Transferability of Barbell Strength

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Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
I'd suggest a better/tougher criteria based on the conversation, is 6 or 8 months training time to several unspecified tests of strength. You have no idea what you're training for but have been assured your subject will need to be "strong" to complete the tests. Any external loads will be based on % of bodyweight rather than on any specific weight.
Why would the external loads be based on bodyweight? I thought we ventured out into the world of the so called real world, functional strength. For example, I've never seen a sofa become lighter when a lighter guy picked it up during a move. All of the challenges of the real world are challenges of absolute weight.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Why would the external loads be based on bodyweight? I thought we ventured out into the world of the so called real world, functional strength. For example, I've never seen a sofa become lighter when a lighter guy picked it up during a move. All of the challenges of the real world are challenges of absolute weight.
Actually in the real world we get help if a load looks like its going to be at or near the max we can lift. Anything else is called "setting yourself up for an injury".

There's a reason there are weight classes for all competitive lifting and for many non-lifting sports as well. Strength to weight is a ratio that shows how strong someone is comparatively, so no handicap for natural size variability - something we have no control over.

I recall watching a competitive armwrester concentration curling 120 lb dumbbell - long strings of reps. Impressive yes, but considering he weighed 340lbs, is like me doing the same with about 65lb dumbbell.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
Actually in the real world we get help if a load looks like its going to be at or near the max we can lift. Anything else is called "setting yourself up for an injury".

There's a reason there are weight classes for all competitive lifting and for many non-lifting sports as well. Strength to weight is a ratio that shows how strong someone is comparatively, so no handicap for natural size variability - something we have no control over.

I recall watching a competitive armwrester concentration curling 120 lb dumbbell - long strings of reps. Impressive yes, but considering he weighed 340lbs, is like me doing the same with about 65lb dumbbell.
Yes, I usually always try to have friends with me when I am moving. Still, the sofa weighs the same no matter who picks it up. It makes no excuses for my weight. The only thing that matters when handling it is absolute strength. Plenty of people have to move furniture for a living. I think certain standards are expected in the job - standards of strength, and they aren't relative.

I've often thought about the weight classes. It's interesting how some sports have them and some don't. I'm relatively happy with the status quo so I won't get further into it.

But I don't really agree with your idea of natural size variability. Sure, height is something we can't help. But we are talking about bodyweight. One can diet and one can go on a mass program. Strength and muscle mass are closely related, like you implied with the talk about weight classes. I'd say that an increase in muscle mass is a typical result of strength training. The more one hunts for absolute strength, the heavier one becomes. That's why the people in competitive strength sports are of a relatively uniform height in a weight class. If we take the earlier earlier TGU example, it may be that one brother weighs 180 lbs and can lift 40kg, and the other one weighs 190lbs and can lift 48kg. If we take the weighs as relative, it may look like the lighter one has it better. However, the only difference between the brothers may be that the heavier one has trained more and therefore can lift more, but that his training has got him more muscle mass. I see no sense in seeing this as a negative thing for him. Now there will of course be limits to natural hypertrophy etc but I don't think they're relevant in the take of this forum.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Yes, I usually always try to have friends with me when I am moving. Still, the sofa weighs the same no matter who picks it up. It makes no excuses for my weight. The only thing that matters when handling it is absolute strength. Plenty of people have to move furniture for a living. I think certain standards are expected in the job - standards of strength, and they aren't relative.

I've often thought about the weight classes. It's interesting how some sports have them and some don't. I'm relatively happy with the status quo so I won't get further into it.

