Do You Really Need Weightlifting?
Iron Game History
“Strength training is not a modern invention. Egyptian tombs show pictures of lifting bags filled with sand and stone swinging and throwing exercises… dumbbells originated in the 1700’s when a rod was placed between two church bells. When a clapper was removed from the bells, they became silent, or dumb, hence the word dumbbell. Indian clubs, which resemble a bowling pin and kettle balls (cast-iron balls with a handle), were popular in the early 1800’s.”
“Although professional strongmen apparently found individual metal workers who created spherical dumbbells and barbells for their shows, the average man who wanted to emulate these show- men had difficulty finding weight training equipment. In America, that problem was finally solved by Alan Calvert of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who founded the Milo Barbell Company in 1902.”
“The principal defect of bells that load only with plates is that they cannot be increased in weight except in jumps of 5 lbs or more. In order to practice weightlifting safely and successfully you must have a bell that can be increased one ounce at a time if necessary—and this alone makes it unwise to use a bell which loads only with iron plates.”
Does Weightlifting Do All that?
“The training studies in the literature that have utilized traditional strength and power training programmes, which involved exercises being performed bilaterally in the vertical direction (e.g. Olympic-style lifts, squats, deadlifts, plyometrics, vertical jumping), have mostly failed to elicit improvements in [change of direction] performance.”
“A biological system that enables us to know where our bodies are in the environment and to maintain a desired position. Normal balance depends on information from the inner ear, other senses (such as sight and touch) and muscle movement.”
Not Everyone Is Built for Weightlifting
“Olympic lifting must find the lifter. Not the other way around, given the special anatomical gifts needed to lift with efficiency and injury resiliency. The flexibility required in the hips and shoulders in many cases is a gift from your parents. No matter how much stretching is attempted, some will never have the hip and shoulder socket anatomy to deep squat and support a bar overhead.”
Effective Alternatives to Olympic Weightlifting
Kettlebells and Sandbags
Sleds and Carries
“Exercises are tools to get specific jobs done… Usually the best exercise is the one that creates the largest effect with the minimal risk to the joints. If the purpose is to create hip extension power, then exercises such as weighted carries and sled drags have to be considered.”
“The farmers lift may be an effective lifting alternative to the deadlift, to generating more anterior-propulsive and vertical force with less stress to the lumbar spine due to the more vertical trunk position.”4
“… the heavy sled pull may improve acceleration sprinting performance in many athlete types and the ability to break and make tackles in contact sports such as American football and the rugby codes.”5
Better Tools for the Job
1. Brughelli, Matt, John Cronin, Greg Levin, and Anis Chaouachi. "Understanding change of direction ability in sport." Sports Medicine 38, no. 12 (2008): 1045-1063.
2. Bressel, Eadric, Joshua C. Yonker, John Kras, and Edward M. Heath. "Comparison of static and dynamic balance in female collegiate soccer, basketball, and gymnastics athletes." Journal of Athletic Training 42, no. 1 (2007): 42.
3. Peltenburg, A. L., W. B. M. Erich, M. J. E. Bernink, and I. A. Huisveid. "Selection of talented female gymnasts, aged 8 to 11, on the basis of motor abilities with special reference to balance: a retrospective study." International Journal of Sports Medicine 3, no. 01 (1982): 37-42.
4. Winwood, Paul W., John B. Cronin, Scott R. Brown, and Justin WL Keogh. "A biomechanical analysis of the farmers walk, and comparison with the deadlift and unloaded walk." International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching 9, no. 5 (2014): 1127-1143.
5. Keogh, Justin WL, Craig Newlands, Sandra Blewett, Amenda Payne, and Lin Chun-Er. "A kinematic analysis of a strongman-type event: The heavy sprint-style sled pull." Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 24, no. 11 (2010): 3088-3097.
6. Lake, Jason P., and Mike A. Lauder. "Kettlebell swing training improves maximal and explosive strength." Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 26, no. 8 (2012): 2228-2233.
7. Manocchia, Pasquale, David K. Spierer, Adrienne KS Lufkin, Jacqueline Minichiello, and Jessica Castro. "Transference of kettlebell training to strength, power, and endurance." Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 27, no. 2 (2013): 477-484.