Physical culture, and the niche of fitness, usually focuses itself on 2 objectives; looking attractive (by whatever standard is accepted) and performing at a high level (again different criteria can be applied). There should be a 3rd goal- to injury proof your body and insulate it from mileage related decline-but let’s save that for another time.
As the evolution of the weight lifting enthusiast has moved thru traditional various sports; olympic lifting, to power lifting, to bodybuilding, to cross fit, etc.- the standards of what equals “you have arrived, you are legit now!” has shifted from time to time.
We are all learning from each other; as we pursue this path throughout our lives, getting both positive and negative feedback, we can course correct and use the tools available to us to achieve more refined and satisfying goals. Translation?
The guy who passed out under a max clean and jerk, ate himself into a 700 lb squat before he blew out a knee, and endured agonizing tendonitis in his elbows trying to build his arms to 19 inches for the Mr. America contest is a true journeyman on the path of physical culture, and if you can learn from his experience rather than make the same mistakes…isn’t that great?
Pick the goals that lead to your desired outcome. If you ARE an olympic lifter, then YES you must focus on those lifts and take the risks commensurate with being elite. Same applies to power lifting, body building, etc. Here’s the thing; if you aren’t getting paid to do those things, i.e. a professional, then it’s probably a bad choice of goals. I repeat; if you aren’t getting paid to perform, then don’t take dumb risks to perform them.
Enter the 400 meter dash: Why the 400? It’s a sprint, the longest sprint, and a great goal. The capacity to spring is PRIMAL, and while some concession to father time in terms of speed is fine, you should maintain the capacity to sprint at all…which many fitness people cannot do. The capacity to run for 400 meters without a break shows you have strength, stamina, and resilience. For now forget the time, even most of you fitness people will crumble trying to finish a 400 (ask me how I know-humbling).
Here is the way to use the 400 meter dash (and I’ll throw in the deadlift as well) to achieve results.
- Don’t get hurt. Run on soft grass with good shoes
- Practice efficient running technique- utube will work for tutorials
- Your first goal is to achieve the capacity to sprint 400 meters
- Use a football or soccer field and guestimate the distance
- Train the 400 twice a week; you can run various distances from 40 to 400, but keep the total distance under 1000 meters.
- You objective in each session is to improve-your conditioning, your technique, and your resilience. AND avoid injury.
Deadlift: My preference these days is for the hex bar: it’s less demanding on biomechanics, easier technique, and more versatile. As a TOOL: Twice week
- sets of 3-5 build primarily limit strength
- sets of 8-12 build primarily muscle
- This ass kicker of a movement will work wonders if you work in those two ranges and keep the total reps around 40 give or take a few
- This is key: use it as a TOOL and NOT a test. This means a on a set of 3 you certainly could do 5 (at least on the first set). Same for a set of 8-you could do 12, at least on the first set.
Bottomline: Using the 400 meter sprint & the hex bar deadlift as a TOOLS, will work great; possibly better than anything else- for functional fitness. But I know you want numbers to shoot for: Ok, here they are-
- Number of visits to urgent care: Zero. No injuries
- Number of hex bar deadlifts for 12 reps: 150-175% of bodyweight
- Time for a 400 meter dash- (the world record is under 45 seconds) if you can finish yours in around a minute or so give or take a few seconds (probably give) then hold your head high! If you can finish without walking-you are legit.
Note these numbers don’t equate to world class performance…and this is good! Use these as tools to build yourself up, do not tear yourself down with them, physically or mentally. Be you best.