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Rear Wheel Drive

June 3, 2002 01:17 PM

Today's media has glamorized the male torso in print, TV, and the film arena. Male models and actors exhibit physical development that represents a cosmetic Yin devoid of a practical, tactical yang. In fact, a physical comparison between a fitness mag cover boy and Sandow would reveal two extreme ends of the genetic keyboard. One would be a high-pitched tinkle, the other, a rumbling bass. This vast disparity is a product of misguided cosmetic training. A strength-oriented athlete trains to improve function and lets the visual aesthetics fall where they may. The difference between a cover boy and a strength athlete is a dramatic one, like the difference between tweezers and pliers.

Geographically speaking our eyes and mouth are on the front of our head. Humans recognize and interact to each other fact to face. Now, since print is one dimensional, and film is two dimensional, the focus on frontal, eye level muscularity is profound. The male fitness model look has the stamp of a health spa body. Overdeveloped pectorals, biceps, lateral delts, abdominals, combined with meager lats and some quadriceps. This is all wrong. Let an athlete/warrior/soldier work hard at their given function and the physical stimulus will be almost one hundred eighty degrees opposite. A functional human animal will have their engine in the rear. From posterior neck to Achilles tendons, the locomotion, climbing and lifting engines will be both functional and cosmetically symmetrical to the trained eye (and very few eyes are trained!). Think about it.

Enter a modern, co-ed, all age group fitness facility and notice what tools are being used. First and foremost is the bench press station. These are usually manned by three young men playing tag with an Ivanko barbell for well over an hour. Second, would be the curling machine and Scott benches. Third choice is the seated press or the pulldown machine. Now, throw and some crunches and a complimentary session on the leg extension or leg press machine and you have the workout of eighty to ninety percent of the commercial fitness lemmings. The funny thing is, these health junkies are the first to complain of bad backs, bad knees, and uncontrollable carbohydrate binges. So much for modern training methods.

The true strength athlete must train the posterior chain. These muscles are out of view, but require that one hundred ten percent solution to train with superhuman focus. You will put yourself in the upper crust of trainees if you can force your quadratus lumborum into multiple, heavy, reps. Hell, you will be one in a hundred if you can LOCATE you quadratus lumborum.

A carefully constructed training program would focus on that neurological gold mine, the deadlift. Any and all Kettlebell snatches, cleans, step ups, lunges, pistols and overhead work force muscles into effort that forever remain virgins in a machine dominated fitness scene. Weighted chins, grip work, and neck work should be a mainstay rather than a foreign language. Mention oblique work to a wasp waisted cardboard man, and he will run. Mention it to a discus thrower or Judo man and he will demonstrate his own variation. And remember, even the sissy exercises can be turned into functional ones with enough mental toughness. Remember football great Herschel Walker?? He did crunches, 3000 a day. They were interspersed with straight legged situps, one and two armed pushups, chinups, karate, and running his sprints chased by a pitbull pulling a tire (pitbulls like tough training too -look at their hindquarters!). How about Pat Casey, the first man to Bench Press 600 pounds? He fiddled with dumbells. He used two hundred forty pounders for incline presses. Arm wrestler Cleve Dean played around with light weights too. He dragged around one thousand pound boars in his pig farm with his own four hundred pound frame. I wonder if he has ever been in a room full of chrome weights?

The point I am making, like a hot metal spike, is to manipulate heavy objects against gravity, and let your body accommodate, adapt, and strengthen. Don't think of body parts, but of gross motor movements. Leg thrust, lower body flexion, upper body pushing, upper body pulling, and torso extension. Tack on grip, neck and real world abdominal training, and let the myofibrils do their thing. Make arm day, leg day, and chest day go the way of big hair and Miami Vice. Those Chippendale clones with tanned torsos and licorice stick legs should only exist in comic strips and comedy skits. Train Hard.