Where are we at with barbell endurance?

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North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
When I look at a barbell burpee, I don't understand what it's training you for:

  • It's not explosive enough to really help power production (as opposed to a power clean)
  • It's too many reps, done at too fast tempo, to allow good technique
  • It's not heavy enough to act as a strength building exercise
I mean, yeah, it's a good workout and taxing exercise, but is it training for anything?

To me, that falls into the Crossfit style 'metcon' of exercise.

Yes and no. It is a tool to improve non specific strength endurance. Yes if you string it out AMRAP it would be more of a CF metcon, or as I mentioned if you tweak the active/rest periods it becomes more of a strength conditioning movement. As such it doesn't interfere with other barbell specific competitive lifts. Same with the Thrusters. This would not be the bulk of one's training with possible exception of a weight loss goal.

Once you start talking about competitive lifting is tough to come up with alternative uses for the barbell to build conditioning strength that might not interfere with the primary goal. But end of day its just another form of resistance and you can change the load and pacing to do whatever you need it to do, if you're looking to build less specific strength endurance.

I would agree it is a bad idea for barbell athletes to use it in this manner. For anyone else it would work fine.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Ever see a small farm kid buck hay that weighs as much as he does, similar to heavy singles with short rest between reps. What about a strongman competition lifting near max repeatedly then doing it again a while later.

The intent of barbell endurance isn't necessarily for barbell specific sports, it would be to extend the number of times the body can make a max effort grind while fatigued. I'm not sure I would even consider it conditioning. I dont know if it would change how a muscle or the CNS fatigues or what would happen to the physiology but it seems more unique than A+A snatches or other conditioning.
Sounds like S&S, pg 72, "A Lesson from Workers and Peasants" talking about Steve Justa. "He decided to do many low-rep sets with a moderately heavy weight, "not to the point of huffing and puffing, but to the point where I could do the movement over and over again for three to five hours if called upon. Of course, take adequate rest between sets, but not so very much rest, and use sets where you're just slightly tired at the end of them.""

Why shouldn’t a BB complex be used for A+A training? Why are only KBs allowed?
That's what this whole thread is about. I think there are some good reasons clarified that the barbell is not a good tool to achieve objectives of A+A (power/strength + alactic & aerobic energy systems development). But of course anyone can train any way they want to.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
I actually don't think non-specific strength endurance exists, because I don't believe non-specific strength really exists.

All strength is specific.

I agree with that up to a point. I'd rephrase it by saying "all carry-over is limited". What limits carryover?

Some strength is more general than others and all strength has carryover, just a question of how large the surplus needs to be for an untrained application. The hypothetical farmboy will be at a disadvantage in the gym just as much as a gym rat will be on the farm. But I'd wager the farmboy will come up to speed faster than the gym rat when their roles are reversed because his/her strength has been built in a less specific manner with more variety of movement, variety of contraction duration and type. The gym rat just plain has more leverage postures for his body to learn so he can even apply the strength he possesses.

Certainly for power sports there is a greater specificity to the movement and leverages that limits carryover.

Compound lifts done at lower tempo probably a lot more carryover to more untrained movements as long as the untrained movement doesn't require explosive application of force.
 

watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
Ever see a small farm kid buck hay that weighs as much as he does, similar to heavy singles with short rest between reps. What about a strongman competition lifting near max repeatedly then doing it again a while later.

The intent of barbell endurance isn't necessarily for barbell specific sports, it would be to extend the number of times the body can make a max effort grind while fatigued.
Why not use a sandbag?

They're much closer to your hay bale example.

Actually, they're even more challenging because they're squishier than hay bales.

And you can vary the loading by varying the sand.

And you can chuck them over your shoulder for a loaded carry much better than a barbell.

I've found sandbag cleans to be brutally challenging. If you think kettlebells are unstable loads, try a bag of sand that moves around.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I actually don't think non-specific strength endurance exists, because I don't believe non-specific strength really exists.

All strength is specific.
It depends on the trainee. The earlier one is in one's training life, the more non-specific strength does exist.

Perhaps we're not all talking about the same thing. I will give a personal example. When I was new to lifting, I was able to 2 pullups. After following PTTP for six months, and no pullup training, I was able to do 12 pullups. My bodyweight didn't change.

-S-
 

watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
But I'd wager the farmboy will come up to speed faster than the gym rat when their roles are reversed because his/her strength has been built in a less specific manner with more variety of movement, variety of contraction duration and type..
Pavel, in one of his books (I forget which), mentions that either the Russians or Bulgarians tried making hearty strong boys into weightlifters.

They did no better or worse than city kids.
 

watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
It depends on the trainee. The earlier one is in one's training life, the more non-specific strength does exist.

Perhaps we're not all talking about the same thing. I will give a personal example. When I was new to lifting, I was able to 2 pullups. After following PTTP for six months, and no pullup training, I was able to do 12 pullups. My bodyweight didn't change.

-S-
But that example you just mentioned doesn't make you able to do a planche push up, get into crow pose, or hold an iron cross.

We're not super heroes like Batman or Captain America that can fight, do gymnastic moves, exert for hours, climb buildings, swim miles, and lift refrigerators, all in the same body.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
Pavel, in one of his books (I forget which), mentions that either the Russians or Bulgarians tried making hearty strong boys into weightlifters.

They did no better or worse than city kids.
But how long did it take to find that out? Initially who was stronger? And again, once you start specializing, a lot of your general strength is no longer very applicable.

