2

votes

Why do I even bother with dead lifts, squats, or bench press?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 19, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Nothing feels as good as a big deadlift. Then it's over, and you have to wait until next session to feel that again. In the meantime, every other sport I do including simply climbing subway stairs gets slower!

My body simply never has responded to hypertrophy training. I get stronger, but never grow. Getting stronger at deads makes me better at deads and lose speed, flexibility, and explosive power, let alone strength-endurance, that I need for my sport of rock climbing.

You know, if I believed for a second that deadlifts and squats in a bulk cycle would give me five or ten pounds of new muscle over a few months, id do it. I used to believe it could, so i did numerous cycles, but do not anymore because it never has. It's one thing to give up performance in every other pursuit other than deadlifts (which is what happens), when lots of muscle is gained, but it's another thing entirely when a body (mine) simply does NOT respond to hyoertrophy!

However, kettlebell swings and snatches make my explosion power increase, and tie my hands and feet thru my lower back; significant kinetic chain functional strength increases. Pull-ups, rows, dips, and kettlebell military presses ( with heavy weights) make my climbing stronger. I keep improving in climbing. I never improve much strength or at all hypertrophy wise with deads, squats, or benches. Why do I even bother thinking of them?

Proper swings....power, connection, strength-endurance, and explosion increases are phenomenal! Talk about real world sports applications!

Anyone else feel this way?

E6c14efded576a0bea38a2fe2beced6a

(689)

on December 20, 2012
at 01:52 PM

One more thing I would add is that if you are looking for ways to improve your climbing you should think more like an athlete, and not just a lifter. I work a lot with softball players and while strength is important, I see much better on field improvements by focusing on body weight explosive movements like box jumps and different plyometrics. Just something to think about.

E6c14efded576a0bea38a2fe2beced6a

(689)

on December 20, 2012
at 01:47 PM

The conjugate system you describe sounds about right but I just don't superset. I use a heavily modified Westside routine where my dynamic/explosive work is done as single exercise doing sets of 2 or 3. For powerlifting dynamic work is also a time to work on technique so supersetting, or doing longer sets, is not something I have ever done. But if it's working, and your goal is athletic performance more than just lifting performance than it looks good.

E6c14efded576a0bea38a2fe2beced6a

(689)

on December 20, 2012
at 01:43 PM

Sounds like you need some soul searching more than a program right now. The internal battle we all fight, at some time, between what we want and what we actually need can set us all back. Focus on your goal, aesthetic/climbing performance/lift performance, and let that be your guide.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on December 20, 2012
at 01:16 AM

Me and you both brotha.

2e1591c76896828077b930de5107f1af

on December 20, 2012
at 12:04 AM

you will be able to bust the plateau!

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:31 PM

With that said, you can really get fat off EASILY and without muscle loss with proper diet, adding in some cardio, bodyweight movements and supplementation. Fat can literally melt off. It doesn't take that long either, much quicker than it takes to build that baseline of muscle and strength. The key is to really focus in on the fat loss part and do it smartly. I've had times where I'm in a rush to get it off and end up losing strength AND muscle. A month later I'm back to my starting weight and only maintained about 25% of the strength. Seems like a lot of work for a small net gain.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:29 PM

I know what you mean. I love powerlifting programming. I've done numerous cycles similar to what we're discussing and have had the same problem. With that said, my response to your original question was basically what you just reiterated. Powerlifting movements can get someone crazy strong everywhere. It can be enhanced by simply consuming a TON of food. Look at the elite level strongmen or powerlifters, this is how they get crazy strong. With that said, they aren't at all concerned with fat gain, which is where those of us who care about body comp AND love powerlifting have issues.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:28 PM

I know what you mean. I love powerlifting programming. I've done numerous cycles similar to what we're discussing and have had the same problem. With that said, my response to your original question was basically what you just reiterated. Powerlifting movements only can get someone crazy strong everywhere. It can be enhanced by simply consuming a TON of food. Look at the elite level strongmen or powerlifters, this is how they get crazy strong. With that said, they aren't at all concerned with fat gain, which is where those of us who care about body comp AND love powerlifting have issues

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:55 PM

I get stuck wanting dead lifts because that's what everyone says is required for real mass and strength gains. And I'm frustrated I've NEVER been able to achieve a 2X body weight dead no matter the focus, diet, or training approach. pavel got me the best results. Thanks for busting the myth and being supportive. Appreciate it. My climbing is better for my present system. Any comments or suggestions? As for pure climbing, y'all are correct, I need not gain an ounce.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:51 PM