But I don't really agree with your idea of natural size variability. Sure, height is something we can't help. But we are talking about bodyweight. One can diet and one can go on a mass program. Strength and muscle mass are closely related, like you implied with the talk about weight classes. I'd say that an increase in muscle mass is a typical result of strength training. The more one hunts for absolute strength, the heavier one becomes. That's why the people in competitive strength sports are of a relatively uniform height in a weight class. If we take the earlier earlier TGU example, it may be that one brother weighs 180 lbs and can lift 40kg, and the other one weighs 190lbs and can lift 48kg. If we take the weighs as relative, it may look like the lighter one has it better. However, the only difference between the brothers may be that the heavier one has trained more and therefore can lift more, but that his training has got him more muscle mass. I see no sense in seeing this as a negative thing for him. Now there will of course be limits to natural hypertrophy etc but I don't think they're relevant in the take of this forum.

IDK, I do understand your point completely, but in talk of strength it all has to be relative at some level. Otherwise a 120 lb woman benchpressing 225 is still a weakling. In fact almost all of us would be, as folk who train AND are large have massive advantage, no matter what mode they use. Does this mean they train harder, their strength is more honestly earned, or (relative to the topic) their methods are better?

If the conversation is what tool to put weight on a person is the best, BB wins without hesitation (and food, of course!).

If one begins to talk about proportional strength the dynamic shifts. If the BB doesn't make one proportionally stronger on unrelated tasks, it changes the conversation back to learned skill being a significant amount of the strength increase. We could bat this back and forth indefinitely.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
IDK, I do understand your point completely, but in talk of strength it all has to be relative at some level. Otherwise a 120 lb woman benchpressing 225 is still a weakling. In fact almost all of us would be, as folk who train AND are large have massive advantage, no matter what mode they use. Does this mean they train harder, their strength is more honestly earned, or (relative to the topic) their methods are better?

If the conversation is what tool to put weight on a person is the best, BB wins without hesitation (and food, of course!).

If one begins to talk about proportional strength the dynamic shifts. If the BB doesn't make one proportionally stronger on unrelated tasks, it changes the conversation back to learned skill being a significant amount of the strength increase. We could bat this back and forth indefinitely.
I understand, and I don't want to go to that point either. A feat of strength is always the more impressive the smaller and lighter one is. However, I do think that we should have room that we could say "you need to eat more and lift more" to a novice seeking absolute strength. And after a certain level getting bigger is a necessary part of becoming stronger. And that is something that a trainee has to train by. The muscles do not come by themselves. You have to stimulate them, eat and rest accordingly.

I definitely agree that learned skill is a significant aspect of strength. And part of that is specific to a specific lift, and part is common, like tension and breathing and so. I also happen to think that one can be both big and skilled. The strongest ones are.
 

Steve Freides

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... getting bigger is a necessary part of becoming stronger.
1. No, it isn't. It's a common part of becoming stronger. It's an effective way of becoming stronger.

In my mind, the only thing that separates me from Lamar Gant (who has deadlifted five times his bodyweight) is that he's a more skilled deadlifter than I am. And I intend to keep improving my deadlifting skill.

2. And to tease this out a little further, one can add muscle without becoming "bigger" if we measure "bigger" by bodyweight since one can lose bodyfat and still end up at the same overall weight.

-S-
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
1. No, it isn't. It's a common part of becoming stronger. It's an effective way of becoming stronger.

In my mind, the only thing that separates me from Lamar Gant (who has deadlifted five times his bodyweight) is that he's a more skilled deadlifter than I am. And I intend to keep improving my deadlifting skill.

2. And to tease this out a little further, one can add muscle without becoming "bigger" if we measure "bigger" by bodyweight since one can lose bodyfat and still end up at the same overall weight.

-S-
Steve, you misquoted me. I think "after a certain level" is paramount to understanding what I meant.

I do agree that one can, in principle, hone technique to no end. But in some time there will come a time when adding more muscle will be the most efficient way to progress. Whether one is willing to take this step or not is another issue altogether.
 

