Sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to write about until I write it. I’ll start a blog post without having any kind of idea for a thesis. I play it by ear, see where my thoughts take me, and “wing it”. Sometimes it works out and it turns into something. Other times I delete the whole post and walk away feeling like I’ve wasted a small amount of my ever-so valuable time. I think I’m doing this right now – the whole “wing it” thing.
There isn’t a whole lot that’s new right now. Politics are pretty much the same – high gas prices, the Republican primary continues, nothing super interesting happening. You know when people are talking about Obama’s daughter’s vacation that things are slow in politics. But hey – we can always fall back on the weather. That’s the cliche, right? “So, the weather has been interesting, ey?” Well, really it has. It’s March and I’m already using my air conditioner. It’s not great for my energy costs, but on the plus side, it means that its warm enough to work out outside.
I’ve talked about the pros of working out at home versus at a commercial gym. (You can read the post HERE.) You avoid a lot of the problems that public gyms have, but sometimes public gyms offer things that a home rarely can offer. For me, this means overhead presses. If I’m working out in my basement, it’s kind of hard to be doing power cleans, push presses, and the occasional snatch. I prefer to do these exercises outside, but in the winter these exercises pretty much lose their place in my training program.
But summer is back, at least it is for the next few days, and I’ve taken the bar outdoors again. I’m getting the hang of things. Its been a few months since I’ve done any olympic lifts, so I keep the weight relatively low, and concentrate on form. Nothing too fancy was done today – a few sets of power cleans, and a few sets of push presses. Gotta get myself back into the game, and I keep it simple at first.
These big lifts are great. They’re especially fun outside in the summer because they get your heart rate going real fast, and in the summer heat – they get you sweating real fast too. (Be sure to keep some chalk nearby so the bar won’t slip out of your hands.) The fresh air, the hot rays of the sun – everything is perfect for lifting. Its these lifts that are a lot of fun to do, and that have the best impact on your athletic ability. If you have a home gym, I strongly encourage you to take a bar and some plates outside and practice your olympic lifts.
The power clean is extremely useful for anyone involved in sports. It’s the exercise that forces your body to convert plain old strength into power. Explosiveness is key to the power clean, and explosiveness is key to most sports. Football, baseball, and wrestling all require an athlete to be fast AND strong. If being both fast and strong is your goal, better learn the power clean.
The other exercise I love to do outside is an oldie but a goodie – the press. As Mark Rippetoe says, “The Press is the oldest upper body exercise using a barbell. The day the barbell was invented, the guy who invented it figured out a way to pick it up and shove it over his head. After all, it is the logical thing to do with a weight.” He goes on to say, “…pressing the barbell overhead is still the most useful upper body exercise in the weight room.” There is nothing that will strengthen your shoulders more than the overhead press. The muscle control involved, especially when using heavy weight, is extreme, and extremely beneficial.
I’ll stick to those two for now. Really, guys. If you want to build muscle, skip the bicep curls and all the lame machines at the gym. Get outside, bring the barbell, and start moving some weights.