Filed under: Training
Everyone knows the saying “work smarter not harder”, and it is often translated in lifting circles to “train smarter not harder”. OK, great saying, but people have taken training smarter as training so carefully they aren’t even breaking a sweat. Even worse, people have taken to believe in the crap put out by so many tv “experts” and pseudo-celebrities to be training smart. Watching some of the exercise videos put out by pseudo-celebrities and even worse, those trainers of celebrities, makes me embarrassed to even be associated with that aspect of the industry.
In one recent video the demonstrator was wearing high heels! Tell me how is that working smart or hard? It is dumb, dangerous and also completely useless as a training methodology. The training smart part of the equation means having sound technique, training for your goals, and knowing your limits and when to back off. It does NOT mean training with 2lb pink dumbbells.
There are also the people who think training hard trumps everything. While it is true that I will take someone busting their ass on a crappy training program over someone training at a moderate intensity to the greatest designed program of all time, intensity isn’t everything. I’ve seen people train superhard that are just all over the place. Their technique is piss-poor, their exercise selection is atrocious and they generally just look like they are going to hurt themselves at any moment.
It doesn’t matter what training program you are doing, Cross-Fit, Warp Speed Fat Loss, Maximum Strength, etc, you need to find that balance between training hard and training smart. Long term health isn’t just about working hard and making yourself sweat. It is about doing the exercises properly, utilizing them for their intended benefit and making yourself sweat in the process. A perfect example is any type of rowing variation. Rows are awesome not only for back development, but for postural correction as well. With our always-seated, forward-head position and kyphotic upper back posture population, proper rowing can go a very long way to improve that posture, but only if properly executed. Go to any commercial gym and you will see all types of people working really hard on rowing way more weight than they can possibly handle with good form, or people just going through the motions. Neither will elicit the intended effect. Eric has some awesome videos demonstrating how NOT to row:
Doing a row with technique like these will not actually improve proper scapular function or upper body posture, it could actually exacerbate it. For muscle heads out there, it won’t develop the back properly either. Learning how to properly depress your shoulder blades is essential for long-term shoulder health. Doing it incorrectly with far too much weight is only going to cause problems (I am looking at the men reading this). Doing it correctly with an appreciable amount of weight, relative to the lifter, is also the only way for it to work, as it actually has to be difficult (yes I am looking at you ladies). I am not trying to be sexist or stereotypical, but I have been in enough gyms and trained enough people to know that those stereotypes do apply to the majority.
The correct technique for a cable row (and all rowing really):
Chest out, chin straight, squeezing the shoulder blades together down and back. The point is that people need to learn to harness that intensity (or find it) and apply it with control to a well thought out long-term plan to maximal results for health, weight loss, muscle gain or athletic performance. I say rather than training smarter not harder, do both.
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