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What the hell happened?

What happened to effective ,tried and true, basic weight lifting programs when it comes to building quality muscle? You know, the really mundane basic stuff that gives your hands calluses, can leave chips of iron in your mouth from dumbbells clanging together over your head. The basic stuff that 40 years ago was the only option.

I have no problem with machines, cable stations, Hammer Strength equipment, etc.... all of that is fine and dandy given that you don't solely rely and prioritize those apparatuses over free weights. I also feel the Smith Machine and Hammer Strength equipment can in fact be your sole drivers if you are facing injuries that restrict or limit you from specific free weight movements.

The things I do have a problem with is when I see unorthodox exercises being promoted on social media to attract Novice trainees.  Oftentimes these goofy movements are being demonstrated by some “online coach” who has never built appreciable muscle tissue himself to accrue what is called a foundation or base of musculature. When you see 180 lb Trainers doing banded one arm Hammer Strength, 90 degree to the side chest presses with 25 lb plates a side with a caption stating “building pecs or growing pecs” etc… it can make you shake your head.

The same person might be using machines in ways you never thought of for different muscles perhaps. This can be kind of cool to see, and even fun to experiment with, but these cute little tricks are not what is slapping down dense myofibrillar granite muscle onto peoples frames.

I see electro-stim devices being hooked onto peoples muscles while doing exercises. I see  tourniquets being tightly wrapped around limbs before doing a set of bicep curls. I see things that look easier, more entertaining, and fancier than someone bending over with a barbell, and rowing it up into their abdomen for heavy reps.

You see seminars or training camps being built around these unorthodox training styles with the 175 lb Teacher and his 145 lb students intently taking notes and video in plight to make it to 165 lbs given the perfect adherence to the learned exercises.

What we used to see was training camps hosted by someone like Dorian Yates going over how to tap into pain you’d never imagined you could tolerate, and pushing past muscle failure to levels untapped. Learning how to control the barbell and dumbbells, then fluidly driving up the concentric portion of the movement. Those camps would pave the way for individuals soaring into that 225 -250 lb + range as they prioritize good eating and supplementation to coincide with those basic training principles.

Now -- I am sure some these techniques can be effective and have their place in a routine. I would venture to say employing some of these practices at the end of your training session AFTER stressing the core fundamentals of strength and muscle building movements would be advantageous. I personally believe in warming up properly with lighter sets, before going into the “Meat & Potato” free weight movements. Then after conquering some multi-joint, hardcore movements, shift into things like Giant Sets, Drop Sets, Band Training, cables, etc…


At the end of the day -- do what you feel is best for you and your goals. If you don’t care to build utmost muscle mass within your genetic limits -- Insta-Train and make cool video posts, and have a blast. If you want to wring out every muscle fiber (fast twitch/slow twitch) as possible, and attempt to push your genetic envelope -- then prioritize the boring, hard, yet simple fundamentals of strength training which would be your multi-joint, free weight exercises.