Straight to the Bar

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HELPING YOU GET STRONGER SINCE 2004

Lift Weights? So What!
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So you can lift weights? Big deal. So can my grandma. What can you really do?
So you can lift heavy weights? I’m impressed, but your average person doesn’t know the difference between 225 and 800 lbs on the squat. They’re both beyond his ability and heavy.
I don’t want to knock weightlifting, though it may sound like I am. I lift weights and think everyone should too. The benefits are numerous.
But I want to encourage you to do something more. To add in some more skill into the mix. To do things that may inspire the average person to want to do it too.
I’m talking about things like feats of strength, kettlebell juggling, crazy bodyweight feats, hand balancing and acrobatics. Things which I enjoy doing.
Don’t think that these are just party tricks either. Although skill may be involved (skill is involved even in basic weightlifting exercises in case you didn’t know), they require strength and more. The benefits of many of these skills extend to endurance, coordination, balance, mobility and more. Things that many weightlifters may be lacking.
Don’t take my word for it. Legendary Strongman George Jowett wrote back in 1930 on the subject of hand balancing:

No doubt you will have noticed that invariably all hand balancers have splendidly formed arms and each has a firm powerful hand clasp.
I have found that hand balancers on the whole have a more perfectly formed arm – particularly the forearms and wrist- than the weight lifter.
The hand balancer employs the hand and wrist much more than does the lifter of weights and what is more interesting, he employs the arm muscles as well as the grip in many unusual ways- ways not possible to the exercise fans who handle weights only.
No doubt knowledge of this diversified method of development is what makes the mass of European strength athletes so partial to the practice of hand balancing.
The average American strength athlete could practice this valuable pastime of hand balancing more consistently than he does.

True back then and even more so today.


Hand balancing and other physical skills I mentioned earlier will give you many benefits. They can even help you win a bodybuilding contest as Reg Park relates here:

John Grimek won the 1948 Mr. Universe, but in my book, Steve Reeves should have beaten him. When it came down to sheer physical beauty – which was what I thought the Mr. Universe contest was about – Reeves was way ahead of Grimek.
Grimek’s posing routine won it for him. John started off with acrobatics and presses from the floor into handstands, that and his muscle control, well, the roof almost caved in from applause he received. But there you are, that is what mass hysteria can do at a muscle contest. Of course, I thought I was the better man in 1950, when Reeves beat me at the 1950 Mr. Universe in London, but that is another story…

I’d like to see any bodybuilder these days come close to what Grimek could do. Those over bloated muscles don’t impress me. What you can do with the muscle you have does.
Hopefully by this time you’re inspired to work on some new abilities. How do you get started? That’s a big topic and it depends on what you want go after. My advice would be to pick one thing and learn how to do it. Then go after it.
There are many resources here on Straight to the Bar that can help you get that first foot in the right direction. Of course, I also advise you to check out my sites below for more information.

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Straight to the Bar is the online home of fitness enthusiast Scott Bird, and looks at the many training approaches, essential techniques, uncommon exercises and superb equipment to help you become as strong as humanly possible. In short, this site is the home of all things strength.

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