When it comes to physical preparedness, nothing is quite as important as becoming strong. It is the essential component of physical development and is often lost in the enormous stacks of garbage information that say otherwise.
Because strong people are harder to kill. When all things are equal, like skill or ability, then the stronger person/ athlete/ fighter will win. Mark Rippetoe, one of the most respected developers of strength states:
Many people already know this fact to be true. Those that depend on their bodies for their livelihood focus most of their attention on becoming strong. The only other option is a failure. They accomplish this task by spending most of their time on the basics. The focus on proven methods of strength development that have passed the test of time.
The slow lifts consist of the squat, deadlift, strict shoulder press, and bench press. Four basic movements that come together to form the foundation of any program aimed at physical development.
The reasons are simple, the facts are true, and the results are universal.
♦ Squat. The squat is the king of all exercises and will produce the most physiological change. If you could only do one movement, choose to do the squat. It will develop a person’s entire body, including a mind capable of doing hard things. A person that spends time in the gym with a goal of physical development should be squatting at least once a week. This means a heavyweight on their back and going full depth. Not the sissy weight, half squat nonsense that plagues every Planet Fitness. It has to hurt and it has to be hard.
♦ Deadlift. The deadlift is the most functional exercise in existence. Functional, meaning to enable greater function of oneself. Standing on a Bosu ball while curling 25-pound dumbells do not enable greater function. It doesn’t make an athlete better at their sport and it doesn’t make a parent better at carrying their child. Those type of mainstream functional exercises provides no actual function except to confuse gym-goers and expand the rapidly growing field of pseudoscience. The deadlift is something we were meant to do as humans. Using our bodies as a system, in a way it was designed to do makes us better at using our bodies for other stuff (aka functional).
♦ Strict Shoulder Press. The strict press is the oldest barbell exercise in existence. Back in the olden days of physical culture, strongmen would pick up heavy barbells and dumbells and press it overhead. It was the signature of strength and the calling card of an old-time strongman. Pressing a heavyweight overhead requires a strong, thick-set of abdominals and trains the core to work together as a unit. The press activates the kinetic chain, with the movement beginning at the base of the feet where energy is generated and then transferred up the body to where it is applied, the ending position of the press. No other movement does this so effectively, hence its importance in the overarching goal of physical development.
♦ Bench Press. The bench press is touted as the king of upper body movements. And this is mostly true because nothing isolates the upper body as effectively as the bench press. It also trains novice lifters to move heavyweight. The problem with the bench press is that has become too mainstream. The other three movements mentioned are far more valuable to a person’s overall development. Too much benching can create muscle imbalances, range of motion issues, and a sense of being strong without actually being that strong. It has its place within the paradigm, but it is far from being the holy grail of becoming strong.
There is something else that comes along with learning and executing these foundational movements. Training the body the way it is used, all of the systems at once, develop the skill necessary for performance. Efficiency in performing complex, full-body lifts increase skill, which is more important than just strength alone because skilled people are better at sports. Strength invariably boils down to capability.
The bottom line is to perform squats, presses, deadlifts, and bench presses to become a stronger, more skilled lifter and athlete. A stronger athlete is always better when all other things are equal. And stronger people are of course, harder to kill.
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