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
I'd put mine on Starting Strength followed by Texas Method (or something similar). Throughout the whole thing have him do mobility work, where I incorporate TGUs so he learns the movement and once he has good TGU technique and meets certain numbers on the BB lifts ramp up the weights on the TGU following a S&S like approach.
I think you'd do something similar :)

But there's a difference between best and fastest. I agree that BBs are the fastest way to build overall strength that has good carryover to other fields, but it's not necessary the best.
"Best" is highly individual.
That's why I prefer Greyskull LP over SS. SS increases your lifts faster, but lets no room for everything else. GSLP is a bit slower, but you can do other things while using it. Is SS better, because it's faster? A big no in my opinion.

Most of the time though the BB is indeed the best tool and I don't think that you can really argue against it. There's a reason why for many decades now the BB is the number 1 tool for athletes all over the world in most sports.
If for example reaching a 48Kg TGU or doing 10 muscle-ups had better carryover to athletic performance in football, basketball, soccer, track&field, martial arts, skiing, etc. than 1-1.5xBW bench/1.75-2xBW squat/2-2.5xBW DL, then strength coaches would use those instead.
Nailed it in one paragraph.

The fact that the TGU with a Beast is such a milestone doesn't change the fact that it's only 106 pounds. In 4-5 short months I could get this theoretical trainee up into the high 200s for 3 sets of 5 in the squat, low 300s for 5 in the deadlift and he'd be pressing somewhere around 135-145 for 3x5. Bench would be in the low 200s for 3x5. If he's a bigger human, or if he has athletic tendencies, these numbers would be much, much higher. Either way as his strength came up I'd teach him the TGU. Once he's familiar and competent with the movement, his newfound strength will see him through heavy TGUs just as surely as it will see him through any other strength task.

It can be uncomfortable to face that fact that a guy who deadlifts, squats, and presses more than you....is stronger than you. It's natural to want to bend the curve by introducing some sort of Wilkes Score for Daily Life, but reality simply doesn't present itself that way. One of the central ideas of getting strong in the first place is exactly to become or remain functionally independent - the person who doesn't need to phone a friend in order to rearrange the furniture, or pick up a transmission and put it on the workbench, or carry a bag of dog food in from the car, or walk without a walker, or stand up from the potty.

And just a quick word on "being in a hurry": it's often stated that we shouldn't be. I say that's an example of unexamined balderdash. When do we ever wish for things to take longer than they need to? We know how to get strong. If your goal is to get strong, why are you doing all that other stuff that interferes in the rapid acquisition of strength? Why should an untrained Novice be urged to take 10 months to add 200lbs to his squat when it's available in 4 months? He's repeatedly giving back his hard-won strength adaptations in order to.....what? Do swings? Do we believe that people in gyms get the crappy results they get because they're planning to? Or is it more likely they're frustrated and would like to experience genuine rapid progress in their strength? And is there actually any data that suggest that a program of faster strength acquisition is inherently more injurious? Because the vast (VAST) majority of injuries in gyms happen to people who have been spinning their wheels for a very long time.

So anyway, strength is the ability to produce force against an external resistance, it is a general adaptation, it is structural in nature after a brief period of neuro enhancements, so getcha some.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Steve, you misquoted me. I think "after a certain level" is paramount to understanding what I meant.
No disrespect intended, but I don't think so - read on, please.

I do agree that one can, in principle, hone technique to no end. But in some time there will come a time when adding more muscle will be the most efficient way to progress. Whether one is willing to take this step or not is another issue altogether.
Well, here you are misquoting me. I don't disagree with you that it's often done, and that it's "efficient," but "efficient" is in the eye of the beholder. One could argue it's the easy way out of addressing things that could be addressed with improved technique.

I do understand what you're saying, and I don't agree. I'm being a little hard-a@#ed above but only for the purpose of making a point. Consider a car engine - an automobile designer could opt for a larger engine or take what is arguably an inefficient path and try to get more horsepower out of the current engine's size. Is one better than the other? No, and I'm trying to say that I respect adding size as a way of getting stronger. But I cannot abide by calling it "necessary". It's not necessary.

