By Tyler Bramlett
It’ is well known in strength circles that the abilities of men in the past far exceed the abilities of even our strongest men today. Why is it that with greater technology, better understanding of the human body and a firm understanding of biochemistry we are becoming weaker and weaker?
In this article I want to identify the top 11 things you are possibly doing every day that are preventing you from getting stronger, living longer and looking good naked.
Let’s get started.
# 1 – Not Lifting Enough Weight
You may think your lifting heavy, but compare yourself to the weightlifting legends of the past. Guys like John Grimek, Henry Stineborn, Arthur Saxon, Eugene Sandow and Herman Goerner. Can you curl 200lbs, how about strict press 300lbs or more? In the days before squat racks Henry “Milo” Steinborn could pick a 550lb barbell off the ground lean it onto his shoulders, perform a set of squats and then return it to the ground. Can you do even 50% of this?
If not you may need to focus on lifting heavy more often. Try to get as close to these following numbers as possible and you will be considered a strong man. 600lb deadlift, 500lb squat, 400lb bench press, 300lb clean and press, 200lb curl, 200lb bent press, 150lb one arm snatch. Go test your maxes in these 7 lifts right now and see how far you are from world class!
# 2 – Not Doing Enough Volume Training With Heavy Weights
Lifting heavy is crucial, but in order to get good lifting heavy you must also practice with heavy weights. I was having a discussion with my good friend Logan Christopher recently and we both agreed that the biggest hole in both of our games was training hard moves for high volume.
Now, this doesn’t mean repping out to failure but rather taking a challenging movement like pressing to handstand or clean and jerking 85% of your max weight and repeating it over and over again until it becomes easy. Take any move you really want to be good at and choose a challenging weight or progression and practice it over and over until you master it and it feels easy!
# 3 – Not Doing Enough Bodyweight Strength Training
Almost every great strongman of the past did some form of bodyweight training. The great wrestlers of India used bodyweight training to build their great strength and endurance and many of the old time strongmen used bodyweight training to bulletproof their joints and make them stronger and livelonger. So, what should you focus on?
Here’s my top 5 bodyweight movements, handstand progressions, bridging progressions, hip and leg strength drills, pullup progressions and abdominal progressions. What are these progressions? Check out #4…
# 4 – Not Using Proper Movement Progressions
The basic principal behind movement progression is that you should always be making the movements you are working on harder and harder. A simple way to think about this is in gymnastics. You don’t go for the iron cross on the first day, instead you follow a intelligently designed movement progression mastering each exercise along the way until you are the proud owner of the iron cross. For more info on this check out a new product I created called the warrior warm up a 5 step guide to mastering movement.
# 5 – Not Staying Flexible Enough
Flexibility is highly underrated in the strength world of today. Very few strong men I meet have a good degree of flexibility. In fact the only 2 that come to mind are Pavel Tsatsouline and Bud Jeffries. If you can deadlift over 500lbs and do the side splits, ignore this section, otherwise listen up!
In order for you to stay lifting in your older years, you need to build flexibility. Being flexible will reduce your chances of injuries and keep you moving for longer and longevity is the name of the game. Stretch daily and make sure you work on the following 5 stretches; Pike Stretch, Gymnast Bridge, Front Splits, Side Splits and Downward Dog.
# 6 – Not Doing Enough Variety (Or Doing Too Much Variety)
Old timers all had their pet lifts, but that didn’t stop them from practicing other moves in hopes to build their balance strength and coordination. This one is quite simple. Master a handful of moves, write down 5 different things you need to accomplish before you die and work on those 5 huge goals as often as possible. From there have fun, cross train and enjoy trying different movements. This way you can have your focus but still practice variety.
# 7 – Always Working To Your Max
Working to your max or working to failure sends your body a very distinct message. It says you are always close to failure or even worse in a bodybuilders case you are failing to lift this weight. The easiest way to get discouraged and lose momentum is to fail when you are exercising. So follow this simple rule…
Never fail on an exercise, always leave when you have succeeded. I know from personal experience how many different times I thought I could add juts 5 more lbs to the bar and then failed. Take your PR’s and walk, that’s the bottom line!
# 8 – Not Using The Best Movements
Obviously some exercises are better then others, if this wasn’t the caste then every dumbbell benching meathead would be all around strong rather then looking like he has toothpicks for legs. Pick exercises that work the whole body and work them hard. From there train your weak links (usually the hands and core) and you are good to go.
Here are some of the best exercises you can choose to master; snatches, clean and presses or jerks, deadlifts, squats, bench pressing, dips, handstand pushups, pullups, bridging gymnastics, bent presses, etc. Look to the exercises that used to be done in the 1800’s to find a comprehensive list of awesome drills you should use
# 9 – Eating Low Quality Foods
Fueling your body poorly will hinder you from making any real progress. The old timers ate piles of high quality natural food and did nothing else. So fuel your body with high quality organic foods and focus on eating the foods with the most bang for the buck.
Here are my favorite muscle building foods: Organ meats (liver, kidneys etc.), bone broths, all meat, fish and eggs, all veggies, some fruits, nuts and seeds, high quality grass fed dairy and superfoods like pine pollen, goji berries and more.
# 10 – Not Focusing On Recovery
To sustain hard training you also have to be an expert at recovery. Many of the strongmen of the past did this for a living. Meaning they woke up, lifted weights, practiced bodyweight movements, worked their grip, ate good food and then rested, stretched, got massages, took cold baths and slept as much as they could.
If you want to be strong healthy and recover well from your workouts, make sure you stretch, get periodic massages, sleep well and focus on how well you are recovering. Someone once told me that there is no such thing as overtraining, just under recovering, I believe this!
# 11 - Ignoring Your Internal Energy
The shaolin monks probably are one of the best examples of mastering their internal energy or life force. Their focused meditation allows them to perform superhuman feats of strength and endurance. You need this too!
In order to build your vital life force and increase your ability to perform the impossible I highly recommend a minimum of 10 minutes a day collecting energy. This doesn’t have to be in the form of a seated meditation. You can instead go for a walk (preferably barefoot), and breathe deep, imagining your are inhaling white light and then exhaling all the bad stuff.
Guys like Bud Jeffries and Logan Christopher are mixing meditative practices and energy work within their training to enhance their strength and power. Try adding in 10 deep breathes before each heavy lift and see what it does for your overall training.
Well, there you have it, the 11 things I see that could be holes in your game. But I don’t want to leave you empty handed and feeling depressed because you don’t measure up to the men of the past. So here is what I want you to do so you can get the best results from this information.
1. Identify which of the 11 things you are weakest in
2. Write a plan to change that weak link and apply it for 21 days
3. Revisit this list and identify the next weakest link
4. Write a plan to change that weak link and apply it for 21 days
That’s all there is too it, Good luck!
Tyler Bramlett is the creator of www.garagewarrior.com a Blog dedicated to helping people get stronger, live longer, look good naked, find your purpose and live the life of your dreams. He is a highly knowledgeable expert in performance based training, nutrition, psychological motivation and he is the author of The Warrior Warm Up which can be found at www.thewarriorwarmup.com