I know back when I was wrestling, kids from the boonies all seemed to be tougher than the city folk at the JV level. At the Varsity level there was a lot more training time evening things out perhaps.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
But that example you just mentioned doesn't make you able to do a planche push up, get into crow pose, or hold an iron cross.
Nor does my example make me able to stand on my head and spit wooden nickels, but that wasn't my point. My point was the general, non-specific strength does exist, and training the barbell deadlift seems to have given me just that. And it's given me the ability to do some things on the rings, even. My six months of deadlifting got me to, if memory serves, somewhere around 2x bodyweight as a 150 lb. man in my late 40's.

One could argue that if my deadlift 1RM were higher, I'd be able to do more things I can't do now. I'm at 2.5 x bodyweight in my mid-60's and the same 150 lbs., and I hope to be able to test that assumption when I return to competition. A 4x bodyweight deadlift would be great, but right now I'm willing to settle for 3x. :)

-S-
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
As another example, when I include some higher intensity circuits into my weekly or bi-weekly it doesn't improve the max weight I can do in other specific lifts, but it does shrink my recovery time and overall RPE. It might even improve my sub max AMRAP, but I don't test for that very often so IDK.

To me this is the very definition of an improvement in non specific strength endurance.

Edit to add: yes, sandbags are a great tool for this sort of work, among others.
 

watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
Nor does my example make me able to stand on my head and spit wooden nickels, but that wasn't my point. My point was the general, non-specific strength does exist, and training the barbell deadlift seems to have given me just that. And it's given me the ability to do some things on the rings, even. My six months of deadlifting got me to, if memory serves, somewhere around 2x bodyweight as a 150 lb. man in my late 40's.

One could argue that if my deadlift 1RM were higher, I'd be able to do more things I can't do now. I'm at 2.5 x bodyweight in my mid-60's and the same 150 lbs., and I hope to be able to test that assumption when I return to competition. A 4x bodyweight deadlift would be great, but right now I'm willing to settle for 3x. :)

-S-
No offense, but it's easy to pick examples that validate the hypothesis...all that proves is that, yes, strength training has a window of activities to which the gains translate.

But that window is very specific to the type of strength training and activity.

All strength and conditioning coaches know this, and select their exercises accordingly.

Getting 'non specifically strong' in the bench press or overhead press isn't going to make you a better cyclist.
 

Deleted member 5559

Guest
We're not super heroes like Batman or Captain American that can fight, do gymnastic moves, exert for hours, climb buildings, swim miles, and lift refrigerators, all in the same body.
Many SOF operators are the anti-thesis to this. Alex Viada is a good exaple too.
 

watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
Many SOF operators are the anti-thesis to this. Alex Viada is a good exaple too.
Not really.

SOF operators are highly adaptable generalists who have to be pretty good at a wide range of scenarios, but can't afford to be specialize and be world class in any one thing.

SOF operators can't afford the opportunity cost, nor choose between the physiques, of winning a strongman competition vs being world class marathoners.

World records are broken by the <1% who are highly adapted to a specific task. Real world humans can't simultaneously occupy all points on the human capability spectrum.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
You could improve general strength endurance training with a rock, I don't see why a barbell wouldn't work even if the rock might not be a better choice. But then I'm no longer sure if we're talking about general anything here.


This has been a great chat, but I think the conversation has gone astray from the original topic to the point where a new thread is probably in order.

We've gone from improving strength endurance with a barbell to GPP vs breaking records at specific efforts.
 

watchnerd

Level 6 Valued Member
And again, once you start specializing, a lot of your general strength is no longer very applicable.
You're making my point.

GPP, 'General strength' or 'general fitness' is just a starting point to be capable of doing something specific and doesn't make you very good at anything in particular. Or even assure that you're capable of being good.

The Russians, Chinese, and Bulgarians know this -- which is why they have huge feeder programs for their gymnastics, weightlifting, etc, programs, taking huge pools of very young kids who are generally fit and then weeding out those who either don't have the right aptitude or don't adapt.

To me, general strength or general fitness is kind of like basic literacy. It's just a stepping stone.

To me, specificity and a goal is the difference between 'training' vs 'exercising'.

Once upon a time, general fitness was probably just a given for the majority of the population from 18-35. The fact that we have to 'train' for general fitness these days is more of a sad commentary on the modern human condition than probably anything else.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 7 Valued Member
To me, general strength or general fitness is kind of like basic literacy. It's just a stepping stone.

To me, specificity and a goal is the difference between 'training' vs 'exercising'.
There is certainly no general agreement on this topic. My take is that once a person has solid GPP (whatever that is) they can specialize, maintain, or continue to increase across a range of attributes.

Choosing the later might stem from the fact that any particular performance goal might not be clearly defined, or there are too many to specialize. That doesn't mean one cannot keep pushing up the quality across a range of attributes. I'm not training to be a Bulgarian gymnast or powerlifter...
This approach also keeps one in great fighting trim to break off and specialize at a moment's notice.

Yes you hamstring any one specific goal, but what other choice if the adaptive response is to be better at everything. You'll just get better at it more slowly. This doesn't immediately default to CF, I think most of us non-specific folk will still have weighted priorities and on this forum, strength is high on the list.

Edit to add:
I also feel this is the path to being able to more readily express strength at unprogrammed activities - which is really my #1 goal.
 
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