I play the piano and several other instruments; to get better, I practice. I don't consider honing technique "to no end" in any way bad - it's what I do in my chosen profession, and I see no reason not to take a similar approach to becoming stronger. One can also add size "to no end" and become a super-heavyweight lifter - that's another valid approach that is not "necessary."

Different strokes for different folks, @Antti - that is all I'm suggesting here. One can choose to work on technique, or one can choose to add muscle, or one can choose to do both in whatever proportion one chooses. All those are valid choices and none is necessary to become stronger.

My own aim is to do a raw 400 lb. (182 kg) deadlift in the 65-70 year old age group and 66 kg weight class in a few years. G-d willing and the creek don't rise, I'm hoping to 172.5 kg (380 lbs.) next June at age 63, take a couple of years working on other things, and then get back into competition deadlifting when the next age bracket rolls around.

-S-
 

Deleted member 5559

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an automobile designer could opt for a larger engine or take what is arguably an inefficient path and try to get more horsepower out of the current engine's size. Is one better than the other?
"There's no replacement for displacement" -Many ;)
 

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
I do agree that one can, in principle, hone technique to no end. But in some time there will come a time when adding more muscle will be the most efficient way to progress. Whether one is willing to take this step or not is another issue altogether.
This is right on-point. When you're new, technique improvement makes a significant difference in weight on the bar. But, unless you remain a really craptastic deadlifter for a really long time, the law of diminishing marginal returns catches up and you simply have to be stronger if you want to lift more weight. The choice comes in when it's time to either get bigger in order to get stronger or...not. Not get very much stronger that is. Steve likes to believe he and Lamar Gant are separated only by skill. I guess it follows then,that Gant and Eddie Coan are also separated only by deadlifting skill. And before you point out the size difference, just know that what you're pointing out is actually the STRENGTH difference.
 

Matts

Level 3 Valued Member
I've never heard of "barbell strength" or whatever else before. Strength is strength, and it's all inside you, independent of what you do or how you train. Like the Marine is the assault weapon, the firearms, edges, whatever, etc are just tools. One thing I think Steve is assuming about practice is that one is (and I"m sure Steve does) practice effectively, in music and strength. If, with every rep, you're trying to figure out your own body, solving problems, learning better leverages for your bone lengths, better ways to stabilize, you'll get stronger. If you're just mindlessly counting reps and doing the latest program you're crazy about but won't finish like the others, well, it won't "carry over" cause it hasn't developed real strength inside you that conscious skill training would have. Strongest thing has to be the mind...rest will follow. Bigger engine doesn't matter if you don't have a good transmission or suspension- gotta create the best overall package for yourself that both has power and puts it where and how you can use it to suit your goals.
 

Antti

Level 9 Valued Member
No disrespect intended, but I don't think so - read on, please.

Well, here you are misquoting me. I don't disagree with you that it's often done, and that it's "efficient," but "efficient" is in the eye of the beholder. One could argue it's the easy way out of addressing things that could be addressed with improved technique.

I do understand what you're saying, and I don't agree. I'm being a little hard-a@#ed above but only for the purpose of making a point. Consider a car engine - an automobile designer could opt for a larger engine or take what is arguably an inefficient path and try to get more horsepower out of the current engine's size. Is one better than the other? No, and I'm trying to say that I respect adding size as a way of getting stronger. But I cannot abide by calling it "necessary". It's not necessary.

I play the piano and several other instruments; to get better, I practice. I don't consider honing technique "to no end" in any way bad - it's what I do in my chosen profession, and I see no reason not to take a similar approach to becoming stronger. One can also add size "to no end" and become a super-heavyweight lifter - that's another valid approach that is not "necessary."

Different strokes for different folks, @Antti - that is all I'm suggesting here. One can choose to work on technique, or one can choose to add muscle, or one can choose to do both in whatever proportion one chooses. All those are valid choices and none is necessary to become stronger.

