Raising Absolute Strength: What’s Old Is New Again

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The training week begins with raising Alpha or Absolute Strength in our cross- hairs. This is best thought of as a 1 Rep Max in a big compound lift of your choice. This lift should be one in which you can contract the greatest possible amount of muscle mass. Traditionally, this meant one of the big 3 barbell lifts such as the bench press, squat or deadlift. The question for us was, can we do better for you? The answer to that question is yes. As with all of our reading, research and testing we looked to both the past and present for better answers – then took some creative license to do better for you. Let’s take a look then, at what we ultimately found…

Many trainees new to the iron game have been sold on the merits of heavy benching, squats and deadlifts. There is no argument from us on this point – these movements work and work well to stimulate a LOT of muscle growth. We use them to great effect in The Blueprint, and they’ve delivered time and time again. If the pillars of your psyche (let’s be honest – ego) are tied to these lifts, we fully support using either the bench press and squat or bench press and deadlift, for raising Alpha/Absolute Strength. Before you go down that road again though, we’d like you to consider two movements from the past. These are long forgotten gems that deserve your attention. For many, they’ll be JUST what the Dr. ordered to get your upper and lower body growing again…

If you take a step back and look at the bigger picture (a person’s training lifetime), you’ll notice a curious pattern – injuries. This is starting to show up in younger and younger trainees and the “pattern overload” of constantly performing the “big 3” barbell lifts leads to shoulder injuries, too much vertical loading/subluxations of the spine, tendonitis and eventual CNS burnout. Let us be very clear on this point: Injuries rob you of time. Time is something that unlike money, you can never get back.

We’ve seen and experienced enough lost time due to injuries than we care to, and thus went looking for better solutions. Unless you’re a power-lifter looking to compete, these solutions would be ideal insofar as presenting a better risk/reward ratio, greatly improved cardiovascular conditioning, and coordination while stimulating an equal (or greater) amount of growth vs. the classic barbell lifts. They both represent the same demand of your ATP-PC energy system/CNS but go a step beyond in some cases by correcting unilateral weaknesses and/or antagonistic muscle groups that may be lagging. It was once again looking at the iron game’s past that brought forth better solutions. Two of those solutions, are presented below.