T Nation

BroScience VS You Guys

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]craze9 wrote:
Haha, ok. I still can’t say I really understand your position.

To confirm, if I want to look more like Kingbeef I should add a day to my split where I just do shrugs and abs and wrist curls and calf raises?[/quote]

You will definitely develop those muscles more by working them directly versus indirectly, yes.[/quote]

I didn’t think that’s what we were talking about. As a general point I think the above is obviously true. But it would depend what you mean by “directly.” I think hang cleans and deadlifts and farmer walks work the traps pretty directly. My traps get sore when I do them.

And if you’re saying that for a beginner lifter barbell shrugs will build traps better than deadlifts, I don’t necessarily agree. I don’t know for sure either way, but there was just a thread on traps the other day and no one said “just do a lot of shrugs”.


[/quote]

As I said, I do not feel we will see eye to eye on this issue.

[quote]lift206 wrote:

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]craze9 wrote:
Haha, ok. I still can’t say I really understand your position.

To confirm, if I want to look more like Kingbeef I should add a day to my split where I just do shrugs and abs and wrist curls and calf raises?[/quote]

You will definitely develop those muscles more by working them directly versus indirectly, yes.[/quote]

I didn’t think that’s what we were talking about. As a general point I think the above is obviously true. But it would depend what you mean by “directly.” I think hang cleans and deadlifts and farmer walks work the traps pretty directly. My traps get sore when I do them.

And if you’re saying that for a beginner lifter barbell shrugs will build traps better than deadlifts, I don’t necessarily agree. I don’t know for sure either way, but there was just a thread on traps the other day and no one said “just do a lot of shrugs”.


[/quote]

I agree with most of what was stated in that forum. Getting big traps comes from forcing the traps to do a lot of work. That’s why the answer can be doing a ton of reps which also translates to a large amount of TUT.

The holistic answer is that you have to get your traps strong so it can do more work. More work forces adaptation to get stronger. Basically periodizing between strength and hypertrophy because they build off one another. If you only focus on the strength end of the spectrum, it will take a long time to gain size.

IMO, there isn’t much of a difference between a bodybuilder, powerlifter, oly lifter and strongman. The goal is to get as big and strong as possible for the given weight class. The strength athletes just tend to focus more on technique for strength and are generally more efficient at using their body as a whole to execute each competition lift. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a person focused on aesthetics can’t learn to move big weights in the same competition lifts - some can be stronger than their counterparts.

The large work load is technically most responsible for the mass gains but if you’re talking about getting big over an entire lifting career then it’ll be wise to have a good mix of work ranging from light to heavy intensity and low to high volume.[/quote]

I agree, but I thought we were talking about the best “in general” approach for a lifter in his first few years of training.

To which I’m saying 1) it’s a good idea for most of these people to at least try doing deadlifts, or some deadlift variation and 2) it is a waste of training resources for these people to have an entire day focusing on isolation work for small muscle groups like calves/traps/forearms.

At no point did I say that someone who really wants to focus on maximizing trap size should never do shrugs. Or that a bodybuilder shouldn’t isolate a muscle or use targeted lifts rather than larger compound movements.

But for someone whose goal is more overall size and strength (the vast majority of lifters), and is still relatively a beginner, I don’t see shrugs or wrist curls as important, at all. I’ll go one further – a lifter in that category who focuses on deadlifts and hang cleans and farmer walks and does zero shrugs or wrist curls will tend to have just as good trap and forearm development as a guy who devotes a day in his split to shrugs and wrist curls, but he will also have been training additional qualities via those compound lifts – full body strength, core stability, explosiveness, etc. If you are an advanced bodybuilder and don’t care about any of those things, then fine, do the isolation work and load up the volume, but I was never talking about advanced bodybuilders.

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]lift206 wrote:

[quote]craze9 wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]craze9 wrote:
Haha, ok. I still can’t say I really understand your position.

To confirm, if I want to look more like Kingbeef I should add a day to my split where I just do shrugs and abs and wrist curls and calf raises?[/quote]

You will definitely develop those muscles more by working them directly versus indirectly, yes.[/quote]

I didn’t think that’s what we were talking about. As a general point I think the above is obviously true. But it would depend what you mean by “directly.” I think hang cleans and deadlifts and farmer walks work the traps pretty directly. My traps get sore when I do them.

