Big Without Strong is Nothing

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In keeping with the “back to basics” theme from yesterday, here’s my latest article published on which served as more of “rant” piece than anything else.

It’s pretty awesome.  You should check it out.

I’m a strength coach. I spend much of my day making people bigger, faster, and stronger – with a heavy emphasis on the latter.

I love the effect something as simple as getting stronger has on the human body. Performance improves while imbalances fade, and with time a slow, brittle physique is replaced by something stronger, faster, more athletic, and seemingly forged from titanium alloy.

Not to mention, more muscular – which is why a small piece of my soul dies every time I hear something like, “Getting strong isn’t really important to me, I’d rather just look strong.”

I understand the aesthetic bias we have as a society, and that having a six-pack is higher on many trainee’s priority list than how much weight they can deadlift.

But one of the things I take pride in as a coach is my ability to keep things simple, so for all you lifters with iPhones filled with shirtless bathroom pictures, let me state this as simply as I can:

It’s imperative to build a solid base of strength in order to build mass. And if you train for strength – and don’t eat like a moron – the aesthetics you crave will undoubtedly follow.

I doubt you’ve seen many guys who bench 405 or squat 500 that are small. On the other hand, walk into just about any commercial gym and you’ll see loads of 150-pound dudes running the rack on curls and performing drop sets of triceps pushdowns.

What good is a six-pack and veiny 14-inch arms if you can’t deadlift your way out of a wet paper bag and your waif-like body resembles something that would get crushed against the wall by a surging crowd of angst-filled teenaged girls at an Avril Lavigne mall appearance?

If you’re a newbie (or even someone who’s been training for a few years and just not happy with the end results), this article will serve as a reminder to focus on the basics, get strong, and steal a page from Ms. Lavigne and stop making things so complicated!

Continue Reading….. (<—– 8/10 dentist recommend it)

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

Comments for This Entry

  • Michael Gray

    Awesome stuff T!  Always love hearing about how you guys do things at CP.

    April 25, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Juliet

    I laughed reading over this since you actually DO write "eat copious amounts of dead animal flesh" into your programming. Great work on this one!

    April 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Alicia

    “Getting strong isn’t really important to me, I’d rather just look strong.” <-- who are these tragic cast-offs from the Jersey Shore and what provoked them to walk into Cressey Performance?! 

    April 25, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Anthony J. Yeung

    So true, Tony. It's strange how dramatically priorities have changed. Even top bodybuilders have foundations in the Big 3 -- Arnold was a powerlifter and Olympic weightlifter before he started crushing those Mr. Olympias. Novices, however,  only see the bicep curls and tricep kickbacks and run to the gym to pound those out. I think my favorite exercise is "Seriously, go eat something." (Extremely underrated.) 

    April 25, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Coach8a

    Awesome stuff Tony! I tell my young lifters to put away the P90x videos and quit trying to fit into Skinny Jeans! AAAHHHH I hate those damn skinny jeans!

    April 26, 2012 at 9:30 am | Reply to this comment

  • Kyle Schuant

    It's interesting that you write you should de-clutter your training. When I write programmes for my members, I always try to do this. But it's not always welcome. I had the following conversation with a young man who'd been coming to the gym with the goal of "get bigger" for four years and had a 45kg bench, had never squatted, could not perform a chinup, etc. After I showed him through his new routine, he said, "Okay, but this routine would only take about half an hour. I want to spend an hour here.""You could just talk to the girls.""What?""You may find it takes longer when the weights are heavier. Squatting and benching 20kg you can go again straight away, 60kg will be a bit different.""Still, so quick..." "If you want, just add on some cardio, aim for 20 minutes with your heart rate around 140.""Will this help me with my goals?""Not really. But it won't do you any harm and will make your routine take an hour.""Okay, I'll do it."  Some people want clutter, it makes them feel busy, and we all know busy is productive, right?

    April 27, 2012 at 12:28 am | Reply to this comment

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