Over the last few years, the weightlifting movement has shifted towards powerlifting. Many people are trying hard to improve their squat, bench press and deadlift.
I used to be one of those guys. Once I asked a random guy to spot me during a bench PR. He said that my grip is too narrow.
“The narrow grip saves my shoulders,” I replied.
Then he asked me why I was doing only 4 reps.
“Cause I am training for strength,” I said and kept the “fuck you, moron” part silent.
His response was: “What do you need that strength for?”
This is my exact question to the guys who are killing themselves in the pursuit of arbitrary numbers.
How strong do you need to be, really?
Honestly, most sports do not require exceptional strength.
There is a point beyond which developing more strength does not help you. Who is the better swimmer? The one with a 225lbs bench press or the one with a 315lbs bench press? Neither. Both can be taken down by a guy with a 135lbs bench press. Strength training is not a panacea. In fact, the best athletes are rarely the strongest ones unless we are talking about weightlifting or powerlifting.
Highly technical sports such as skateboarding could serve as an example. In case you don’t know, skateboarders are some of the weakest humans on Earth. Most skaters are super skinny and have sunken chests coupled with 18-inch legs. Why? Because the sport is all about technique, skill development and mental strength. The strength requirements are pretty low. Of course, strength can help you, but it won’t improve your skills. You have to practice, practice, break something and practice again. Barbell exercises cannot replace skill work.
Strength sports are boring
One of the reasons why many people get caught into the “how much do you lift?” mindset is that strength training is actually very boring. The only way to make it more interesting is to add weight to the bar. Once you can do the exercises, your skill work is essentially done. You don’t get to experience the joy of developing newer skills.
In short, adding more biscuits to the bar is one of the few ways to experience a high during weightlifting.
“But, Mark Rippetoe says that strength training fixes everything. Squat or die, pussy!”
Strength training does not fix everything. It helps, but it will never ever replace specific skill work.
Simply put, Rippetoe is biased.