And if you’re saying that for a beginner lifter barbell shrugs will build traps better than deadlifts, I don’t necessarily agree. I don’t know for sure either way, but there was just a thread on traps the other day and no one said “just do a lot of shrugs”.


[/quote]

I agree with most of what was stated in that forum. Getting big traps comes from forcing the traps to do a lot of work. That’s why the answer can be doing a ton of reps which also translates to a large amount of TUT.

The holistic answer is that you have to get your traps strong so it can do more work. More work forces adaptation to get stronger. Basically periodizing between strength and hypertrophy because they build off one another. If you only focus on the strength end of the spectrum, it will take a long time to gain size.

IMO, there isn’t much of a difference between a bodybuilder, powerlifter, oly lifter and strongman. The goal is to get as big and strong as possible for the given weight class. The strength athletes just tend to focus more on technique for strength and are generally more efficient at using their body as a whole to execute each competition lift. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a person focused on aesthetics can’t learn to move big weights in the same competition lifts - some can be stronger than their counterparts.

The large work load is technically most responsible for the mass gains but if you’re talking about getting big over an entire lifting career then it’ll be wise to have a good mix of work ranging from light to heavy intensity and low to high volume.[/quote]

I agree, but I thought we were talking about the best “in general” approach for a lifter in his first few years of training.

To which I’m saying 1) it’s a good idea for most of these people to at least try doing deadlifts, or some deadlift variation and 2) it is a waste of training resources for these people to have an entire day focusing on isolation work for small muscle groups like calves/traps/forearms.

At no point did I say that someone who really wants to focus on maximizing trap size should never do shrugs. Or that a bodybuilder shouldn’t isolate a muscle or use targeted lifts rather than larger compound movements.

But for someone whose goal is more overall size and strength (the vast majority of lifters), and is still relatively a beginner, I don’t see shrugs or wrist curls as important, at all. I’ll go one further – a lifter in that category who focuses on deadlifts and hang cleans and farmer walks and does zero shrugs or wrist curls will tend to have just as good trap and forearm development as a guy who devotes a day in his split to shrugs and wrist curls, but he will also have been training additional qualities via those compound lifts – full body strength, core stability, explosiveness, etc. If you are an advanced bodybuilder and don’t care about any of those things, then fine, do the isolation work and load up the volume, but I was never talking about advanced bodybuilders.
[/quote]

I’m surprised that you are taking this stance when you have previously lamented about guys in the gym being bigger but much “weaker” than you. You still believe it’s genetics rather than training approach?

I also don’t understand how one cannot develop full body strength etc, etc, by using a split. Bearing in mind that I have focused on “strength” training a lot in the past, this is something I would say sounds right in theory, but not in practice.

I happen to believe that starting with equal emphasis on all bodyparts and variety in exercises and rep ranges will set up a beginner for specialization in the powerlifts later if he so decides to take up the sport because then he will have far less weaknesses and sufficient muscle to focus on technical proficiency, but this would just be a theory of mine.

Let’s be bros who embrace science!

Stick to an approved schedule for your main lifts. Use total volume or some scientific approach or routine to keep from grinding yourself away on the main lifts.

Put your bro side in charge of your back and beach muscles. Once you do your “real” work, you can do some curls and some tri’s. I don’t know if it’s real science or bro science, but gym rats and lab coats agree that getting a pump makes your muscles grow.

Deadlift or don’t, but hit those rows/pulldowns/shrugs twice a week each. Vary the grip, use barbells once and dumbbells once, whatever. Let bodybuilders be your guide. They have all sorts of cool non-deadlift back moves from all angles.

If you really, really want big traps and forearms you’ll find yourself doing deadlifts, cleans, shrugs, farmers walk, wrist curls, cable upright rows, hammer curls and probably a bunch of other stuff. Scientifically, all that stuff won’t all fit in. So give in to your bro side, and do an extra workout. Use scientific techniques, like no Deadlifting on that extra day, to make sure the extra work doesn’t detract from your main sessions.

The more muscles you can build, the better your main lifts will progress.

5x5 dogma is every bit as annoying as the so-called “bro split”

also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will

[quote]Yogi wrote:
also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will[/quote]

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that if you hit insert back exercise here with enough load and volume, over time you will develop a big, strong back. I also think you could make a similar statement about insert chest exercise here and chest development etc. etc.

The more theories I see about how to lift, the more I become convinced that the only common theme is that hard work and time are the key.

