Understanding Why Compound Movements Work and What to Focus On in Training.

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by A-Unit, Oct 17, 2006.

  1. A-Unit

    A-Unit Master Don Juan

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    Why Changes are More Noticeable with Compound Movements


    If you're the average guy, say 165 (that's average male, not some of you 200-250 behemouths with great genetics), at say 15% bodyfat, which is about average, too...you're body composition is as following...

    165 x .15% = 24.75lbs
    Leaving 140.25 pounds of muscle, organs, bone, water, blood, etc.

    We'll assume for the sake of analysis the full 140 is Muscle to keep it simple.

    If 75% of that is found in the average person in the LEGS and BACK, that equates to 105 pounds of LEG/BACK muscle, this includes the calves, hamstrings, upper and lower back. The span of that muscle is quite large. Even a 1% increase is easy to come by in the back; that's only 1lb. Yet we end up doing Cart Wheels JUST for that extra pound!

    In life, the philosophy is the 80/20 rule. 20% of "something" will equate to 80% of "something else." That being said, would you focus your workouts on the stuff that makes you BIGGER, FASTER, with less effort, or would you to the 25% that doesn't effect much weight?

    The Biceps, Triceps, Chest, Shoulders, Abs, and Neck, while nice to look at, don't contain much dense muscle. In this example, it would contain roughly 35lbs, spread out. A 1% increase in mass in those regions equates to .35 pounds, and would be BARELY noticeable. YET, most gym-goers focus THERE. A 1% increase in bodymass IS NOT hard. Day in and day out people add FAT. With the right stimulation it should be EASY, if we eat properly to add MUSCLE mass. It only takes STIMULATION to jump start the muscle to grow, and constant-ever increasing STIMULATION to continue growth positively.

    So you can add 1% to the 105. OR...
    Add 1% to the 35. There's a HUGE discrepancy, yet I see people all the time, even on MACHINES for the chest. To me, that's a double whammy for someone without a nice base of muscle spread between the BACK, LEGS, and CHEST/SHOULDERS/BICEPS/TRICEPS. Not only are you losing a bit using machines, but the chest, while great looking, can't physically make you appear different, can't materially effect other aspects of your body from a strength perspective (like squats and deads can), and won't appreciably add mass fast to your frame, if that's your goal.

    Squating and Deadlifting WILL add strength to your bench, explosiveness to your movements, mass to your frame, release hormones for growth AND recovery, and much, much more. I am not saying this entirely to coax anyone to alter their routine, but to look at this from the vantage point of efficiency, productivity, and logic...squating and deadlifting JUST MAKE SENSE. Most people bust away on machines and/or dumbbells, but when you do something, LEVERAGE the movement and see if what you're doing will accomplish this task FASTER.

    See the simple stuff in lifting doesn't sell magazines, personal trainers, OR supplements, but it works. Business is business, and the exercise industry is big business. If there ever were to be a product with a super long life cycle, you'd never hear about it because it would not bring profit to companies in the long-run. It would require companies to continually invent if they wanted to drive profits, or to cut back to drive earnings. Same apply heres...The simple stuff, upon which all bodybuilding was founded, came from the Deads, Squats, Dips, Pullups, Chinups, and Bench press. MOST bodybuilders these days and true huge men came from backgrounds that emphasized these lifts, such as football, where linebackers and lineman do big lifts to move big men. Few guys enter bodybuilding and build great bodies on bicep barbell curls without gear.

    When you see squats and deads from HOW they impact your body, 1lb to your legs and back over 2-4 weeks IS NOT MUCH. And it isn't noticeable, BUT you will FEEL it in all your lifts, in the way you walk, and on the scale. That's why it's so BEAUTIFUL! If you were to gain an inch of PURE muscle on your bicep's, it could take MONTHS (I made the distincton between PURE muscle and water/fat, because many times it gets confused, just because it's grown). But, to grow the back and legs little by little, every 2 weeks to 4 is quite easy. Even each week you grow, but not so much that it's widely apparent. I pointed out 1% increase because it's MUCH more feasible to gain 1% in the legs and back, and the TRUE increase in POUNDS is much more powerful, than a 1% increase in the other muscle.


    What To Focus On In Training. (Thought)

    Size, to me, at a point, is irrelevant. I know guys who lift, that when compared to pure genetic freaks who don't, aren't strong. And I know wrestlers, that are still tougher and stronger at their size, minus the obvious musculature. If you want big muscles, regardless of strength, go for it, but MUSCLE exists because the individual IS STRONG. The difference being, some people are not conditioned, and therefore their muscle isn't FUNCTIONAL. I.e. USEFUL. Sure, nice to look at, but they can't run, they can't lift a guy in a fight or wrestle, and they'd wrench their back if they lifted a non-gym based object.