Regarding a conjugate system to increase raw strength and explosive power simultaneously, that's my aim with doing heavy, low rep sets of weighted pull-ups, dips, and KB military presses, and then super setting with heavy, explosive KB snatches and swings. Seems to be working as I'm getting stronger and more powerful simultaneously for now. Is this what you had in mind James? KB swings w the 25k bell (at 62k body weight) connects my hands and feet and rehabs and strengthens my lower back. I REALLY feel increases in sport climbing explosion with KB swings.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:43 PM

Yeah, it is a good thing for a climber. I just get frustrated that I could use about 5-10lbs more muscle on my frame, for strength, fat burning capacity, and i admit, aesthetics. I'm 6'2" and 140-150lbs depending on the diet and training, never more never less. I also seem to plateau at @160% body weight on deads every time. Yet I can knock out 150 pull-ups in an hour workout and climb all day. I'm just thinking I should stick to what my body is good at.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:39 PM

So I've decided to accept my slow twitch muscle composition, my endurance capacity, my skill at climbing, my wiry build, and my good strength to weight ratio. Deads do make me stronger at deads, but I plateau at @160% body weight, and I get slower at every thing else I do.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:35 PM

Kilo of steak, cup of tallow, sack of sweet potatoes do it? Tried it. Got fat, a tad of muscle, a good deal of strength, and thats it. My body fluctuates between 62-69kilos, never higher or lower no matter what I eat or do.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:33 PM

I do get stronger, to a point. But then I feel I simply just am a bit short on muscle mass. I don't care to be big, I'd could just use about 5-10lbs of extra raw muscle. I'm a bit too light for my height. I've tried the eat absurd amounts and dead-squat-bench using the Tsatsouline modified DeLorme method a few cycles. Gained 2lbs of fat for every 1/2lb of muscle, and after about 10lbs gained, I plateaued every time. Body seems to have a set point.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 12:12 PM

Yup, me too. Added back KB swings and snatches and I feel MUCH better!

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:37 AM

And you're right, low volume gets me nowhere, but high volume I respond to. I like Pavel's ladder approach: get a pump with a heavy weight. It's a high volume workout, 1hr or less duration. And your last comment is spot on.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:34 AM

Firstly, good observation. As fat as my sports performance would suggest, I'm unusually high in slow twitch fibers. It takes half a workout, climb, mountain climb, bike ride, lifting session, etc, for me to even warm up; during that time I wonder if I've ever even trained! Then after an hour or three, I'm raring to go and powerful, when everyone else is ready to quit! I'm strongest near the end usually! That said, when lifting heavy (vs climbing, hiking, or biking), I keep workouts to 45-60min 3x week. Still, my first set is the weakest, and the middle/end sets are the strongest.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:33 AM

Firstly, good observation. As fat as my sports performance would suggest, I'm unusually high in slow twitch fibers. It takes half a workout, climb, mountain climb, bike ride, lifting session, etc, for me to even warm up; during that time I wonder if I've ever even trained! Then after an hour or three, I'm raring to go and powerful, when everyone else is ready to quit! I'm strongest near the end usually! That said, when lifting heavy (vs climbing, hiking, or biking), I keep workouts to 45-60min 3x week. Still, my first set is the weakest, and the middle/end sets are the strongest.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:28 AM

Never the less, I appreciate the recommendation of a book I haven't read.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:17 AM

I never mentioned my workout frequency or duration, so how would you begin to know of I overtrain or undertrain? As for mixing it up, when I do deadlifts, I cycle pull-ups and dips and pull-ups, those three only, usually in a program-routine by Pavel Tsatsouline, dedicating myself ONLY to strength. Other cycles, ill do the same with a hyoertrophy focus only. When I'm doing kettlebells, I'm also in the rock gym, and doing gym-ring rows and kettlebell clean and presses, and pull-ups, all of which train rock climbing movements. I understand specificity of training.

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6 Answers

4
9e3bf43de29f66e5bb7be9c7d176b5e1

on December 19, 2012
at 08:22 AM

You really should consider educating yourself on Doug McGuff and Body by Science. First of all, you're conflating skill training and strength and conditioning training. Second of all, you're probably compromising athletic performance because you're not allowing your body enough recovery time and your body is effectively spending too much time below baseline levels due to lack of recovery between training sessions and athletic events.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:17 AM

I never mentioned my workout frequency or duration, so how would you begin to know of I overtrain or undertrain? As for mixing it up, when I do deadlifts, I cycle pull-ups and dips and pull-ups, those three only, usually in a program-routine by Pavel Tsatsouline, dedicating myself ONLY to strength. Other cycles, ill do the same with a hyoertrophy focus only. When I'm doing kettlebells, I'm also in the rock gym, and doing gym-ring rows and kettlebell clean and presses, and pull-ups, all of which train rock climbing movements. I understand specificity of training.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:28 AM

Never the less, I appreciate the recommendation of a book I haven't read.