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will[/quote]

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that if you hit insert back exercise here with enough load and volume, over time you will develop a big, strong back. I also think you could make a similar statement about insert chest exercise here and chest development etc. etc.

The more theories I see about how to lift, the more I become convinced that the only common theme is that hard work and time are the key.[/quote]

I think the x-factor here would be considering the deadlift a back exercise rather than a hip hinge exercise.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will[/quote]

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that if you hit insert back exercise here with enough load and volume, over time you will develop a big, strong back. I also think you could make a similar statement about insert chest exercise here and chest development etc. etc.

The more theories I see about how to lift, the more I become convinced that the only common theme is that hard work and time are the key.[/quote]

I think the x-factor here would be considering the deadlift a back exercise rather than a hip hinge exercise.
[/quote]

I would say that deadlifting and powerclean variants have contributed almost 100% to the fact that my upper back is my most comparatively developed feature. Having said that, I’ve never really divided my lifts down by body parts so I haven’t given any thought to what I would classify it as.

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will[/quote]

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that if you hit insert back exercise here with enough load and volume, over time you will develop a big, strong back. I also think you could make a similar statement about insert chest exercise here and chest development etc. etc.

The more theories I see about how to lift, the more I become convinced that the only common theme is that hard work and time are the key.[/quote]
Pretty much this. In a balanced program it is hard to tell what growth is from what exercise. Also if back training really is a priority, then hit some band pull aparts/DB rows/pull ups in between pushing exercises to get extra volume and frequency. Keep it far from failure though, if you can get a set of ten, then try to keep it around 5 reps per set for pullups/rows, or just bust out sets of tens with bands.

Great advice DE.

Uncle Louie spent years figuring this stuff out for us. Then he spent years trying to tell us what he figured out.

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will[/quote]

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that if you hit insert back exercise here with enough load and volume, over time you will develop a big, strong back. I also think you could make a similar statement about insert chest exercise here and chest development etc. etc.

The more theories I see about how to lift, the more I become convinced that the only common theme is that hard work and time are the key.[/quote]

I think the x-factor here would be considering the deadlift a back exercise rather than a hip hinge exercise.
[/quote]

I would say that deadlifting and powerclean variants have contributed almost 100% to the fact that my upper back is my most comparatively developed feature. Having said that, I’ve never really divided my lifts down by body parts so I haven’t given any thought to what I would classify it as.[/quote]

If you were doing no direct back work and also not training the rest of the body with development as the goal, I can see this being very possible.

[quote]Destrength wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will[/quote]

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that if you hit insert back exercise here with enough load and volume, over time you will develop a big, strong back. I also think you could make a similar statement about insert chest exercise here and chest development etc. etc.

The more theories I see about how to lift, the more I become convinced that the only common theme is that hard work and time are the key.[/quote]
Pretty much this. In a balanced program it is hard to tell what growth is from what exercise. Also if back training really is a priority, then hit some band pull aparts/DB rows/pull ups in between pushing exercises to get extra volume and frequency. Keep it far from failure though, if you can get a set of ten, then try to keep it around 5 reps per set for pullups/rows, or just bust out sets of tens with bands.[/quote]

Big fan of this approach. Pull aparts are like jello: you always have room for them.

[quote]craze9 wrote:
I agree, but I thought we were talking about the best “in general” approach for a lifter in his first few years of training.

To which I’m saying 1) it’s a good idea for most of these people to at least try doing deadlifts, or some deadlift variation and 2) it is a waste of training resources for these people to have an entire day focusing on isolation work for small muscle groups like calves/traps/forearms.

At no point did I say that someone who really wants to focus on maximizing trap size should never do shrugs. Or that a bodybuilder shouldn’t isolate a muscle or use targeted lifts rather than larger compound movements.

But for someone whose goal is more overall size and strength (the vast majority of lifters), and is still relatively a beginner, I don’t see shrugs or wrist curls as important, at all. I’ll go one further – a lifter in that category who focuses on deadlifts and hang cleans and farmer walks and does zero shrugs or wrist curls will tend to have just as good trap and forearm development as a guy who devotes a day in his split to shrugs and wrist curls, but he will also have been training additional qualities via those compound lifts – full body strength, core stability, explosiveness, etc. If you are an advanced bodybuilder and don’t care about any of those things, then fine, do the isolation work and load up the volume, but I was never talking about advanced bodybuilders.
[/quote]

This is a long response but I think itâ??ll clear things up. Itâ??s hard to keep the response short when tying in all together strength, hypertrophy, â??bodybuilding/isolation workâ??, â??general strengthâ??, a beginnerâ??s approach and training economy. I had the same view as you early on but it changed over time.

