The combination of body weight movements—gymnastics—and classic weights external to the body creates a body that is both strong and lean. There’s a miss conception that many people have that simply using weights will make you bulky. If you want to get bulky you have to work pretty hard at it. The normal picture of the gym rat pumping iron fits the bill for what needs to get done put on bulk. Lots of reps with a relatively light weight will develop a muscle that is relatively bulky—if you only use 5 lbs., for instance, you’ll develop a bulky muscle that can lift five lbs. This type of training builds up the surrounding of the muscle cells—the sarcolema—not the cells themselves, so relative to size the muscle isn’t that strong.

We use the gymnastic movements to provide a context for the weight lifting we do. Let me explain with a story. The other day my wife and I were in the grocery store when we ran into a man we used to train with. He asked me if I was still doing things like pull-ups. This guy is someone who subscribes to the theory that the pursuit of pure strength is all that matter. You may be able to tell from his question that he was never really able to a pull-up and that adding something like a push-up into the training mix is seen as a waste of time. Unfortunately in life there are many more opportunities for us to perform at body weight than there are at our one rep maximum. We need to be strong enough to push our car out of a snow bank, but we also need the neuro-muscular coordination to do it.

Blending our training with gymnastic training as well as weight lifting will provide us with a body that is strong, has an increased metabolic demand as well as one that can appropriate apply the strength to a movement situation we may meet outside of the controlled environment of a gym.

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