2
68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on December 19, 2012
at 01:17 PM

Lets also be honest too. If you have a good baseline level of muscle and good body composition, it's going to be very difficult for someone to notice major changes or "growth" by simply doing powerlifting programming. Like you said, strength should increase providing you're eating enough and recovering, but I can see where someone might be frustrated because there is very little margin of progress you can see with the naked eye.

One alternative though is if someone is bulking, you can definitely do this by just sticking to powerlifting, eating lots of food and maintaining gains. Do this for long enough, ignoring some addition of body fat, someone can "get huge" in almost all areas and then focus on cutting the fat and maintaining that strength and muscle.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:31 PM

With that said, you can really get fat off EASILY and without muscle loss with proper diet, adding in some cardio, bodyweight movements and supplementation. Fat can literally melt off. It doesn't take that long either, much quicker than it takes to build that baseline of muscle and strength. The key is to really focus in on the fat loss part and do it smartly. I've had times where I'm in a rush to get it off and end up losing strength AND muscle. A month later I'm back to my starting weight and only maintained about 25% of the strength. Seems like a lot of work for a small net gain.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:29 PM

I know what you mean. I love powerlifting programming. I've done numerous cycles similar to what we're discussing and have had the same problem. With that said, my response to your original question was basically what you just reiterated. Powerlifting movements can get someone crazy strong everywhere. It can be enhanced by simply consuming a TON of food. Look at the elite level strongmen or powerlifters, this is how they get crazy strong. With that said, they aren't at all concerned with fat gain, which is where those of us who care about body comp AND love powerlifting have issues.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:33 PM

I do get stronger, to a point. But then I feel I simply just am a bit short on muscle mass. I don't care to be big, I'd could just use about 5-10lbs of extra raw muscle. I'm a bit too light for my height. I've tried the eat absurd amounts and dead-squat-bench using the Tsatsouline modified DeLorme method a few cycles. Gained 2lbs of fat for every 1/2lb of muscle, and after about 10lbs gained, I plateaued every time. Body seems to have a set point.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:28 PM

I know what you mean. I love powerlifting programming. I've done numerous cycles similar to what we're discussing and have had the same problem. With that said, my response to your original question was basically what you just reiterated. Powerlifting movements only can get someone crazy strong everywhere. It can be enhanced by simply consuming a TON of food. Look at the elite level strongmen or powerlifters, this is how they get crazy strong. With that said, they aren't at all concerned with fat gain, which is where those of us who care about body comp AND love powerlifting have issues

2
Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on December 19, 2012
at 06:59 AM

I remember Robb and Greg saying different muscle fiber types respond with hypertrophy to different volumes. E.g., if you're mostly fast twitch, low volume might be more likely to induce hypertrophy, but if you're mostly slow twitch, high volume may work better for growth. Maybe one of those applies to you? Of course if you have the muscle fibers of a world class marathoner for example, hypertrophy may be very difficult at any training volume.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:37 AM

And you're right, low volume gets me nowhere, but high volume I respond to. I like Pavel's ladder approach: get a pump with a heavy weight. It's a high volume workout, 1hr or less duration. And your last comment is spot on.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:33 AM

Firstly, good observation. As fat as my sports performance would suggest, I'm unusually high in slow twitch fibers. It takes half a workout, climb, mountain climb, bike ride, lifting session, etc, for me to even warm up; during that time I wonder if I've ever even trained! Then after an hour or three, I'm raring to go and powerful, when everyone else is ready to quit! I'm strongest near the end usually! That said, when lifting heavy (vs climbing, hiking, or biking), I keep workouts to 45-60min 3x week. Still, my first set is the weakest, and the middle/end sets are the strongest.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 11:34 AM

Firstly, good observation. As fat as my sports performance would suggest, I'm unusually high in slow twitch fibers. It takes half a workout, climb, mountain climb, bike ride, lifting session, etc, for me to even warm up; during that time I wonder if I've ever even trained! Then after an hour or three, I'm raring to go and powerful, when everyone else is ready to quit! I'm strongest near the end usually! That said, when lifting heavy (vs climbing, hiking, or biking), I keep workouts to 45-60min 3x week. Still, my first set is the weakest, and the middle/end sets are the strongest.

1
2e1591c76896828077b930de5107f1af

on December 19, 2012
at 12:20 PM

maybe the reason why you're not growing is because your not eating enough total calories, eat good carbs, fats and protein.

last year, i trained for hypotrophy doing basic heavy compound movements and i did no grew very much for the reason that i wasn't eating enough total calories and probably not enough of carbs and fats but i got stronger and ripped as fuck lol.

ive been bulking for about 4-5 months now, and ive seen great results!

this is just a thought

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:35 PM

Kilo of steak, cup of tallow, sack of sweet potatoes do it? Tried it. Got fat, a tad of muscle, a good deal of strength, and thats it. My body fluctuates between 62-69kilos, never higher or lower no matter what I eat or do.