I don’t think we should limit what a beginner can do. Just because they are new shouldn’t mean they have to do one style of training. The one thing we know they can’t do is jump into a routine with a high workload because they simply aren’t ready. This doesnâ??t mean they are limited in frequency/set/rep scheme, type of progression, etc., as long as the workload is manageable and they can adapt. The most important things for a beginner are to have a clear goal, sound technique in whatever lifts they use to reach that goal, an effective training plan, and to get experience managing diet, recovery and stress.

The misunderstanding here is what hypertrophy and strength are used for. It’s common for people to think hypertrophy is to build pretty muscles and strength is to build the big 3 lifts. But really hypertrophy and strength are key components for an effective program with almost any goal related to muscles, movements and/or performance. A powerlifter should use hypertrophy and strength work to build the muscles and movements. A powerlifter can use curls to bring up their forearms and biceps if those muscles are lagging in stabilizing the elbows. We might call it ‘bodybuilding work’ but the purpose is to build the bench. That doesnâ??t mean a powerlifter needs to devote a lot of time to training biceps if most of the work comes from other pulling movements. Isolation work isn’t strictly for bodybuilders. It can be used for all strength athletes to support their goals. Oly lifters use isolation work to build their shoulders so it isnâ??t much different for them either. Isolation work can be used to bring up strength weaknesses, to get in easy volume, to stimulate muscles for conditioning or maintenance, for recovery, etc. in addition to aesthetics/growth. Sometimes the programming calls for isolation work, sometimes it doesnâ??t. Calves and forearms usually arenâ??t undertrained for powerlifters but getting traps as big and strong as possible will almost always help.

For beginners or someone in pursuit of general strength (as an example we can use powerlifting style training without intentions of competing), it becomes a chicken or the egg dilemma in terms of focusing on strength or hypertrophy (‘bodybuilding/isolation work’ falls into this category). If I had to start someone from scratch I would use both - it doesn’t matter what comes first. The person would learn to stabilize their shoulders, spine and hips to move big weights in any type of movement. I would utilize isolation work to build strength in many of the weak muscle groups and/or teach someone how to use certain muscles if they donâ??t know how and then teach the person how to integrate every muscle group into the movement over time. If they want a strong bench press then I would put a lot of emphasis in their upper back, shoulders, chest, lats and arms. The rest of the body is important but the muscle groups above will do the most work. I would have them doing a ton of pullups and rows to build back strength. A beginner will typically do pullups with their arms and not much upper back involvement so maybe starting off we would use lat pulldowns to teach them how to pull their shoulder blades down (thatâ??s why technique in every single lift a person does is important, not just the big 3 lifts). Is doing lat pulldowns with light weight and high reps bodybuilding work? From my point of view itâ??s just hypertrophy work supporting the trainee’s goal. Eventually I would have them cycling through light and heavy pulldowns as they progress to pullups.

Next is the training plan. People really underestimate the work they can do. This is also what T3h Pwnisher was alluding to. I bet if you did 5 pullups each day, it would have very little impact on your recovery. What if you did a bit more the next week because your body adapted and it felt easy? And you continued to add more. Thereâ??s also the common belief that you have to use a certain rep scheme. What if you just knocked off 1-2 reps at a time because it was more manageable that way? Do you think that over time adding 100 pullups each week to your training plan would be a bad thing? Even though the 100 reps were attained doing sets of 1-2 reps, is that a bad thing? Doing 1-2 reps doesn’t always have to mean a person is doing high intensity work because in this case it’s the opposite. It may affect performance if you do 100 reps right away and werenâ??t conditioned for it but if you built that additional work capacity over time, it wouldnâ??t make much of an impact on performance for your main work and you would get stronger. People often underestimate the importance of shoulder stabilization for building a big bench and the workload they are capable of. This is where we can agree to disagree that doing the extra upper back work is a waste of training resources because from my point of view the effort put in is minimal compared to the benefits. If you were trying to complete 100 reps in less than 10 sets and it were very taxing then yes the effort may not be worth it. But you donâ??t have to do it that way and this is where itâ??s important to learn that low intensity high volume work can be beneficial. Training economy isnâ??t just about sets/reps/weights, it must include effort and adaptation to different workloads and stimuli.

