize my subjective description of “feeling” nimble or feeling “strong”. And it is difficult to defend, but a personal reality for me.

Again it might be due to many factors. 1) Being sedentary weakened my core, so developing core strength has greater transfer for me. 2) Not all movement patterns are equal. Controversially movements that involve heavier weights and less limb work but let your body move all together with legs planted in ground are really best for transferrable strength, such as Swings, TGUs, DLs, Carries, and/or basic human movements such as OS resets and bear walk, monkey walk etc . (I can’t imagine a hunter gatherer living in wild doing push up or pull up, even villagers who climb to trees don’t do pull ups, they use their legs and a shallow pull move and in the first place, human being did not evolve to live in trees but from trees to ground or created this way depending on your belief ) 3) I am already relatively good w pull ups so I need to close the gaps in other patterns. 4) Grip strength is so important that gaining grip strength surpasses losses in pulling strength.

I don’t know the answer. Hence I don’t have a point. I am just sharing personal experience.
 

TimothyGander

Level 5 Valued Member
I strongly disagree with this. S&S or ROP won't be enough for strength such that normal people will experience diminishing returns, at all. On the contrary: S&S and ROP both leave A LOT of low hanging fruit on the tree.
Thanks for stating your position clearly. This (I mean the entire reasoning in this and following post, I don't want to clog the thread by quoting it all) is what I disagree with and what prompted my original defense of minimalism. I might be wrong, I've already clowned myself once by revealing I haven't read Q&D book carefully enough; it's possible I just don't comprehend the reasoning in PTTP, ETK, S&S and other books that well either. But for now, my understanding of Pavel is that a lower body pull/hinge and an upper body push are enough for a complete strength program and so this is my position on that subject.

I do agree that both of these programs might not provide enough in terms of hypertrophy and mobility. I say might not, because the latter varies wildly even in untrained sedentary population, and the need of the former is mostly dependent on a subjective self-image (or more rarely, sport or health related concerns); so it's hard to pick any single program that is best for everyone in terms of such individualized needs.
 

TimothyGander

Level 5 Valued Member
Is something like Dan John's classic "easy strength" program a minimalist program due to the limited time requirement, or a more "not minimalist" program because it is designed to hit most big movement patterns?
This is a very interesting take. In the case of ROP, it has a minimalist exercise selection, but it's time and energy requirements are substantial to the point of filling this very forum with complaints of difficulties with completing the entire prescribed workout (especially heavy days later in the cycle) as one session. So is it more or less minimalist than a program that would contain all the different stuff listed by @Dayz but had a lower total number of lifts?
 

watchnerd

Level 8 Valued Member
Back to the world of chest activation:

Table 1. Average EMG and RPE for Each Exercise
Compared to the Barbell Bench Press
ExerciseAverage EMG RPE
Barbell Bench Press1006.5 ± 1.98
Pec Deck Machine98 ± 26.45.4 ± 2.13
Bent-Forward Cable Crossovers93 ± 22.05.1 ± 1.60
Chest Press Machine79 ± 22.4*4.3 ± 2.30*
Inclined Dumbbell Flys 69 ± 30.5*5.0 ± 1.50
Dips 69 ± 15.8*2.9 ± 2.06*
Suspended Push-ups63 ± 18.5*3.6 ± 2.22*
Stability Ball Push-ups61 ± 20.7* 2.3 ± 1.72*
Standard Push-ups61 ± 20.6*1.5 ± 1.15*


 

Dayz

Level 7 Valued Member
Thanks for stating your position clearly. This (I mean the entire reasoning in this and following post, I don't want to clog the thread by quoting it all) is what I disagree with and what prompted my original defense of minimalism. I might be wrong, I've already clowned myself once by revealing I haven't read Q&D book carefully enough; it's possible I just don't comprehend the reasoning in PTTP, ETK, S&S and other books that well either. But for now, my understanding of Pavel is that a lower body pull/hinge and an upper body push are enough for a complete strength program and so this is my position on that subject.
Well, this is simply incorrect. It's by definition, and it's own admission NOT complete and leaves many holes and therefore many low hanging fruit. How can it be "complete" when it lacks the majority of fundamental movement patterns? No reputable trainer, and I don't think even Pavel himself, thinks its complete. Well respected trainers in the StrongFirst world, like Dan John and Geoff Neupert are on the record on multiple occasions saying Swings and TGUs are great for beginners, but that a much greater return on investment (even a minimalist one) can be gained by progressing and adding other exercises, especially C&P and Front Squat.

