Last November I started my quest To Be Decent. The Quest is based off the article Are You Strong? by Tim Henriques. Using the metrics of the article, I nailed 7/12 Decent and 1/12 Good. When you start throwing heavy weight around, you need to balance risk versus reward. The primary goal is to not get injured. Judging by the exercises I had left to tackle, I have decided the risk of injury now exceeds the reward.
I probably should have given this more consideration in November, but I’ve got problems with some of the exercises selected.
- Squat – Yes, I have issues with the Squat. The traditional back squat is murder on your spine. In investing there is the concept of survivorship bias. We model after companies and investors that are still around. Those that get wiped out are removed from the data sample. For the squat, the same thing is going on. You see lots of guys squatting in their 20s, fewer in their 30s and so on. Then you see those few guys in their 50s that are squatting ridiculous amounts of weight. We don’t see the numerous guys who tore up their back. They aren’t coming to the gym anymore. Many strength coaches now favor the front squat, which is much safer on the back. It is harder to do and the lifter must greatly reduce the weight, which can be a blow to ones ego.
- Bench Press – I love doing the bench press, but in order to get that “V” look, one should focus on working the upper pectoral muscles, not the lower. You do that with incline bench presses. Guys who I’ve seen in the gym that lift A LOT of weight on the flat bench press develop so much lower pectoral muscle, that unless they have single digit body fat, look like they are developing breasts.
- Leg Press – Pure non-functional leveraged nonsense. However, I recently learned of a good use for the leg press (besides a coat rack). Single leg. Put on a low amount of weight and use a single leg. This takes all the leverage out and will allow one to gradually build up their weaker leg. Safety first. You will be humbled on how little weight you can do compared to the traditional leg press.
- Pull-Ups, Dips, Push-Ups – I love these exercises. However, in the article the test is how many reps you can get. A better test of strength is weighted pull-ups and weighted dips. Which is more impressive, my 20 body weight pull-ups or my 3 reps with 70 pounds of plates? The 20 reps left me sore for days. The weighted pull-ups left me refreshed enough to return to the gym the next day.
What I need is a new quest. The exercises need to follow my principles.
- Strength (IOW – no high-rep nonsense)
I will be looking for a new plan. Perhaps I’ll reach out to some strength coaches to design a spine-friendly Quest. And failing that, I can try and design one myself.