Youâ??ll hear successful bodybuilders say to train like a powerlifter and successful powerlifters say to train like a bodybuilder. All they mean is that hypertrophy and strength are both important and should be used in such a way to support the goal. Even a strength athlete that is yoked and has filled out his/her weight class will still include both these elements in his/her programming. From observing all the top powerlifters out there, I believe the goal should be to get every single muscle group bigger and stronger over time in addition to mastering technique to perform at a high level.

For the record, I also don’t think deadlifts are necessary for general strength. I would say a properly executed high bar squat is fine for general strength and fitness. IMO, there are easier ways to teach hip hinging and I wouldn’t introduce deadlifts until they learned to squat.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will[/quote]

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that if you hit insert back exercise here with enough load and volume, over time you will develop a big, strong back. I also think you could make a similar statement about insert chest exercise here and chest development etc. etc.

The more theories I see about how to lift, the more I become convinced that the only common theme is that hard work and time are the key.[/quote]

I think the x-factor here would be considering the deadlift a back exercise rather than a hip hinge exercise.
[/quote]

exactly, you’re talking about training dynamically versus isometrically.

An exercise where your back muscles are the prime movers is always going to be better

[quote]Yogi wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]dagill2 wrote:

[quote]Yogi wrote:
also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will[/quote]

I think it’s pretty clear at this point that if you hit insert back exercise here with enough load and volume, over time you will develop a big, strong back. I also think you could make a similar statement about insert chest exercise here and chest development etc. etc.

The more theories I see about how to lift, the more I become convinced that the only common theme is that hard work and time are the key.[/quote]

I think the x-factor here would be considering the deadlift a back exercise rather than a hip hinge exercise.
[/quote]

exactly, you’re talking about training dynamically versus isometrically.

An exercise where your back muscles are the prime movers is always going to be better[/quote]

In this case, it’d probably be good to think of deadlifts and cleans pretty differently. I think clean variations have done the most for my back personally, but the deadlift established the initial strength foundation.

[quote]dt79 wrote:

[quote]craze9 wrote:
I agree, but I thought we were talking about the best “in general” approach for a lifter in his first few years of training.

To which I’m saying 1) it’s a good idea for most of these people to at least try doing deadlifts, or some deadlift variation and 2) it is a waste of training resources for these people to have an entire day focusing on isolation work for small muscle groups like calves/traps/forearms.

At no point did I say that someone who really wants to focus on maximizing trap size should never do shrugs. Or that a bodybuilder shouldn’t isolate a muscle or use targeted lifts rather than larger compound movements.

But for someone whose goal is more overall size and strength (the vast majority of lifters), and is still relatively a beginner, I don’t see shrugs or wrist curls as important, at all. I’ll go one further – a lifter in that category who focuses on deadlifts and hang cleans and farmer walks and does zero shrugs or wrist curls will tend to have just as good trap and forearm development as a guy who devotes a day in his split to shrugs and wrist curls, but he will also have been training additional qualities via those compound lifts – full body strength, core stability, explosiveness, etc. If you are an advanced bodybuilder and don’t care about any of those things, then fine, do the isolation work and load up the volume, but I was never talking about advanced bodybuilders.
[/quote]

I’m surprised that you are taking this stance when you have previously lamented about guys in the gym being bigger but much “weaker” than you. You still believe it’s genetics rather than training approach?

I also don’t understand how one cannot develop full body strength etc, etc, by using a split. Bearing in mind that I have focused on “strength” training a lot in the past, this is something I would say sounds right in theory, but not in practice.

I happen to believe that starting with equal emphasis on all bodyparts and variety in exercises and rep ranges will set up a beginner for specialization in the powerlifts later if he so decides to take up the sport because then he will have far less weaknesses and sufficient muscle to focus on technical proficiency, but this would just be a theory of mine.[/quote]

I don’t really see what is surprising about my stance above. I do think genetics plays a large role, but I don’t see that I"m discounting “training approach” as an important factor simply by suggesting beginners incorporate deadlifts and not include days without a single compound lift in their split. These suggestions don’t preclude using a wide variety of training approaches in terms of exercise selection, total volume, rep range, rest periods, etc.

As for the strength factor, I do believe that getting strong on the powerlifts is not necessarily sufficient for building a complete physique. But that doesn’t mean that big basic movements that incorporate a lot of total muscle mass shouldn’t be the foundation of a beginner program. Or that increasing strength on these movements (and thereby, total volume) should be the primary goal for the first few years of training at least.

