Why We Train the Way We Train
Written by: Coach Slater
Why do we squat and deadlift? Why do we clean and snatch? Why do we tell you to lift heavy and move fast? Why don’t we do small, repetitive movements like at those Barre classes? Why not whatever-the-fuck-they’re-doing-at-HomeFit? Why do we train the way we train at Derby City?
First of all, it’s important we emphasize that heavy, multi-joint, compound movements, those which utilize many different muscle groups at the same time, are the best for creating metabolic change which leads to muscle adaptation and fat loss. The best. Hands down. Proven over and over again. They’re the best at increasing lean muscle mass and elevating post-workout energy expenditure. That’s why we perform these movements all the time at Derby City.
There are many movement patterns (i.e., squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, rotating, jumping, throwing) that we can utilize in different directions (forward, sideways, side-to-side) in different manners (i.e., single-leg vs dual-leg) with different loading implements (i.e., barbell vs kettlebell).
For example, you’ve probably seen some variation of these movements at Derby City:
Hinge – deadlift, clean, snatch
Squat – back squat, front squat, overhead squat
Single-Leg Squat – lunge, step up, front-foot elevated lunge
Vertical Push – strict press, push press
Vertical Pull – pullup, chin-up, chest-to-bar pullup
Horizontal Push – pushup, hand release pushup, banded pushup
Horizontal Pull – ring row, bent over row
Core Work – planks, hanging knee raises, toes-to-bar
Accessory – wall slides, turkish get-ups, farmers carries
These are just a handful of movements that we think can be safely loaded and trained properly. In general, these are all functional movements, common to your daily life. We program these movements in various manners to give our bodies the most stimulus, in accordance with something called the Strength-Speed Continuum. It looks like this:
Absolute Strength — Strength-Speed — Speed-Strength — Absolute Speed
The more you focus on movements on the far left, the stronger you get, at the expense of speed on the far right. The more you move right, the opposite happens. Absolute Strength is like your 1-rep max in the back squat: high amount of load but relatively low speed. Absolute Speed is like a sprint and box jumps. Strength-Speed is moving heavy weight as fast as possible, like a heavy-ass power clean. Speed-Strength is like rotational slamball throws or lightweight snatches moved quickly. Each component supports each other, so to be your fittest, you need to work on each one but to different degrees, and to what degree depends on your current level of fitness. Someone just starting at Derby City might find that a simple air squat, pushup, or kettlebell deadlift is a great test of Absolute Strength.
If you want to nerd out for a little bit, here’s an in-depth explanation of the Strength-Speed Continuum from renown strength coach, Eric Cressey. He’s smart.
Now, let’s go back to that lean muscle thing that I mentioned earlier. Lean muscle burns more calories. A big problem with “cardio” for fat loss is that more you do, the better you get at it, and the more fuel efficient you become. But, if your goal is fat loss, then you actually want to be “inefficient” and burn as much fuel as possible. If, instead of endless cardio, you focus on getting stronger, you’ll perform other training (WODs) at a higher/faster rate which makes them more effective at eliminating body fat.
Barre isn’t going to give you long, lean muscles. Your genes are going to determine their length. Someone with long femurs will have long muscles. Someone with short femurs will have short muscles. If you want to be leaner, learn to use your body efficiently by squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, rotating, jumping, throwing and picking up heavy weight. If you like Barre, Pilates, or Home-Fit because it’s fun and you have some friends doing it and it’s fun to try something new with them… then hey! Cool! Do that. No one’s saying that it can’t be fun. But, don’t think those things or a local 5k will help you get in shape forever. They’re nice, but they’re not a solution. Instead, lift heavy and move fast like we already do here at Derby City.
Robertson, Mike, “Q&A: Power Development“.
Yeung, Anthony, “Strength Training (Part 11 of 30): Strength, Speed, and Power