The desire and dependence for strength was prominent in our childhood when we believed we were action heroes; however, norms in society have placed itself directly between man and this heroic trait and claimed it is no longer necessary. It is unlikely we as men can leave our current lives, venture into the unknown and begin developing strength the way our ancestors did; or quit our jobs to fight crime. Therefore, it must be developed through our physical training.
1. Barbells & dumbbells:
Tools that forage true strength
Did the heroes you once emulated fight injustice using series of bands and machines? Hell no. They picked up the criminal and tossed him aside. They ripped off that car door to save the girl. And your ancestors tossed boulders and dragged lumber. The point is big, heavy, sweeping movements have always been the ultimate display of strength.
Are bands and machines great tools? Absolutely. But if your training primarily consists of them then you are majoring in the minors. Does it sound old-school? You bet. Does it sound outdated? It does. However, the conquest for strength is ancient, and we’d do right to respect that there are not many new things under the sun and certain methods have worked for centuries for a reason. Keep these simple principles in mind next time you train:
- Train your entire body each time you train! Do you think that a superhero shows up to the scene of the crime and asks what body part he should use today? No! Your entire body needs to be ready to go any time of the day, any day of the week; not just on your “chest day”
- The body is meant to be used as a system. That means take a while and stop splitting up body parts. I doubt those action figures worried if they did enough calf raises when they encountered an enemy.
- Squat. Deadlift. Pull. Press. Almost any of these movements performed with a barbell or dumbbell are total body movements.
2. Don’t be afraid to go heavy!
There are two crucial factors that go into building muscle; tension and fatigue. Tension has unfortunately become a subjective word. Tension is not coasting through your first 8 repetitions and then begin to “Feel the burn” on rep 12. This burn is often misinterpreted and tension; however, tension must be defined scientifically. The only way to do this is with a percent of your 1 repetition maximum. The closer you are to your 1 rep max the more tension your muscles are producing to move the weight, the further away from your 1 rep max the less and less tension is present during the movement.
3. Let your sets determine your reps;
-The common approach: 3 sets of 12: 36 Total Reps
-The higher tension approach: 6 sets of 6: 36 Total Reps
Both of these training methods have enough volume (Total Reps) to fatigue the muscle. However, only the higher tension approach allows for enough tension!
4. Don’t just look the part;
How to perform like an action hero as well…
There is no use in training to appear strong without actually possessing strength. Imagine if your favorite boyhood superhero only looked as if he could fight injustice but was too weak to actually do it. Or if your ancestors looked as if they could provide and survive but physically were incapable of doing so.
There are two types of hypertrophy (Muscle Size Increase)
- Myofibrillar: The actual muscle fiber, which directly correlates to muscle strength and power.
- Sarcoplasmic: The fluid like substances around the muscle fiber that plays no role in contraction of the muscles.
Number 1, Myofibrillar is what we as men need to build; it is the muscle that will show up when you need it most. Whether you’re defending yourself in a brawl, picking up the back end of a car, or sprinting down a thief myofibrillar will always have your back. To develop this form of size and strength just follow the previous three points and you’ll be well on your way to looking and performing like a hero.
As a child you don’t aspire to be skinny, frail, weak and physically inadequate. You aspire to be strong, muscular, and capable of any challenge. You picture yourself as the warrior in the arena, the superhero fighting injustice, the action figure battling crime. Strength has, is now, and always will be a prerequisite to the hero you once dreamed of becoming. And although you cannot be a gladiator, fly around the world, or fight crime all by yourself, the need for men to take the shape of what they once so admired is more crucial than ever.
Joe Amberlock(Orlandi) is an undergraduate student at Liberty University pursuing a degree in Kinesiology. Joe’s tutelage under master strength coaches Bill Gillespie and Dave Williams along with experience working with Division 1 collegiate athletics has allowed him to learn, apply, and share his methods to all levels of athletes. Find out more at AmberlockPerformance.com