Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Do what you're weak at, or emphasize strong points?

One piece of advice you'll hear for weight training is, "do what you suck at." In other words, if you're weak at a given lift, do that to get stronger.

If you only work on your strong points, you'll become more and more unbalanced and let your weak points get weaker. Good bencher, poor deadlifter? If you keep benching and benching, it'll go up, but your deadlift isn't going to improve. If you are very strong but have iffy endurance, try some longer rep sets or circuits to build up your ability to move weight over and over. Great endurance but you are weak? Drop the higher reps and get some heavy weights moving.

The other side of this is the idea that you should play to your strengths. Good at lifting heavy? Then lift heavy. Good at endurance? Emphasize endurance.

In life and in athletics, the people who get ahead are the ones who leverage their strong points. Think Michael Jordan playing in the NBA vs. playing pro baseball. For all of his athleticism and determination, it's his basketball skills that showed through, not his baseball skills. His batting wasn't very good, but he chose to emphasize his strong points (basketball) and took home, what, like 6 championships? He played to his strength.

But in the gym, the advice is the opposite. If you've got a strong chest and a weak back, you need to work on your back. If you've got a strong set of legs and weak arms, maybe some heavy work on your upper body will help even out your development.

When you go the gym, do you play to your strengths or try to improve your weak points? And why?

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