Transferability of Barbell Strength

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Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I'm looking forward to getting back into S&S again properly when my right shoulder is back to 100%.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
Improved technique _is_ getting stronger.

-S-
I'm not so sure. If someone improves their technique in a high-skill lift and then lifts more, sure, I have no problem saying that the person is stronger in that lift. But since this thread is about the transferability of barbell strength, that's a different question. If the technique improvement is that the lifter has learned to use whole body tension/irradiation as Pavel mentions in PttP, then that skill will have carryover because that is a general strength skill. Is improving the barbell snatch because finally something "clicked" technique-wise (as happened to me) create transferable strength? I would say no, at least not initially. Now, if this lifter's snatch was stuck at weight X but due to the technique fix the lifter is now making rapid increases in snatch weight, then the lifter is getting stronger by virtue of the increases in weight, which is a result of the technique improvement. So the improvement in technique indirectly resulted in strength gains.

What about the deadlift? The powerlifts do require technique, no question. But with all due respect to powerlifters, the deadlift is not as technical as the Olympic lifts. The bench and squat are a bit more technical but the deadlift is relatively simple. I doubt a 500 lbs. deadlifter got there with just technique. So a 500 lbs. deadlifter, even one who is relatively light and not "too muscular" is going to be strong.

This is actually a compliment to deadlifts and the powerlifts in general. Deadlifts develop what I like to call "brute strength." As much as I love the Olympic lifts, if I needed to develop lots of strength the Olympic lifts would NOT be my primary exercise choices. The powerlifts and overhead pressing would.
 

Steve Freides

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@MikeTheBear, we have a quote from Pavel in one of his books that goes to the effect of: Who's stronger, a lion or a whale? It depends on whether we're talking about on land or in water.

Strength, if it's not due to body composition changes, _is_ technique at a particular lift.

I'm getting close to a 400 lbs. deadlift at 148 lbs. and 62 years of age. I set a lifetime personal best a few months ago. If it's not technique, what is it? I don't weigh more, and I don't have more muscle. My one-arm pushup is better than it's ever been - same thing. It's because I'm practicing it and getting better at it.

-S-
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
Who's stronger, a lion or a whale? It depends on whether we're talking about on land or in water.
An insightful Pavel quote but doesn't really apply here.

If it's not technique, what is it? I
I guess when I see the word "technique" I think of technique in the lift itself or perhaps a better term would be the mechanics of the lift. Then there's the stuff Pavel talks about. Let me explain.

For "the mechanics of the lift," go back to that video of Brian Shaw doing "snatches." He is basically standing up with the bar, then doing a wide grip upright row into a press. Or something like that. As far as snatch technique goes, it's dreadful. But he is so d*mn strong he can still easily lift 135 lbs. If Brian were shown proper technique I guarantee he would instantly be able to lift more.

The stuff Pavel talks about goes beyond the mechanics of the lift. Any multi-joint lift requires coordination among the various muscle groups. This is why people who can leg press 500 lbs. fail miserably when trying to squat 200 lbs. There is rate of force development, which is more of a power quality but can still be important in the "slow" lifts. There's ability to tap into muscle fibers. Can't remember where I read this, it may have been from Pavel, but your average sedentary person's nervous can only tap into about 50% of available muscle. Elite powerlifters can tap into at least 80%, perhaps a bit more.

In your case, Steve, I doubt you have issues with the mechanics of doing the deadlift. Sure, there's always room for improvement, but like I said, the deadlift is not that complex and you can only get so much better. This is not "strength" because getting better at the deadlift only makes you better at the deadlift.

What is likely happening is the "Pavel stuff." This IS strength. The adaptations gained from the deadlift should more or less transfer over into movements similar to the deadlift or movements that use the same set of muscles.
 

jca17

Level 3 Valued Member
Many of the back and forth discussions in this thread have been almost entirely the semantics around the word "technique". Some people mean by technique the kind of thing that is observable by the senses: an outsider with a trained can see the difference as technique changes, or the lifter can feel something different in their movement or muscle engagement, etc. I use the word this way. I would keep this meaning separate from the other nervous system adaptations that happen at the level below the muscle, like neural drive. Both are neurological and related to nervous system efficiency and learning. One is more at the level of movement pattern (technique), the other is more about synchronization of muscle fibers and stuff that is most likely not visually or proprioceptively noticeable to either outsiders or the lifter. To the lifter, it just feels like something that was heavy is now lighter, without any sensation of harder contraction or better movement sequence.

