Diversify Your Training Portfolio

DeShawn Fairbairn

NASM Certified Personal Trainer

Brooklyn, New York, United States

Personal Training, Fencing, Karate


As an aspiring professional bodybuilder, entering the area of Chinese weightlifting in some regard is foreign. Why would a bodybuilder train two times daily for two weeks without bodybuilding training being the cornerstone of the programming?


Sure, the front squat, back squat, deadlift, pull up, dip, overhead press, and weighted abdominal sit-ups are a backbone to overall strength, but to most, they are irrelevant and not sport-specific.



After my trip to Changsha Hunan Vocational College, along with the opportunity to learn from Olympic athletes, I realized the importance of relative strength and how one may exploit this to become better.


The Role of Relative Strength

Relative strength, according to the American Council on Exercise, is the “amount of force generated per unit of body weight.


It can be increased by using all of the various types of strength training to improve the magnitude of force production while maintaining or reducing total body mass. If neuromuscular efficiency and muscle force production increase while maintaining a consistent body mass, relative strength will increase.”


I believe having an off-season program which demonstrates an emphasis on powerlifting and weightlifting provides an athlete the mobility, strength, stamina, and power required to excel.


This occurs because the greater emphasis is applied to biomechanics, mobility drills, and technique over ideas such as tempo scheme, time under tension, failure, pyramid training, and tricks to restrict blood flow like blood flow restriction/katsu.




In order to maximize relative strength, incorporate calisthenics (both weighted and non-weighted), powerlifting, weightlifting, and bodybuilding style training with a healthy dose of cardio. I also want to emphasize the importance of working on weaknesses. Do not allow yourself to fall behind on weak points for the sake of trying the latest program or stroking your ego.


Something that Coach Jianping Ma of MaStrength taught me is the importance of adding in myofascial release with training and acupuncture while modifying my off-season to incorporate more weightlifting—all of which will increase my mobility significantly.


For example, during a three-month period, one should focus on building a strength foundation in the basic movements and lifts along with basic calisthenics. After this period is over, the body has begun to adapt and now it's necessary to focus on correction and increasing mobility through unstable environments such as dumbbell focused training and unilateral work.


As that period comes to a close, incorporating both aspects into one program can begin. For the average person, six months is the required amount of time needed to dedicate oneself fully to programs and begin an individualized journey.


However, it should be noted that you must diversify your training to yield the best result. As a bodybuilder, training in this way has allowed me to withstand greater weights for longer periods of time, deload more effectively in the off-season, and increase my endurance and conditioning in-season.


Keep An Open Mind

Coaching has helped me navigate the different avenues of strength such as weightlifting and bodybuilding and it may assist you in our goals. However, always remember to stay open-minded to new ways of lifting in order to maximize your genetic potential.


Lift with love my friends.

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