“But you have to start somewhere, and that somewhere should not be in front of the dumbbell rack or on the treadmill. Dumbbells and treadmills do not make you stronger, so stop pretending that you can do this the easy way. It’s going to take some time and the right equipment, but you’re an adult and you can get this done. Now is the time to start.”
— This Is Where You Should Start Your New Year’s Strength Training Resolution by Mark Rippetoe*
The Science: MAXIMUM STRENGTH
Mark Rippetoe is the king of the cut-to-the-chase in strength training; in both his training programming and article writing. We should all take that lead when it comes to training (or anything we want to do effectively) so let’s cut to the chase.
As Ripp says here, the dumbbell rack, the treadmill, kettlebells, all the exercise “machines”, calisthenics, and exercise classes alone aren’t going to get anyone to any real goal. All of those means can have their place in an exercise regimen, but the foundation must be a well organized barbell program.
Maximum strength increases from proper barbell work to make all other exercises more effective. The major barbell lifts are the only way to increase maximum strength consistently and continuously over a long period of time. Higher maximum strength supercharges all other exercise for other purposes. If your max strength is higher, you will be able to use heavier weights for hypertrophy work (barbell or dumbbell).
The same goes for power work. If max strength is increased while body weight is held stable, relative strength is increased. This is the crucial variable for endurance athletes, and can even improve performance in exercise classes, if that’s your thing. If you are into kettlebells, increased max strength will make the KBs feel lighter, thus immediately improving performance.
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