    When you're lifting FOCUS on your strength GAINS, not your perceived SCALE or MIRROR gains. Not only does that boost your confidence, especially if you're doing the major lifts and the few other true babies, but it also denotes progress. Whatever size you see in the mirror or don't see can be the mind confusing you, or could be the post workout pump, or DOMS. Unless it LASTS, it isn't real. Sometimes it's water weight, or added fat, or food in the belly backed up. Sure a 10lb muscle increase is nice, but if you stopped lifting there, you'd lose it soon anyways.

    Strength, to me, is the ONLY measure. I don't care if you're bigger or stronger than me, I only care about MY personal bests, about MY progress, and about MY lifts coming up this week. And if you're focusing on STRENGTH, you'll be on the right path to building a great body and a functional one that won't be wrecked if you lift a chair the wrong way. I realize you can go for sole strength, like CNS-type strength as the powerlifters do, but even their base of Muscle is incredible, a base which ANY bodyuilder would take (Dave Gulledge, a gentleman who has great genetics, still used powerlifting almost entirely).

    The bodybuilding of today is a perverted form of what WAS successful, just like most things in existence now. In the race to build bigger, better, faster models, we've lost sight of what the REAL goal is. Muscle ON the body is the result of STRENGTH within a given rep range and continual progress. If we're not using muscle and building it, it has no purpose to grow and exist on us, and therefore, it will go away.

    The other reason to focus on strength is because, many guys give up once they reach some higher level of where their body is at, but it won't remain there very long. Say you've never weighed 170lbs, and you've now gained 10lbs from 160. Many guys would be thrilled with that and stop. Yet, to keep the 10lbs you have to keep lifting. And why would you stop? You've had success...you're going to stop just because you've gone beyond the best body and strength you've ever had?

    Such a situation calls to mind the MTV special on steroids and the gay guy who did them. He only wanted bigger biceps, so he kept lifting those, and sure he toned up, but what happened was very minimal given the risk and cost. And finally when he quit the routine he was a slave to, he lost it, and the money he injected into himself and had to begin again. That's America right there. They don't realize they'd have to keep going because the reason they got involved WAS ACHIEVED, so they stop doing what made them good. The REASON, THE WHY, is out of whack. Sure, you get to a certain size, THEN stop, and then you go back to your bad habits, forever in some chain of events or a catch 22. Great! All the supplements GONE. When self improvement guru's right on finding your WHY, it's to KEEP you going when times get a little tough and you're wanting to retreat back to your HOMEOstatic AVERAGE, but should not!

    So focus on strength. Imagine getting stronger than you ever have been before, a level you can be truly proud of, and that will vault MORE success in other avenues of your life, and then couple THIS with the above mentioned information of using the primary drivers to increase growth and efficiency NOW.



    A-Unit
     
  2. CCKazi007

    CCKazi007 Banned

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    Very nice post I think there's a lot of good advice here. So do you think I should stay with 3 day routine doing DB Press, Deadlift and Squats on different days or drop DB Press and do Dead-lift and Squat twice a week on a 4 day split?
     
  3. Skilla_Staz

    Skilla_Staz Master Don Juan

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    Bench, Deadlift, Squats


    On my bench days I do regular bench, and then incline DB presses to get the best of both.

    I, personally, don't have the recovery, or the diet, to do heavy squats and deads twice a week. It's just not in me.


    Howver, this thread is much needed. Too many kids using machines and bicep curls. At my new school, I see kids walking in the weight room with jeans and a tee shirt, benching every day, then doing bicep curls and lat pull downs, then leaving. It's a shame. I'm trying to recruit a few of my friends to get into a three day split with me.


    Also, would a personal trainer who brings about results, be more successful than a fancy schmancy type trainer? I would think so, so why don't I see many trainers like that?
     
  4. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    Beautiful as always, A-Unit! I just hope people take the time to read what you say, every word you type is SPOT ON.

    Because a very small percentage of people actually want a 'successful' physique.. like to add 40-50lbs of muscle. People want to be 'fit' and 'toned' and don't want to do hard work.

    Plus deads, squats etc all are fairly dangerous. Gyms limit what their trainers advise to machine work and the 'safer' (read: non productive exercise) to cover their asses.

    And how many weekend warriors would want to do 20-rep squats week in, week out?

