Being strong is fun. Demonstrating strength is fun. Being weak is not very fun. As lifters, it’s natural for us to gravitate toward the exercises that come easy to us, and tempting to avoid altogether the exercise variations that make us struggle.
As I reflect upon my strength training career, I realize that I’ve engaged in a lifetime of exercise avoidance. Let me elaborate.
When I first started lifting at the age of 15, I couldn’t perform squats, deadlifts, chin ups, or dips. I didn’t know how to work my way into them either, not understanding how to start at remedial variations and progressing gradually. Therefore, I omitted them from my workouts. Back then, I loved all isolation and machine exercises as they didn’t require coordination or stability. My routines were comprised of leg presses, leg extensions, leg curls, push-ups, military press, incline press, bench press, barbell curls, seated rows, pec deck, lat pulldowns, tricep extensions, shrugs and lateral raises. It wasn’t until I was 19 years old when I started squatting, chinning, and dipping, and 21 years old when I started deadlifting. If only I knew then what I know now, I could have progressed much more rapidly!
Fast-forward a decade. I recall the first time I experimented with safety squat bar squats. The safety squat bar really revealed my weaknesses and forced me to use much lighter loads. What do you think I did – stick with them and attack my weaknesses, or avoid them like the plague? You guessed it. I dismissed them and avoided programming them into my regimen. Come to think of it, I did the same thing with high bar squats, trap bar deadlifts, pistol squats, and single leg RDLs, and close grip bench presses when I first learned them. Notice the pattern? If an exercise variation caused me to move down in weight compared to other variations or struggle with coordination, I kicked it to the curb rather than buckling down and sticking it out.
Today I have an article that posted on TNation that elaborates on this topic and gives you some issues in structural balance to consider. Please click HERE to continue reading.