This is an actual gauntlet, in case you were wondering. I don’t know about you but I said that phrase (“Throw down the gauntlet”) for years without knowing what an actual gauntlet was. So this is to spare any of you readers a similar embarrassing fate. Although, now that I look at it more it seems rather heavy and, well, breakable. I don’t know if throwing that is a good idea; someone could get hurt.
Wow, it’s official. I’m my mother.
ANYHOW. Andrew and I have been having a lively e-mail discussion about whether or not the Monkey Bar Gym workout (hereafter referred to as MBG or simply “fun”) constitutes strength training. I call it weights, he calls in conditioning. Tomayto, tomahto.
He says, “i’m not arguing you’re losing muscle mass by doing only conditioning. you’re probably keeping it quite well and no doubt you’ll get stronger. you are at a stage (novice)where pretty much any stimulus, no matter how moderate ( i.e. yoga, pilates). what I’m saying is that you shouldn’t do conditioning such that you’re neglecting strength work. this is like fitness 101 – you have to lift for strength if you want to improve as an athlete. there’s no way that I know of to reach your genetic fitness potential without damn heavy weights.”
I Resemble That Statement
Andrew, per usual, is right on most counts (especially when he said that soreness is not the best indicator of a good strength program – I believe him there – and I love that he advocates “damn heavy weights”) except I feel inclined to disagree with him on two points:
1. “You have to lift for strength” – I subscribe more to the philosophy that I want my muscles to be functional, rather than just look good. I don’t necessarily care if I get a “nice cut” or even if I can max out on one particular exercise. I care if I can lift my kids without throwing my back out. I care if I can truck the entire car-load of groceries into the house (including milk!) in one trip because it is negative-freaking-10 here. And I don’t necessarily think those goals are accomplished by being able to clean and press 200 lbs.
Note: Apparently I misinterpreted what Andrew meant. He has clarified his statement in the comments. I’m used to big muscle-y dudes telling me I’m weak or lifting wrong or whatever because my focus is not on becoming a bodybuilder or fitness competitor and I unfairly grouped him with that crowd. Sorry Andrew! I still disagree however that my performance on a one-rep max is the best indicator of my overall strength.
2. “You are at a stage (novice) where pretty much any stimulus, no matter how moderate [will provoke a response]” See, now it’s getting personal. I was a competitive gymnast and dancer. I’ve been lifting – and lifting heavy – for YEARS. I have done Body For Life & Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle & Cory Everson’s program. I’ve read (and practiced) Iron Dolls & Bill Pearl’s Weight Training for Men & Women. I’ve even read AH-nold’s monstrosity, the holy grail of weight lifting. I’ll be the first to admit that a lot of book learning doesn’t necessarily make me a good weight lifter – I have a lot of room for improvement – but. I. am. not. a. novice. Thank you. Rant over. PS> Do NOT dis yoga.
Note: Andrew apparently meant that I am a novice according to Rippetoe. Which, actually, I’m not. (Well, okay I was a “novice” on one of the five. But the other four… :))
An Offer I Can’t Refuse
Then Andrew goes on to make me an interesting offer: “listen, there’s a real easy way to tell how strong or weak you are. go google search “rippetoe strength standards” and look in the untrained category under your weight. if your lifts are not up to par or if you don’t know how to do them, 100 to 1 odds that you are weak for your weight and height. you can do all the monkey workouts in the world, but they will not make you strong in the way that deadlifts, squats, and presses will make you strong. “
I can’t refuse a good challenge. In fact, just the thought makes me giddy with excitement. You are so on, pal:)
So here’s how it goes
Rippetoe has a nice little set of tables broken down by weight and gender for a specific set of exercises: Press (military press), Bench Press, Squat, Deadlift, & Clean. The idea is to do a one-rep max – an all out effort for one rep, the most weight you can handle without losing your form. Then you find where you fit in the chart and it tells you your status, ranging from untrained up to elite. A “novice” is someone who has trained regularly for 3-9 months. AHEM. “Intermediate” is someone who has trained for 2 years and has a high level of performance at the recreational level. Based on the description alone, this is how I would describe myself. “Advanced” entails multi-year training and high-level competitive athletics.
Gym Buddy Allison and I did this at the gym. Want to see how we fared?? Tune in tomorrow;)
Are any of you interested in seeing how strong you are, according to Rippetoe? It’s kind of a fun little test! If you try it, let me know how you did!!
PS> Andrew, you know I think you’re a rockstar!