    It's all about money.. the true bodybuilders and powerlifters are a TINY market. So even if a trainer at a gym is very knowledgeabe about strength training, his hands will often be tied by the gym's policy.

    Online training is where it's at. You train people YOUR way, and you turn down people who aren't interested. But at a gym you'd get assigned a client and have to do what the client wants.. which is taking NO-Explode and doing 3x20 all-machine workouts because it looks and feels like it's working.. see?
     
  5. Skilla_Staz

    Skilla_Staz Master Don Juan

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    Ah, so starting your own "hole in the wall" gym and training folks wouldnt be such a bad idea eh?

    I've always wanted to do that. Chin up bars, power racks, platforms, dumbells, barbells..straight old school
     
  6. A-Unit

    A-Unit Master Don Juan

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    Re:

    Almost as a MUST I would immediately replace DB Press with DIPS.

    Here's a "thought" I want to convey...

    Let's say you have FINITE Intensity and Energy to make a new Personal Best Each and Every lifting week. And let's say your personal best on bench is 200lbs at a weight from the average male of 170lbs. And that you're doing it as 5x5's, or even 3x8, whatever you choose (I say 5x5 b/c they're a lifting technique of powerlifters). And let's say you could hit 200lbs on the bench, and perhaps increase 2.5lbs to 7.5lbs each week thereafter. Would you PREFER the added DB presses OR, the fact you're achieving ever growing strength gains in one difficult, and all encompassing lift?

    My opinion is people lace their routines with so much fluff and crap NOT BECAUSE they can do it, but because they don't exert much intensity during their workout in the stuff that MATTERS. If people are of the unified opinion that Bench, Deads, and Squats work best (provided you can safely and effectively do them), and you do them with tremendous gains, wouldn't you just DO what works? Why add more crap? Sure Dumbbells and machines are nice inventions that micmic, but don't replace, the more natural movements of the body, and if you're injured (though you shouldn't lift), or are getting started (though you should probably go right for the squat rack), they work fine. But strapping yourself in like a hamster does NOT exert much force on the body, and the isolation of specific joints and movements can do MORE harm than good.

    If you go FULL bore with Bench, after warmups, and do 3-5 sets of Dips, full out until you can't lift yourself on the Dip bar, what more will DB presses, or any auxiliary exercise do, that you haven't already done? The beauty in Compound movements is that you lift so much more weight, it hits so many more muscles, that you LEVERAGE time and INTENSITY. If you push yourself enough, you can get in areas that might be tough, AND, you can accomplish the movement of more weight.

    On DB Press, 70, 80, and 90 pounds is impressive for most. I don't think I ever see guys that high, because those that can go that high, opt for the bench, but occasionally there are some who throw in variety. And you should, for your own sake do as you like. But assuming you go in the gym with a FINITE amount of INTENSITY and ENERGY, and can opt for CONCENTRATING this energy on exercises that work efficiently, will cause the best growth fastest, why do most trainees spread it around on 3-5 exercises, when 2 really good ones can do the best, most complete job?

    Between DIPS and BENCH, you hit the major muscles of the upperbody, you exert a lot of force on the tris, lower pecs, shoulders, and ancilary parts like the traps, and the contraction on the abs. Not that you WANT To do this intentionaly, but it happens by the sheer fact you're lifting your own body vertically and extending your triceps.

    Would I drop them? yes, to fit in dips for 3-5 sets, depending on how many you can do per set. Absolutely. The goal here is STRENGTH, and while DBS do something, they can't do what bench does. Even if you examine the Bench, most "weaker" guys can do 115, 135, maybe 150. But can the same guy do 75lb dumbbells? No. The strength isn't transferable by weight. Sure, we can refer to stabilizer and front deltoids, but from the point of "FEEL", the chest working as a unit, does more work, better, and more completely on the BENCH, than it does with DB presses. And the same goes for DIPS. And when you do them, you know what I'm talking about.

    For me, from what I've learned from IA and DC, and put into practice, it isn't about saying I go 3-4 days a week. It's more about going when I recover, and being active in between the gym days. If I'm personally supersore from Bench, and My Triceps are Still blasted, and SHoulders, too, then I don't go and do squats. Perhaps that's heresy, but I've had success. When i'm sore like that, I can't do deads or pullups to my fullest, so what's the point? Normally I lift Mondays and Fridays, or Tuesdays and Fridays. If and when I recover faster, I'll go more. I was doing a DC routine, doing about 3 workouts per 9 nine days, but I found myself in pain, and the most important thing is improvement. maybe it's 1 rep more, or 5lbs more, or even that half rep more on the Pullup, til you get to a New Fullrep. Whatever it is, the point is to improve week to week in some material way. If I'm going, and I have no energy to do what I did LAST WEEK, then something is wrong. My diet is off. I'm back too soon. Whatever. But I measure from strength backward, not what the scale or mirror says. And so long as I know I get 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight in protein, I'm confident I'm recovering and growing.


