T Nation


I told my old rowing coach about Pavel Tsatsouline’s ‘squeeze the bar’ trick when doing upper body lifts and & the whole idea behind it and he (the coach) basically said that it wouldn’t work. Pavel also says to tighten your whole body when squatting. My coach said that when he was training he’d try to concentrate only on the muscles he needed & totally relax everything else, even when squatting, which was rarely (he’s a staunch diehard leg presser). I don’t really see how you’d lift huge weights by trying to get rid of muscle tension. My point is, I go to this guy with something I thought he’d find interesting because he works out, and he hardly even listens, like he already knows everything that can be known. So I told him about Pavel’s background, the guys he trained and the things they could do, and he just says ‘aw, well all russians have some heavy-duty “pharmaceutical assistance”’ or something just cause they’re from russia. Anyway, I give Pavel a big thumbs up, even if my narrow closed-minded coach doesn’t. now i feel better

You won’t lift huge weights be relaxing the muscles that are not directly involved. See what happens if you relax your abs during a max squat. Listen to Pavel and people like Dave Tate, Louie Simmons and Fred Hatfield (among others) if you’re looking to move big weights.

This is just 2 different schools of thought between 2 different camps, bodybuilding vs strength training. A bodybuilder oftentimes wants to eliminate excess tension in the body so that more of the stress goes to the targeted muscle…example…elevating the feet when performing lying dumbell flyes.
A powerlifter or weightlifter is not concerned about the muscles being worked but with the weight being lifted so the powerlifter will try to engage as many other muscles as possible when lifting to assist with the lift.example…digging the feet into the ground and contracting the entire body during a max bench press attempt.
The sad thing is when someone like your coach doesn’t know the differences or the benefits of training in either fashion.