I also didn’t say that one can’t develop full body strength on a split. I don’t think that’s true at all. In the above post I was comparing deadlifts/cleans/farmer walks to wrist curls and shrugs, and I do think that the former lifts are simply better exercises for an early lifter to use. Because: wrist curls and shrugs are not going to develop full body strength (or explosiveness) while deadlifts and cleans are.

I really haven’t been talking about full-body routines vs split routines in this thread at all, but it seems I’m getting some of those arguments in response, which is odd. (5x5 vs bro-split). I guess I would say that a full-body or upper/lower split or push/pull/legs makes more sense to me as a beginner approach then a 5-day split like many of the Kingbeef ones, but that isn’t really the claim I’ve been making so far in this (long) thread.

[quote]Yogi wrote:
also, I think it’s pretty clear that rows and chins build way more upper back mass than deadlifts ever will[/quote]

Are you including traps in “upper back”? I have never felt stimulation in my traps from doing either rows or chins, and I’ve done lots of rows and chins.

That said, for the record, I never compared deadlifts to rows and chins. I love rows and chins, and obviously a deadlift isn’t going to stimulate much lat growth compared to a pull with the arms.

All I was saying re: deadlifts, which I really don’t think is that controversial, is that they are sufficient to build traps and a better use of training time than isolation trap movements for a beginner lifter.

I had a random guy come up to me in the gym a while back and ask me how to build traps. What was the first thing he had tried? Shrugs, obviously. But they weren’t working. Maybe he was doing them wrong. I don’t know. All I said to him was that for me, I just deadlifted heavy, and it seems to have worked. It’s kind of hard to fuck up a heavy deadlift and not have it load the traps with a lot of weight.

So, for a GENERAL LIFTER, if you had to choose 1 of the 2 – deadlift once a week in the 3-8 rep range for the next 2 years, adding weight to the bar OR include one day a week where you do 3 sets of barbell shrugs and 4 sets of wrist curls (per the Kingbeef split), which would you recommend?

My claim is that a guy who adds 200-300 lbs to his deadlift over a couple years will not only take care of trap development, he will contribute more to overall muscle growth than doing shrugs (because more total muscle mass involved in the lift), gain more total strength, introduce more metabolic demand each session, strengthen grip, etc etc.

What is a general lifter? I don’t know how much time you guys have spent talking to beginners, but they tend to not have a singular, simple goal. They tend to want to “get in shape”, “lose fat”, “build muscle” “get stronger” – beyond that, they don’t really know. And why should they, since they’ve NEVER LIFTED BEFORE. A specific goal is not necessarily appropriate.

The deadlift is simply a big, basic movement that uses a lot of muslce mass and has a large metabolic effect. I don’t get what is so crazy about suggesting most lifters incorporate it. Virtually every contributor to this site includes it in their published programs… and they don’t include a full day of isolation movements in a beginner split.

[quote]lift206 wrote:

[quote]craze9 wrote:
I agree, but I thought we were talking about the best “in general” approach for a lifter in his first few years of training.

To which I’m saying 1) it’s a good idea for most of these people to at least try doing deadlifts, or some deadlift variation and 2) it is a waste of training resources for these people to have an entire day focusing on isolation work for small muscle groups like calves/traps/forearms.

At no point did I say that someone who really wants to focus on maximizing trap size should never do shrugs. Or that a bodybuilder shouldn’t isolate a muscle or use targeted lifts rather than larger compound movements.

But for someone whose goal is more overall size and strength (the vast majority of lifters), and is still relatively a beginner, I don’t see shrugs or wrist curls as important, at all. I’ll go one further – a lifter in that category who focuses on deadlifts and hang cleans and farmer walks and does zero shrugs or wrist curls will tend to have just as good trap and forearm development as a guy who devotes a day in his split to shrugs and wrist curls, but he will also have been training additional qualities via those compound lifts – full body strength, core stability, explosiveness, etc. If you are an advanced bodybuilder and don’t care about any of those things, then fine, do the isolation work and load up the volume, but I was never talking about advanced bodybuilders.
[/quote]

This is a long response but I think itâ??ll clear things up. Itâ??s hard to keep the response short when tying in all together strength, hypertrophy, â??bodybuilding/isolation workâ??, â??general strengthâ??, a beginnerâ??s approach and training economy. I had the same view as you early on but it changed over time.