    My preference in doing my own lifting is the following:

    Workout 1:

    Deadlifts
    Squats
    Pullups/Chinups To Failure
    Calf Raises
    and the Occasional Heavy Pull Down or Row if I can't pull off a PullUP Chinup as I want to.

    Workout 2:
    Bench
    Dips
    Shoulder-Military press
    Maybe a tricep Overhead Extension with the Machine Rope or the Reverse Close Grip Bench advocated by IA, or other similar heavy Tricep work.

    My program varies from DC, because I did a basic DC before, and I prefer workouts similar to Powerlifting programs. For now, that's what I do, and what works. Everyone should do what works built around the basic compound lifts and strength training and supplement other auxiliary work as needed.



    A_Unit
     
  7. donjuanjovi

    donjuanjovi Senior Don Juan

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    Great post, I enjoyed reading it.
     
  8. spesmilitis

    spesmilitis Master Don Juan

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    I've gotten so much stronger after I revolved my workouts around personal bests of my major workouts instead of soreness. To do this with my limited energy and intensity, I had to cut down my sets from 4 to 3 or maybe even 2 (except for deadlifts and squats cuz they're the most important). That way, I would still have energy to get a personal best in my next exercise. Look at my workout journal for my results.

    If I wanted my legs to be sore, all I had to do is leg curls untill I could bairly do leg curls with the pin at the 15 lbs weight. My legs would get mad sore, but improvement in leg curls was very slow. Ever since I added squats and stiff-legged deadlifts or hipextensions, I'm not as sore the next day, but every time I do these exersices I can pile on 5 more lbs or 1-2 reps.
     
  9. A-Unit

    A-Unit Master Don Juan

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    Re:

    Regarding trainers...those found in gyms can only work with the machines before them, and generally speaking, fitness gyms aren't equiped for guys who want true size. Sure now, some of us can lift at fitness gyms. But when your deads and squats begin hitting 400 and 350+, you might want to switch to a powerlifting gym because they'll be used to guys lifting at those weights, can spot effectively, and will help push you threw any barriers. I've seen a few massive mountains in my fitness gym, and they move some iron, however, they either squat, dead lift on different days, OR, they have such great genetics they grow from Hammer Strength Machines. Sure they lift heavy weight ON the machine, but most guys stack tons of plates onto Leg Press Machines RATHER than powerlifting machines. Personally, if you've never been at a powerlifting gym, at least once, you're missing out. The equipment is more fun AND functional. Reverse Hyper Extension. Standing Leg Pullups. Squat Safety Bars. Blocks. Bands. And generally, the less well known ones are more dumpier, only focused on the equipment and not the decor.

    Yeah, the trainers in gyms are fit relative to the masses, but within the Fitness Spectrum, they're generally at the low-end of the In Shape Spectrum, may or may not have a degree, generally gives you a cookie cutter program, and has the body they have because of years of improper lifting. I do see 1 or 2 trainers and women trainers with body's of note, yet the others are just slightly bigger than the average guy and definately don't portray a person who could teach other's how to do it easily, or at least simply on a possible path.

    I agree, I'd rather the advice from IA or DC, or similar trainers, than the other stuff. The only thing you miss there is spotting and making sure you do the exercise correctly. That aside, it's ok to train alone, because to tie your success or failure on a gym partner is quite limiting, unless this is your professional career or you're an athlete.

    Gyms COULD do a better job with the equipment they have IF they knew what they were doing OR could cared about what they ARE doing. Rather, they have incentive to place the newest equipment, because that's what is perceived to be best for drawing new members and keeping the dads and moms happy, more than the results they achieve. Moreover, the larger the gym, the bigger the volume, the better the potential discount. Large chain gyms can buy in some bulk for expensive equipment, so they achieve economies of scale. IF they only bought 1 squat rack and a few squat safety bars with mats and milk crates, although that would be awesome, they'd never have to upgrade, people would be afraid because of the perceived difficulty, and they'd pay more, or at least not get a discount because they wouldn't have to constantly replace equipment due to wear and tear on the pulleys and bands found in common machines.

