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.
This is a long response but I think itÃ¢??ll clear things up. ItÃ¢??s hard to keep the response short when tying in all together strength, hypertrophy, Ã¢??bodybuilding/isolation workÃ¢??, Ã¢??general strengthÃ¢??, a beginnerÃ¢??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 doesnÃ¢??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 doesnÃ¢??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 isnÃ¢??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 doesnÃ¢??t. Calves and forearms usually arenÃ¢??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 donÃ¢??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 (thatÃ¢??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 itÃ¢??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. ThereÃ¢??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 werenÃ¢??t conditioned for it but if you built that additional work capacity over time, it wouldnÃ¢??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 donÃ¢??t have to do it that way and this is where itÃ¢??s important to learn that low intensity high volume work can be beneficial. Training economy isnÃ¢??t just about sets/reps/weights, it must include effort and adaptation to different workloads and stimuli.
YouÃ¢??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.