I don’t think we should limit what a beginner can do. Just because they are new shouldn’t mean they have to do one style of training. The one thing we know they can’t do is jump into a routine with a high workload because they simply aren’t ready. This doesnâ??t mean they are limited in frequency/set/rep scheme, type of progression, etc., as long as the workload is manageable and they can adapt. The most important things for a beginner are to have a clear goal, sound technique in whatever lifts they use to reach that goal, an effective training plan, and to get experience managing diet, recovery and stress.

The misunderstanding here is what hypertrophy and strength are used for. It’s common for people to think hypertrophy is to build pretty muscles and strength is to build the big 3 lifts. But really hypertrophy and strength are key components for an effective program with almost any goal related to muscles, movements and/or performance. A powerlifter should use hypertrophy and strength work to build the muscles and movements. A powerlifter can use curls to bring up their forearms and biceps if those muscles are lagging in stabilizing the elbows. We might call it ‘bodybuilding work’ but the purpose is to build the bench. That doesnâ??t mean a powerlifter needs to devote a lot of time to training biceps if most of the work comes from other pulling movements. Isolation work isn’t strictly for bodybuilders. It can be used for all strength athletes to support their goals. Oly lifters use isolation work to build their shoulders so it isnâ??t much different for them either. Isolation work can be used to bring up strength weaknesses, to get in easy volume, to stimulate muscles for conditioning or maintenance, for recovery, etc. in addition to aesthetics/growth. Sometimes the programming calls for isolation work, sometimes it doesnâ??t. Calves and forearms usually arenâ??t undertrained for powerlifters but getting traps as big and strong as possible will almost always help.

For beginners or someone in pursuit of general strength (as an example we can use powerlifting style training without intentions of competing), it becomes a chicken or the egg dilemma in terms of focusing on strength or hypertrophy (‘bodybuilding/isolation work’ falls into this category). If I had to start someone from scratch I would use both - it doesn’t matter what comes first. The person would learn to stabilize their shoulders, spine and hips to move big weights in any type of movement. I would utilize isolation work to build strength in many of the weak muscle groups and/or teach someone how to use certain muscles if they donâ??t know how and then teach the person how to integrate every muscle group into the movement over time. If they want a strong bench press then I would put a lot of emphasis in their upper back, shoulders, chest, lats and arms. The rest of the body is important but the muscle groups above will do the most work. I would have them doing a ton of pullups and rows to build back strength. A beginner will typically do pullups with their arms and not much upper back involvement so maybe starting off we would use lat pulldowns to teach them how to pull their shoulder blades down (thatâ??s why technique in every single lift a person does is important, not just the big 3 lifts). Is doing lat pulldowns with light weight and high reps bodybuilding work? From my point of view itâ??s just hypertrophy work supporting the trainee’s goal. Eventually I would have them cycling through light and heavy pulldowns as they progress to pullups.

Next is the training plan. People really underestimate the work they can do. This is also what T3h Pwnisher was alluding to. I bet if you did 5 pullups each day, it would have very little impact on your recovery. What if you did a bit more the next week because your body adapted and it felt easy? And you continued to add more. Thereâ??s also the common belief that you have to use a certain rep scheme. What if you just knocked off 1-2 reps at a time because it was more manageable that way? Do you think that over time adding 100 pullups each week to your training plan would be a bad thing? Even though the 100 reps were attained doing sets of 1-2 reps, is that a bad thing? Doing 1-2 reps doesn’t always have to mean a person is doing high intensity work because in this case it’s the opposite. It may affect performance if you do 100 reps right away and werenâ??t conditioned for it but if you built that additional work capacity over time, it wouldnâ??t make much of an impact on performance for your main work and you would get stronger. People often underestimate the importance of shoulder stabilization for building a big bench and the workload they are capable of. This is where we can agree to disagree that doing the extra upper back work is a waste of training resources because from my point of view the effort put in is minimal compared to the benefits. If you were trying to complete 100 reps in less than 10 sets and it were very taxing then yes the effort may not be worth it. But you donâ??t have to do it that way and this is where itâ??s important to learn that low intensity high volume work can be beneficial. Training economy isnâ??t just about sets/reps/weights, it must include effort and adaptation to different workloads and stimuli.

