^^ Nice post from magick
What follows is a bit of a rant:
People here lose sight of what constitutes strong/big, because they get caught up in the powerlifting/strongman strength standards that very few people outside the internet/Tnation are capable of. This is in no way a dig at the guys in other forums here. Some of the strength these guys are able to display is awe-inspiring.
Trying to hold yourself to those standards is futile though, unless you are extremely genetically gifted, it would be pointless judging yourself by those measures. For example, I used to do construction with a bloke who was my height, 6’1, and 17 stone (238lbs), with visible abs. This guy had been to the gym once in 10 months, never taken a steroid, and lives off pies, cereal and jam sandwiches.
He could also walk into the gym on any given day and squat, deadlift, bench etc more than I ever could, with the best diet and training plan, and 10 years hard training under my belt. A guy like that, with the right training an diet, could start getting towards some of the big numbers we see here on Tnation. Unless you have those genes though, you need to appreciate that some humans are just built for moving massive amounts of weight through certain paths of motion.
That is not to say normal people are wasting their time getting bigger and stronger, and that it isn’t possible to be big and strong even without stellar genetics for it. This is particularly true of all those training for self-defense/survival purposes. Despite everything in the preceding paragraph, self-defense/fighting outside of a sporting context does seem to be a great equaliser. As Sento rightly pointed out, bigger and stronger gives you the means to endure more (by and large) and possibly apply more force. That said, the strength displayed in a powerlifting meet, and the strength required to restrain/pacify even a 160lb man of average height who has no intention of being held, are two very different things. Outside of a very controlled environment, where weight is moved through a few very fixed ranges of motion, the variables increase exponentially.
All of the above is a rather convoluted way of saying that strength standards, whilst not totally redundant, have to be taken with a pinch of salt, and viewed within the context they were intended to be applied. You’ll read all over this site that if you’re over 6’ an under 200lbs, your a malnourished, untrained weakling who needs to spend 2 years bulking and doing a prescribed set of lifts before you become big enough to be called a man. The reality though, in my experience, is rather different. Whilst strength is important, the type of strength you develop, how you apply it, and, crucially, the duration for which you are able to apply it, are all more important, in my opinion, than absolute strength.
For self-defence/warrior/fight type strength, I personally believe lower weights with odd objects are far more beneficial than developing high degrees of linear strength through typical barbell training. With that said, I also believe partials are invaluable. I’m not against a base level of strength and mass being developed through barbells, and I use them myself. If you want to develop fighting strength, a lot more time needs to be devoted to the less aesthetic muscles and tendons - grip, neck, core, hips and arse. On top of this, it’s essential to have a very high degree of conditioning. Conditioning really is king when it comes to fighting. Limit strength is great, but if it’s all you’ve got, you really need to close things out in the first few seconds if you’re going to win. By contrast, if you have a high base of CV fitness, you are able to endure and apply your strength more consistently over a longer period. To illustrate, I helped work a door one night, and due to my naivety, ended up having to subdue a very big, very pissed off customer by myself. I was nowhere near as heavy or as strong as him, but I was big enough, and strong enough, to hold on and force him to apply his strength from a disadvantaged position. When he wasn’t able to shake me off, and had thrashed around for probably less than 30 seconds, he literally quit and asked for mercy because he was breathing so heavily he must have been close to a heart attack. This story isn’t meant as a brag - fighting a very large, extremely well conditioned man is not a prospect I relish, but it does serve to illustrate that strength in the gym on a few key lifts doesn’t necessarily translate to being a stone cold killer in a scrap (not saying I am personally).
Essentially the takeaways are:
Strength is good, mass is good, both should be trained for if you don’t have a weightclass to make. However, when it comes to fighting, most people will get more out of a sandbag get up than they will a bench press. And someone who can still do SB get ups for reps with a 100lb sand bag at the end of a long conditioning session is, to me, a scarier prospect than someone who can warm up to a big number in a barbell squat/bench etc, even if they don’t have such pretty muscles, and even if they weigh less than 200lbs.
Be fit enough to make your strength count. There will always be someone bigger and stronger. If that person has no engine, then you only need enough strength to endure to the point that the strength they are able to exhibit drops below the strength you are still able to apply. Being fit also let’s you take a better shot - look at any extremely well conditioned fighter (eg B-Hop), and look at how few knockdowns they’ll have on their record.
Skill is awesome, and reigns supreme, whilst at the same time, to my mind, being the icing on the cake. When there are no rules and no refs, I’d sure as hell like to be big enough and fit enough for skill to be a luxury. If skill is all you’ve got, you can still be overwhelmed by a vast disparity in size and ability to usefully apply strength. In my opinion, small increases in strength and size can have a significant effect on this disparity.
Really good post, well written and insightful. Furo: LB,Sento, and Magick nailed this one. I am, by no means, a S&C expert, but, I do know this from experience from working the street. If a “fight” or someone actively resisting you, goes past ONE minute, you are in trouble and your conditioning will be the extremely important. You gas on the street and you end up badly beaten or dead. So, IMHO: Skill, Conditioning, then Strength.