Weight Training and Joint Pain:
An Interview With Bill DeSimone
- Part 4 -


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Bill DeSimone
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Bill DeSimone
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Aaron:

Well, it's good to hear that it's getting out there more. If somebody wanted to start doing more congruent exercises, what are two or three basic congruent exercises that you would recommend to them in place of say 'common' barbell type exercises or common exercises they're doing in the weight room?

Bill:


The first one would be to do some alternative to heavy barbell squats. So whether that's the Nitro leg press, which I prefer, or hip belt squats, or biking uphill, or even just using a lighter weight in the barbell squat with really precise form, some alternative to the heavy barbell squat. Again, assuming the person is not a power lifter. Assuming that they're goal isn't to squat as heavy as they can.

The second thing would be on a push-up or a chess press to use that specific range of motion where you're elbows aren't being driven back behind the plane of your body at the bottom of the rep.

The third would be the congruent chin, which I have a YouTube video for, and is pretty much the diametric opposite of the bouncing chin-up that you see a lot online.

So with those three exercises, some form of leg press, some form of push and a pull, they're probably going to get, most of what they're going to from weight training, and if they keep to those ranges that I'm talking about, probably with a minimum of aches and pains from the exercise.


Aaron:


That sounds great. I hope some people pick those up and start using them.


Bill:


One thing about that type of 'consolidated routine', as it's come to be called... If someone does that and isn't happy with what they end up with- let's say, they don't think their triceps or biceps are big enough from that- then it's worth trying adding in a specific bicep or a specific tricep exercise.

There's one thing that's pretty clear from the biomechanics texts, is that if there's more than one muscle in a chain doing a task, the body is going to pick the biggest muscle in the chain to do most of the work, as an energy saving measure.

In a chin-up, for instance, the lats are going to do most of the work, because they're the biggest muscle in the chain; which is not to say that the biceps and the other smaller muscles aren't doing work. But the lats are going to take the brunt of the work, because they require less energy for the lat to do the task compared to one of the smaller forearm flexors.

If somebody is interested in, for whatever reason, cosmetic purposes, or they want to attempt to develop their physique in a balanced fashion, they probably have to do more than those three exercises. You would have to do at least one exercise where that muscle is the biggest muscle in the chain. Which still ends up being a lot less than the magazines would have you do.


Aaron:


Yeah, with 12 or even 15 exercises, or something like that.


Bill:


Or even the classic Darden or Mentzer routines, where most of the superficial muscles are covered in the course of a week, where that muscle is the biggest muscle in the chain, to cover all the bases. Again, we're still talking about a relatively small amount of time.


Aaron:


So, transitioning a little bit, what is your take on functional training, CrossFit, and this whole emphasis on doing exercises that are directly functional, however those people are defining that?


Bill:


Well, there is the first problem. Functional training means whatever the person says it means. Again, like I point out in the book, to me the best parts of this functional training “catalog”, let's call it that, the best parts of it distinguish between the muscles that move the limbs and the muscles that stabilize the joints and suggest appropriate training for each of them.

The worst part of the functional training “catalog” ignores that distinction and risks your long term joint health for the sake of a hard work out right now. As if the hard work immunizes you against chronic joint issues.

So as far as "Functional Training," that's my take on it. It's not all useless. There is a role for some of it, but a lot of times it's just used as an excuse for sloppy form or sloppy manual labor masquerading as exercise.


Aaron:


And just by the CrossFit story you shared earlier, there are definitely those people who get results they like but are injured or just otherwise...


Bill:


Well, again, the issue isn't the results. Productive isn't necessarily the issue. Margin of error is the issue. So, personally, CrossFit or P-90X or any boot camp-inspired work out is just not my preference. It's just not my thing. I think you get too caught up in being competitive and keeping up the pace that you don't pay attention to posture and how you're loading your joints.

If somebody likes that pace of no rest, I suggest in the back of the book, just line up congruent exercises in a no-rest format and just don't take the rest. But if sloppy form becomes a measure of how hard a person's working, and you're getting congratulated on sloppy form, I just don't think it bodes well for the future of that person's joints.

The other thing is, again, this is a preference, but all this congratulating themselves for getting through a tough workout. They're not doing it for their team, like a sport, where you're playing hurt. And they’re not doing it as an actual boot camp when you're doing it for a unit. They're doing it for selfish purposes. They're beating their own joints up and congratulating themselves on beating their own joints up.

To me, rather, if I have competitive urges I want to get out of my system, I'll do an actual sport rather than take it out on my own body. Do a sport and take it out on somebody else's body.

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DeSimone
Interview





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