If we want to call those "invisible" neural adaptations technique, then we don't just mean that our deadlift technique has improved, but that our muscle engagement technique has improved, and this will have broader carry over than having better coordination/timing/technique in a particular lifting pattern. @MikeTheBear thanks for helping me clarify my thoughts on this!
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
I think my one arm pushup is all about technique since I don't practice it any more yet I can do it to show off whenever I need to, in sets of several pushups in a row.

Very interesting thread! I'm learning lots, thank you all!
 

Steve Freides

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@Steve Freides do you think your increased strength through technique has made you stronger overall? Therefore having a carry over? Or is it limited to the deadlift?
The deadlift has tremendous carryover for lots of people - it changed my life, and that's why I started doing it.

Not only has it had carryover to the rest of my life as concerns things like my bad back, it has had positive carryover to my music playing. I believe that muscle tension exists on a continuum, and by moving towards one end, we can improve our ability to move towards the other. I recall quite clearly how my splits got better when I started practicing pistols - only after I "found" and learned to really tense my hip flexors did I then learn to relax them more completely. Only after I learned to apply a load to my spine did I learn what it feels like to relax it and have good posture without effort.

In your case, Steve, I doubt you have issues with the mechanics of doing the deadlift. Sure, there's always room for improvement, but like I said, the deadlift is not that complex and you can only get so much better.
I could not disagree more - my improvement is solely because of improvements in my technique. Whether those improvements are because of "Pavel stuff" or because I've learned to position my knees better at the start is immaterial - both things are part of my deadlift technique.

-S-
 

jca17

Level 3 Valued Member
those improvements are because of "Pavel stuff" or because I've learned to position my knees better at the start is immaterial - both things are part of my deadlift technique.
Yes, but one of these (the Pavel stuff) is MORE than deadlift technique, and that's the difference that I think is worth distinguishing. Pavel stuff might be part of deadlift technique, but its not limited to that. Your nervous system is better able to apply tension through the fibers of the muscle, not only through specific angles used in the deadlift. Your nervous system is also better able to optimize the angles and leverages, the stuff that's specifically deadlift.
 

MikeTheBear

Level 7 Valued Member
I could not disagree more - my improvement is solely because of improvements in my technique. Whether those improvements are because of "Pavel stuff" or because I've learned to position my knees better at the start is immaterial - both things are part of my deadlift technique.
What I'm concerned about, and what this thread is asking, is transferability. Let's say that by standing a half inch closer to the bar my deadlift goes up 20 lbs. A ridiculous example but it will show my thinking. Will this technique improvement transfer to my being able to lift an odd shaped rock? No. This technique improvement will only help me to deadlift a barbell that is uniformly loaded and where the bar is off the ground the exact same height as a regulation weight plate. Now, let's say that through training the deadlift I get really good at pressurizing my abdomen to maintain a rigid core. As a result I deadlift 20 lbs. more. Will this technique improvement transfer to my being able to lift an odd shaped rock? Yes because that particular skill is more general in nature. Being able to maintain a rigid core transfers to picking stuff up off the ground.
 

Kettlebelephant

Level 7 Valued Member
What I'm concerned about, and what this thread is asking, is transferability. Let's say that by standing a half inch closer to the bar my deadlift goes up 20 lbs. A ridiculous example but it will show my thinking. Will this technique improvement transfer to my being able to lift an odd shaped rock? No. This technique improvement will only help me to deadlift a barbell that is uniformly loaded and where the bar is off the ground the exact same height as a regulation weight plate. Now, let's say that through training the deadlift I get really good at pressurizing my abdomen to maintain a rigid core. As a result I deadlift 20 lbs. more. Will this technique improvement transfer to my being able to lift an odd shaped rock? Yes because that particular skill is more general in nature. Being able to maintain a rigid core transfers to picking stuff up off the ground.
I just wanted to tell you that I understood what you meant from the beginning and I was thinking about a way to describe it, to help you out.
IMO this is really hard to put into words and your example I quoted is a good one to show what you mean to distinguish between "stronger" and "stronger".
 

