What if I told you that benching 400 pounds was more than strengthening the upper body? In October, I posted the original How to Bench 400 Pounds (Not What You May Think) over at Freak Strength. Consider this an update.
My background in tricking, which is rooted in gymnastics, makes me think that I have a certain appreciation for movement. I was by no means a “good” trickster, but I feel that flipping, twisting, and contorting in mid-air has given me a certain kinesthetic sense that I wouldn’t otherwise have. That, and the fact that I’ve been training both outside and barefoot since 2001. (Yes, I was a pioneer of these cool ideas.)
I was taken aback when Dan John centered an entire article around graceful movement. It just made sense to me, especially after observing so many athletes. But movement, let alone graceful movement, isn’t something modern “strength and conditioning” coaches emphasize. How do I know this? Because I would be seeing a lot less stock put into barbells, and a lot more focus put into movement. What kind of movement? All of it, really. But mainly gymnastics.
Luckily I don’t have to spew this out because Andreas Thorkildsen showcases my ideas for me. There was a video recently released video highlighting more of Thorkildsen’s training. After watching, you would think Thorkildsen was a gymnast. Nope, he’s a javelin thrower. And to reiterate the point I made in the first version of this article, which is a quote from Carl Valle
Clearly a 400 pound bench press is impressive for his frame, but I think he gets a lot out of that lift because of his total body coordination.
There’s more to “strength and conditioning” than traditional barbell work. The question remains: what can be done to make you a better athlete? This isn’t always the same thing that will make you a better weightlifter. Start the movement of moving. Cartwheels? Why not. Forward and backward rolls? Absolutely. If it teaches you where your body is in space it can’t be a bad thing.