My own aim is to do a raw 400 lb. (182 kg) deadlift in the 65-70 year old age group and 66 kg weight class in a few years. G-d willing and the creek don't rise, I'm hoping to 172.5 kg (380 lbs.) next June at age 63, take a couple of years working on other things, and then get back into competition deadlifting when the next age bracket rolls around.

-S-
Misquote? How? I quoted your whole post.

I understand your engine analogy. When it comes to if adding size is necessary, the necessity must be understood in the correct context. Let me ask you a question: If you were supposed train a novice to the absolute maximum of his capability, do you not see that he should, in time, add more muscle mass to his frame in order to reach the maximum?

The way I understood the discussion was that the highest level of advancement, or a relatively high one, was sought. For that would be necessary for the original conversation. It makes no sense to compare which modality makes one reach a 16kg TGU the fastest. The 48kg TGU that was mentioned earlier on, demands more technique and also demands a certain level of muscle. I think it would be a hard lift for the skinniest novices if they couldn't be able to add any muscle on their frames. But of course plenty of people could do it without adding anything.

To further elaborate on honing the technique, I absolutely think that one should aim for pristine technique with every rep they do. We should always strive to become better in the lifts we do. And I think that all good lifters do so, no matter their size.

To take the car analogy, I think if I were to design an engine for a new speed record I would try to make it both as big and as efficient as possible. If I had to work in some constraints, like fuel economy, cost savings etc I would have to design it differently - I don't really know that much about engines so I won't go into specifics. But I had understood it so that the discussion wasn't about fuel economy or other priorities, but just about absolute top speed.

I'll keep my two thumbs up on your competition day.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Antti, my only disagreement is with the word "necessary." If we're talking about what's necessary for someone to achieve "maximum" strength, I must confess that we then have to start talking about the word "maximum" - does that mean everyone should become a SHW lifter because, surely, a high level of skill _and_ "maximum" size is the only way to achieve maximum results?

Engineers will tell you everything is a compromise. In my former life as an avid bikie, it was always "light, inexpensive, strong - pick any two." I don't think you're suggesting that every new trainee ought to strive to weigh 400 lbs. but, if you were, I couldn't disagree if maximum strength without compromise was the stated goal.

We also need to consider the specifics - one of the reasons the deadlift was chosen for PTTP, I believe, is that it offers the most potential for CNS/skill improvement without hypertrophy. I know, e.g., that when I do a pressing program, I am going to gain muscle size in my arms and shoulders - I'm fine with that, and I don't mean to suggest that adding muscle size isn't good, just that it's not necessary. One can also do a pressing program along the lines of the one I suggested to @pet' which he reported worked for him - that was a DDD/PTTP approach of low daily volume, high frequency, and aimed for improving pressing primarily by improving skill.

-S-
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
And @Bill Been, same thing - I don't disagree that adding size is fine way to gain strength, but I do disagree with characterizing it as necessary.

Strongest thing has to be the mind...rest will follow. Bigger engine doesn't matter if you don't have a good transmission or suspension- gotta create the best overall package for yourself that both has power and puts it where and how you can use it to suit your goals.
I like that.

-S-
 

Bill Been

Level 6 Valued Member
The engine analogy is actually not very good at all. A hyperactive Honda Civic motor with multiple power adders can make as much peak horsepower as a Z06 Corvette, but in terms of which one is more usable, reliable, or in any other way "better" it's no contest.

As to strength being a "skill" that you have to "practice", akin to being a musician who must practice, the musician has ONE route to excellence: practice. That's it. There are no musical competence enhancement vitamins. Strength has TWO routes to enhancement: improved technique, and getting stronger. As the musician would be ill advised to rule out harmless music vitamins, the lifter is ill advised to rule out getting stronger as part of the conjoined pair of strength and size. Getting stronger makes a lifter bigger and getting bigger makes a lifter more able to continue to get stronger. If he opts off the "getting bigger" part, he's making a conscious decision to be less strong than he could be. AND THAT'S OKAY. But let's not pretend we're going to "technique" another 100lbs onto the bar after we're already well trained.
 
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