Steve Freides

Staff
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I do understand the point being made here; I don’t agree because the issue is being oversimplified. For example, learning to stand closer to a bar may transfer to pickup up a rock because you learn to stand closer to the rock, too. All of this is highly variable and also highly individual, and exists on a continuum. All we can say with certainty is that heavy compound lifting, up to a point, generally has good carryover. (It would be much easier to discuss where that point of diminishing returns is than to try to separate strength from technique.)

-S-
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Would it be a good idea to do the deadlift single handed, since it is supposed to be better to swing kettelbells single handedly?
 

Shahaf Levin

Level 5 Valued Member
Would it be a good idea to do the deadlift single handed, since it is supposed to be better to swing kettelbells single handedly?
To answer the question of which is "better" you need to define a goal or a some sort of preferable outcome.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Would it be a good idea to do the deadlift single handed, since it is supposed to be better to swing kettelbells single handedly?
There’s a time and a place for everything. I generally choose to do the regular DL because it can be loaded heavily, and do some 1-legged deadlifts with a kettlebell.

To be clear, the 1-arm kettlebell swing isn’t better in some existential way; it is simply our choice for our minimalist program. If you have the opportunity, by all means add some heavy 2-handed swings to your training.

@Pavel Macek and I have started a article on what is the “best” kettlebell swing and why, modeled on some of Pavel Tsatsouline’s blogs about what is the best squat, etc. I will have to get back to that one.

-S-
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
There’s a time and a place for everything. I generally choose to do the regular DL because it can be loaded heavily, and do some 1-legged deadlifts with a kettlebell.

To be clear, the 1-arm kettlebell swing isn’t better in some existential way; it is simply our choice for our minimalist program. If you have the opportunity, by all means add some heavy 2-handed swings to your training.

@Pavel Macek and I have started a article on what is the “best” kettlebell swing and why, modeled on some of Pavel Tsatsouline’s blogs about what is the best squat, etc. I will have to get back to that one.

-S-
Thank you. Thank you for taking my questions seriously. I was doing great with S&S and thus not in need of asking questions like a firehose (a new expression I learned on these forums) but then with my shoulder discomfort waiting to heal I`ve had to ask more questions. The TGU still isn`t comfortable, so I have more energy in my workouts to devote to other moves than the 1 handed swing, so barbell curls, 2 handed heavy swings, carries etc...
 
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Kettlebelephant

Level 7 Valued Member
@Kozushi
One-Arm Swing
A passage in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Antifragile caught my eye: “People who build strength using these modern expensive gym machines can lift extremely large weights, show great numbers and develop impressive-looking muscles, but fail to lift a stone; they get completely hammered in a street fight by someone trained in more disorderly settings. Their strength is extremely domain-specific and their domain doesn’t exist outside.” “Disorderly settings” are what you need when you are after all-terrain strength. Enter the one-arm swing. The bell not only pulls you forward, but it is determined to twist you as well. It is seriously “antifragile” when a man can show a 48kg who is the boss, or a woman a 32kg. An asymmetrical load seriously challenges the stabilizers and increases the recruitment of many muscles. When I swung a 32kg kettlebell two-handed in Prof. Stuart McGill’s lab, my glutes fired up to 80% maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC). When I did it one-handed, the recruitment was up to 100%. And the lat contraction jumped from 100% to 150%! In case you are wondering how it is possible to contract a muscle 150%, the max is isometric. In dynamic contractions higher values are possible— plyometrics are a case in point. The swing on the left generates more power. The one on the right recruits more muscle. Last but not least, the one-arm swing is an exceptional grip-builder. Why would you do two-arm swings at all if the one-arm version is so great? Because two-arm swings generate more power, as proven on the force platform. With reduced stabilization demands, you can really let it rip. Hence, do both types of swings. When you are very competent in the two-arm swing, and not a moment sooner, add the one-arm swing to your practice.

Tsatsouline, Pavel. Kettlebell Simple & Sinister (Kindle-Positionen481-500). Kindle-Version.
S&S is GPP and for GPP the 1H-Swing simply is more "bang for your bucks". That's it.
 

krg

Level 5 Valued Member
@Kozushi

S&S is GPP and for GPP the 1H-Swing simply is more "bang for your bucks". That's it.
That's controversial.

My heart rate spikes higher doing a set of 5 or 10 2HS vs 1HS with the same weight.

1HS certainly gives you the anti-rotation benefits but I think you can express more power in the 2HS. As to what carries over best to GPP? I have no idea at all.
 
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