Youâ??ll hear successful bodybuilders say to train like a powerlifter and successful powerlifters say to train like a bodybuilder. All they mean is that hypertrophy and strength are both important and should be used in such a way to support the goal. Even a strength athlete that is yoked and has filled out his/her weight class will still include both these elements in his/her programming. From observing all the top powerlifters out there, I believe the goal should be to get every single muscle group bigger and stronger over time in addition to mastering technique to perform at a high level.

For the record, I also don’t think deadlifts are necessary for general strength. I would say a properly executed high bar squat is fine for general strength and fitness. IMO, there are easier ways to teach hip hinging and I wouldn’t introduce deadlifts until they learned to squat.[/quote]

Good post, but I feel like you didn’t exactly respond to what I’m saying. I wasn’t talking about strength vs hypertophy, or isolation vs compound, as general principles.

I’m making a relatively narrow claim about 1) the usefulness of deadlifts and 2) optimal workload and exercise selection in a body-part split for a beginner.

For example, you say we can agree to disagree about doing extra upper back work – I never said one shouldn’t do extra upper back work. I do upper back work every single session, even if just band pull-aparts. I’m also quite familiar with high frequency / volume loading, for example by doing submaximal pullups or handstand pushups every day. I have done these things, and they can work.

It seems you’re kind of articulating an overall philosophy about lifting, which I don’t necessarily disagree with, and am not sure what about it you think I’m opposed to.

[quote]craze9 wrote:
Good post, but I feel like you didn’t exactly respond to what I’m saying. I wasn’t talking about strength vs hypertophy, or isolation vs compound, as general principles.

I’m making a relatively narrow claim about 1) the usefulness of deadlifts and 2) optimal workload and exercise selection in a body-part split for a beginner.

For example, you say we can agree to disagree about doing extra upper back work – I never said one shouldn’t do extra upper back work. I do upper back work every single session, even if just band pull-aparts. I’m also quite familiar with high frequency / volume loading, for example by doing submaximal pullups or handstand pushups every day. I have done these things, and they can work.

It seems you’re kind of articulating an overall philosophy about lifting, which I don’t necessarily disagree with, and am not sure what about it you think I’m opposed to.
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Okay, I guess I got carried away. In any case it still depends purely on the person’s goal.

If general strength is the goal then deadlifts aren’t necessary because they add difficulty when paired with learning how to squat effectively. It is possible to learn to deadlift effectively first and then squat or even together but I believe that takes longer. When deadlifting it’s easier to use just the erectors and hamstrings when performing the movement and it takes much longer to remove the emphasis on these strong muscle groups so that more focus can be given to abs and all hip muscles which tend to be the weak/unused muscle groups in the general population. Yes the squat and deadlift can both build general strength but only if technique emphasizes stabilization throughout the body which transfers to other movements and general activities. Without stability, a person can be strong in the gym having decent squat or deadlift numbers but have minmial strength carryover when external loads are applied in different directions compared to those specific movements. I believe the squat is easier to teach and build general strength. Lifting heavy things through strongman work can also be effective because they can teach people how to stabilize the entire body but again technique is still important.

The workload and exercise selection depends on the beginner’s goal. If it’s strength and size they will still need to include hypertrophy and strength into the overall programming. They can do a cookie cutter program like Starting Strength or 5x5 but I would have to assess them for weaknesses and make corrections starting with low intensity work that could consist of compound or isolation exercises. Optimal workload and training economy doesn’t really matter if all the muscle groups aren’t being utilized which is related to technique. Training for overall strength and addressing weaknesses should occur simultaneously from the very beginning of a lifter’s career - this doesn’t mean that a person shouldn’t be pushing hard to get stronger because they think they have so many weaknesses to work on. It’s common for a beginner to ask what their strengths and weaknesses are but the real question should be what’s the biggest weakness and which muscles aren’t being used. It takes experience knowing how to address problems for long term results while still pushing for progress. I’m not saying I’m an expert but this is how I would approach it if I had to coach my younger self. I started off doing deadlifts with only my erectors and hamstrings and it took years to unlearn.

A beginner can learn stabilization even before touching a barbell. The problem with Starting Strength is that the name implies it is the program for a person to start strength training with but I don’t believe this is the optimal way. Regardless, I can understand why people use it since I can’t really think of other well-known cookie cutter programs out there for beginners who can’t hire a coach. The program is fine if the person has built a foundation before using this program. Starting strength itself isn’t a foundation for strength.