We can begin to piece together a training trajectory.
By and large, for a noob, the biggest lever, the thing that’ll make the most impact, is increasing maximal strength.
- you can get bigger during the process of building strength, and
- you have a greater potential to build muscle with more strength, and
- your endurance and fuck you strength are at the mercy of max strength,
it’s where you should focus.
This is why I like picking out a handful of meat and tater barbell and bodyweight exercises that are going to build the kind of body you want to have from a physique and performance standpoint, and then slow cooking their strength progress.
It usually centers around.
- PUSH-UPS -> PARALLEL BAR DIPS
- BW ROWS -> PULL-UPS
- BARBELL PRESSES
- DUMBBELL PULLS
- BARBELL SQUAT VARIANTS
- BARBELL PULLS FROM THE FLOOR
And this is where a lot of people spend their time, worrying about this facet of training.
But a more important question, and one related to the above, is this: are you prepared to dive into this training?
It’s easy to look at barbell squatting and say, “Okay, Mr. Mychal said this is good so I’m going to go to the gym and do barbell squats.”
Cool. But have you done any bodyweight squats in the past decade of your life? How many?
What kills progress more than anything else, IMO, is injuries. And although some injuries are unpredictable, a lot of injuries stem from improper preparation.
You start squatting and your knee starts to get sore and feels strange. You start benching and your shoulder acts up.
These are preparation problems.
And there are two aspects of preparation you should look at:
Tolerance being very similar to that whole hyperbolic-fuck-you thing — how well can your tissues handle the ABSORB-PROPULSION of the force through a given movement?
This translates into: don’t squat 200 pounds when you can’t yet squat 100 pounds. It makes sense once you get to weight on the bar, but I think there’s a lot more under the surface.
Building a solid foundation is important if you’ve been sedentary, and usually requires some high rep high volume exercise at a level that probably isn’t insanely challenging.
Here’s an example…
I’ve been on the fence about training for one-arm chin-ups. I’ve experimented with training for them in the past. I dove right into one-arm chin-up variants and such, only to have my elbow immediately flare up.
Now, there are a lot of people that say you can’t learn the one-arm chin-up without flirting with elbow pain, but I was no where near prepared.
So I started doing some easy one-arm bodyweight rows every day. I started with ten, then moved to twenty, then to thirty. Never gut busting effort. Slowly increasing the stress.
This would be like starting 5×5 bodyweight squats and then building into 5×30 bodyweight squats over the span of one month, as opposed to just diving into 5 reps with the bar, which weighs 45 pounds.
It’s really easy to fumble around in this type of training for a long time. Always asking yourself if you’re ready and prepared and being worried about getting injured.
You don’t want to do that. But you also don’t want to neglect it completely.