    Truly a gym should be built from the health perspective UP. IMO, it should have tons of squats racks, it should allow for the dropping of weights, it should allow for dead lifts, and safe bench presses. Allow for machines, if the use of them can aid in other areas of one's development. And then market the heck out of the place for strength coaches, colleges, high schools, competitors. Put in place noncaptive healthstores, and perhaps yoga studios for the recovery from intense workouts. All of it sounds nice, but achieving profitability while providing quality service is the dificulty.



    A-Unit
     
  10. Acemaster2006

    Acemaster2006 New Member

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    Props...

    Usually I can never be bothered to post, but I had to say that this article is really good and I just wished I had read this a few years ago would have saved me a lot of time!!
     
  11. MindOverMatter

    MindOverMatter Master Don Juan

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    i'm curious to see how my pal WA sees this, but for me, putting deadlifts and squats on the same day, let alone the exact same workout session equals to workout suicide. if you are high up in your plates on those exercises, your body wont be able to handle that kind of load in one session. you are better giving the legs their own day imho.

    peace out guys, good to see some of you still around.
     
  12. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    Hey bro! Where ya been? I thought you'd left us! Still DCing it?

    As for squats and deads in the same workout, depends on the volume involved. Working up to a single or a triple is feasible, but doing 2 x 5 then a 20 repper for squats and then 2 x 5 deads or whatever.. that'd bite. lol.

    Stick around bro!

    Alex
     
  13. MindOverMatter

    MindOverMatter Master Don Juan

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    hey bro,

    i dc'ed by the book for a long period of time before having to stop due to random work hours interfearing with dante's split.

    plus, it got to the point where i was no longer able to fit into a suit properly (and this became a hassle as i wear suits for work and i could no longer wear half of my closet), so it was time to get off the protein wagon. im back on a basic 3 day split now, mostly for maintenance, don't really care about getting big anymore, i'm 100% content with where i'm at. that aside, i still like to use a lot of the DC principles (the stretching, his lat workouts, etc)
     
  14. Skilla_Staz

    Skilla_Staz Master Don Juan

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    If I had the money, and the knowledge, I'd start myself a hardcore gym.
     
  15. Hockey Playa

    Hockey Playa Master Don Juan

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    Dips as in the one where ur hanging? or Dips between 2 flat benches?
     
  16. Hockey Playa

    Hockey Playa Master Don Juan

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  17. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    either work although the free bar version (hanging) is better.
     
  18. mrRuckus

    mrRuckus Master Don Juan

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    You mentioned DC. DC recommends not doing flat bench because it's dangerous. It has a high incidence of pec tears at low reps and Dante says the risk isn't worth the benefits. He says to do it in the 20-30 RP range if you just haaave to do it. I'm not sure how much this applies to someone barely doing ~200 lbs and below.

    I personally am going to stop doing it. I'd RATHER do db press. But i'm not going to do that either. Soon I'm going to be doing mostly dips for chest. I'm glad to see you promoting that. Bench just seems kind of pointless to me. It hurts my wrists and it's a pain to get a spotter. I kind of like decline bench though.

    Btw i was doing 75 lb DBs while only having like a 175 lb bench press. DBs seem more natural to be pushing them up to me. I don't think the 2 exercises have much bearing on each other. If i remember right i read a while ago that dips don't carryover much to flat bench either. I'm not sure if i remember that right though.
     
  19. Warboss Alex

    Warboss Alex Master Don Juan

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    ;) :)
     
  20. A-Unit

    A-Unit Master Don Juan

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    Re:

    Nice clarification, WBA.

    I've done DB presses before, and I'm benching now. DB presses are nice, but I don't get the feeling of "compound movement." Surprisingly, the guys who hurt themselves quite handily (in my experience) are more like regular gym guys who might bench above the norm, but with improper form. Powerlifters do extraordinary weight, with and without a shirt. I realize DC knows more than I ever will, but I am citing from experience what I see and know, and what happens. I'm sure he's accounted for this, and suggests other exercises, and perhaps decline or incline is the solution. If you like DB's do them. It's not my body, and certainly they are safer than a Barbell, esp if you lift alone.

    I would ALWAYS incorporate Dips. I can't fathom a more difficult, strength inducing exercise. Anytime you can lift your body through space, you're gaining the largest benefit of mass and strength possible, not to mention functionality. The strength imbued in the triceps through Dips will be MUCH larger than that gained by overhead presses, or other similar tricep exercises.

    Just my 2 cents.



    A-Unit
     

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