As my time in the world of coaching, strength and conditioning, fitness, personal training, etc. goes on, I find that more often than not the answer to any related question is, “It Depends”. Often times it is specifically related to a certain goal, but as a coach of movement, strength and education it is also our job to make some decisions of what’s best for the trainee. Consider some of these (below) questions and answers, or at least points of view. Some may be common, some maybe not so common. Back in September I wrote a related post. Consider this, It Depends Part 2.
What’s best to train with, kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells? Bodyweight training seems to be the hip new thing. The answer is, it depends. No tools are standalone better than another. Each has pros and cons. Consider what you personally have access to from both an equipment and coaching perspective. Some of all is likely best depending on your goals.
How many days a week should I train? Well, more than one is ideal for sure but it depends. How much time do you have per day/week? Do you work 12 hr days? Do you have a spouse and 4 kids or are you a single male at the age of 20 with few other responsibilities?
Most agree that deadlifts are awesome. What’s the best way? Conventional, sumo, trap bar? What about the grip? It can depend on the person and potentially some specific goals. No of those are wrong. All are useful.
When I train I should squat right? Back squats are king. Should I put the bar high or low on my back? Well, it depends on your goal. Are you a powerlifter (likely a low bar position), olympic lifter (high bar) or a strength enthusiast (???)? You decide what works for you.
Back squats are awesome but not for every body. I have found zercher squats work quite well for a lot of people. The squatting movement gets cleaned up pretty quickly. Everyone should do them then? It depends. They sure aren’t comfortable on the arms, in which case I am not going to force them on anyone, and usually we pair lower body pushing (ex. zercher squats) with upper body pulling. That doesn’t work too well in pairing with a pull up. Too taxing on the arms.
Speaking of arms, are curls good or bad? Should I do them? Well, it depends on how much time you have and what your goals are. Those pull ups should suffice but if your goal is to step on stage in a Speedo with a sweet spray tan you might need some extra arm work.
Should I train those pull ups for higher reps as I get better or for lower reps with added weight? That depends. Are you joining the military where your ability to perform many consecutive reps will be tested or are you a strength athlete where absolute strength will likely be preferred at some juncture?
Absolute strength, how much is enough? Hard to say. More is usually better, but only to a point. Consider both the physical toll and time cost of more. Where is that point? Depends on the athlete/person, where they are now and their physical requirements. Most NFL quarterbacks probably won’t WOW anyone with their “weight room” numbers if they can’t squat 315 and deadlift 450. They could potentially be stronger, if only to prevent injury, but what areas are of utmost priority? It varies. I feel that most humans (aside from NFL athletes) should be able to do a few push ups and pull up(s). Some have considerable enough prior injuries or postural issues that maybe that pull up just isn’t that important. There are plenty of other ways to meet larger goals.
Now I often rave about how simple training can be. “It Depends” is not meant to make things difficult, only to have you consider why you might choose one thing vs. another. In some cases it simply doesn’t matter, other times there are many variables that should go into your decision.
– Mike Baltren
Great stuff Mike! It’s so interesting how people seem to want to pigeon-hole themselves into very specific programs before asking if that is the best thing for them.
Keep up the great work there.