Someone on Facebook said she wanted to train her back harder than her grip would allow and asked which would be better, lifting straps or Versa Gripps. The answers bounced back and forth between the two options (usually bodybuilders doing the commenting) but I just had to offer a third option: neither.

“Old school – develop your grip strength so it’s not the weak link.”

Some of the clueless responses from a few bodybuilders about grip work interfering with arm and back day and how you couldn’t develop your back if you had to wait for your grip were sadly amusing.

If she did use the straps or Versa Gripps to allow for heavier loading of the back for the shake of back development (aesthetics), the grip would continue to be weaker than the muscles up the movement chain and will therefore be a rate limiter in the upper body’s functional strength. This imbalance could be source of future injuries, as well. And of course, this begs the question, why is there an imbalance in the first place?

When the focus of fitness is to look better naked in front of a mirror, concepts like correcting movement deficiencies, addressing strength weaknesses and the effects of rate limiters on functional strength have as much interest as broccoli to a 3 year old.

It is easy to pick on bodybuilding because to those on the outside, bodybuilding seems to be the extreme example of narcissistic frivolousness but alas, all exercise and fitness pursuits have a huge egocentric component, whether its picking up more weight, running faster/further or killing Fran or Fight Gone Bad.

(BTW, never underestimate the power of looking better naked in front of a mirror regardless of ones fitness passion. This is the major driving force in the fitness economy with performance improvements coming in a distant second.)

The point is that we are all results driven regardless in our fitness interests. We want improvements to arrive quicker and the process to be easier even if the shortcuts we take for short term gains have a high price at the back end. Seemingly innocent lifting straps are at one end of the shortcut continuum and PEDs at the other but they all are attempts to circumvent the body’s natural processes. All the things you chose to ignore, neglect and ill advised shortcuts taken will eventually show up during your Fitness Come to Jesus Meeting sometime in your 40’s & 50’s. And just know that the companying injuries that come during that meeting are served in a broccoli casserole, heavily seasoned with “I Told You So”.

Take shortcuts and ignore weakness at your own peril.

There, I just told you so. Go eat your broccoli!

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