I think where you're getting confused is the distinction between "complete" and "enough".

Although S&S is incomplete, in some circumstances, it's nerveless enough. (Ie situations where you don't need appreciable strength, are training a sport 5 days per week, etc). When I had a newborn, stressful job, and no specific goal, S&S was perfect and amazing for me (I ran it 3 times, including once for 6 months and once for 8 months IIRC).

But I was far weaker and far less conditioned and had far less muscle mass than when my training was more complete.

Bottom line. If you care about having more then just beginner level strength and beginner level conditioning, you need more than swings and getups.
 

Dayz

Level 7 Valued Member
Thank you for sharing more on your thought process. Could you expand on this quote as well?


Also, slightly different, looking at understanding how you approach and classify a program "minimalist" or "not" ... would you consider a run-only program a minimalist program? Would you consider a bench-specialist program a minimalist program? Does the time per week play into this classification at all, or is primarily the number of exercises or movement patterns? Is something like Dan John's classic "easy strength" program a minimalist program due to the limited time requirement, or a more "not minimalist" program because it is designed to hit most big movement patterns?
Good questions. For some it might come down to semantics. But to cut a really long story short, I think the important distinctions are between minimalism, and specialised, and general preparation.

Minimalism refers to doing the least amount you can get away with. Ie when training isn't a priority or other priorities trump it. And you already know what GPP and SPP are.
 

TimothyGander

Level 5 Valued Member
How can it be "complete" when it lacks the majority of fundamental movement patterns? No reputable trainer, and I don't think even Pavel himself, thinks its complete.
In Q&D Pavel quotes Steve Freides as saying:
Balance is overrated. The idea that a lifting program must touch on all the “basic human movements” is fundamentally flawed. (...) A lifting program can do what a lifting program needs to do and only contain two lifts. A lifting program doesn’t need to be balanced—a life does.
I think it can be assumed that he agrees with that, and hence, that he rejects the notion of needing to cover all "fundamental movement patterns" in order to have a complete program. By "complete" I meant to convey "doing everything a lifting program needs to do" rather than "containing every movement a human body can make". But I can settle for "sufficient" if "complete" is too ambiguous and maintain that if I understand Pavel's work correctly, he does actually think a two-lift program is sufficient for achieving far more than beginner strength levels.
 

John K

Level 7 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Good questions. For some it might come down to semantics. But to cut a really long story short, I think the important distinctions are between minimalism, and specialised, and general preparation.

Minimalism refers to doing the least amount you can get away with. Ie when training isn't a priority or other priorities trump it. And you already know what GPP and SPP are.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, I appreciate your perspective and have enjoyed the discussion!
 

Dayz

Level 7 Valued Member
In Q&D Pavel quotes Steve Freides as saying:

I think it can be assumed that he agrees with that, and hence, that he rejects the notion of needing to cover all "fundamental movement patterns" in order to have a complete program. By "complete" I meant to convey "doing everything a lifting program needs to do" rather than "containing every movement a human body can make". But I can settle for "sufficient" if "complete" is too ambiguous and maintain that if I understand Pavel's work correctly, he does actually think a two-lift program is sufficient for achieving far more than beginner strength levels.
You're taking everything out of context, lol.

And "doing what a program needs to do" is entirely subjective. My grandma lived to 100 and never did any strength training or exercise but tap dancing. Her S&C program "did what a program needs to do" , for her.

S&S is the same. It does what a lot of people need/ want it to do. E.g. Exercise, get on with life.

However, for people who want to develop appreciable strength or conditioning, it's wholly insufficient and there's much easier ways of developing much more strength and conditioning.

I know this because: science, and personal experience.
 
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