2e1591c76896828077b930de5107f1af

on December 20, 2012
at 12:04 AM

you will be able to bust the plateau!

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:39 PM

So I've decided to accept my slow twitch muscle composition, my endurance capacity, my skill at climbing, my wiry build, and my good strength to weight ratio. Deads do make me stronger at deads, but I plateau at @160% body weight, and I get slower at every thing else I do.

1
1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on December 19, 2012
at 12:06 PM

I felt a little worse as well when I only did strength training. When I added back in Olympic lifting and sprints I feel great all the time. Maybe you were just missin the power and a little conditioning.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 12:12 PM

Yup, me too. Added back KB swings and snatches and I feel MUCH better!

0
E6c14efded576a0bea38a2fe2beced6a

on December 19, 2012
at 02:33 PM

"My body simply never has responded to hypertrophy training. I get stronger, but never grow."

Maybe I'm missing something, but if you can get stronger without getting heavier that would seem a good thing for a climber.

As with most athletes you would greatly benefit from a well programed conjugate system that allows you to hit a few goals at once. Focusing on top end strength won't increase your explosive strength, and focusing on explosive strength won't help your top end. You need to combine them without trying to cycle each.

As for your exercise selection what difference does it make if you never squat or deadlift again? As a pure strength athlete I only use a swing as a recovery exercise. I have to use so much weight to even feel it in my pulling muscles that it's just not practical. I get a much better effect and carry over from doing speed pulls against band. This works for me but might not work for someone else who has a different body type and goals.

Decide what your goals are and THEN pick the program and exercise that get you there. You may never bench/dead/squat again, but if you are making progress to your goals that's all that matters.

The idea that everyone has to bench/dead/squat to make any progress is more BRO science than actual. The sooner this myth dies the better everyone will be.

E6c14efded576a0bea38a2fe2beced6a

(689)

on December 20, 2012
at 01:43 PM

Sounds like you need some soul searching more than a program right now. The internal battle we all fight, at some time, between what we want and what we actually need can set us all back. Focus on your goal, aesthetic/climbing performance/lift performance, and let that be your guide.

E6c14efded576a0bea38a2fe2beced6a

(689)

on December 20, 2012
at 01:52 PM

One more thing I would add is that if you are looking for ways to improve your climbing you should think more like an athlete, and not just a lifter. I work a lot with softball players and while strength is important, I see much better on field improvements by focusing on body weight explosive movements like box jumps and different plyometrics. Just something to think about.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:43 PM

Yeah, it is a good thing for a climber. I just get frustrated that I could use about 5-10lbs more muscle on my frame, for strength, fat burning capacity, and i admit, aesthetics. I'm 6'2" and 140-150lbs depending on the diet and training, never more never less. I also seem to plateau at @160% body weight on deads every time. Yet I can knock out 150 pull-ups in an hour workout and climb all day. I'm just thinking I should stick to what my body is good at.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:51 PM

Regarding a conjugate system to increase raw strength and explosive power simultaneously, that's my aim with doing heavy, low rep sets of weighted pull-ups, dips, and KB military presses, and then super setting with heavy, explosive KB snatches and swings. Seems to be working as I'm getting stronger and more powerful simultaneously for now. Is this what you had in mind James? KB swings w the 25k bell (at 62k body weight) connects my hands and feet and rehabs and strengthens my lower back. I REALLY feel increases in sport climbing explosion with KB swings.

Medium avatar

(2417)

on December 19, 2012
at 10:55 PM

I get stuck wanting dead lifts because that's what everyone says is required for real mass and strength gains. And I'm frustrated I've NEVER been able to achieve a 2X body weight dead no matter the focus, diet, or training approach. pavel got me the best results. Thanks for busting the myth and being supportive. Appreciate it. My climbing is better for my present system. Any comments or suggestions? As for pure climbing, y'all are correct, I need not gain an ounce.

E6c14efded576a0bea38a2fe2beced6a

(689)

on December 20, 2012
at 01:47 PM

The conjugate system you describe sounds about right but I just don't superset. I use a heavily modified Westside routine where my dynamic/explosive work is done as single exercise doing sets of 2 or 3. For powerlifting dynamic work is also a time to work on technique so supersetting, or doing longer sets, is not something I have ever done. But if it's working, and your goal is athletic performance more than just lifting performance than it looks good.

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