Your Weakest Link


People like to do things they are good at, and avoid things they are bad at. Its human nature. This is why people are often hesistant to try new things. Unfortunately this leads to increasing your strengths and magnifying your weaknesses. Some people have enough insight to recognize these issues, most people need a coach, and to listen to their coach.

I use the analogy of the weakest link in a chain, the chain might be strong enough to support several thousand pounds, but if a link is damaged, you will be limited to the strength of that weak link. Your body works the same way. There are many weak links in the body of the modern human, but I will focus on two which are easy and fun to fix.

Your core and your grip. These are not fun for most people to train, in fact, many people completely neglect or are unaware of grip training. Some people like core training, but think core training means working on their six pack. Here are some examples; when you are doing toes to bar or pull ups, you usually come down because your grip is slipping. Do you often tear your hands while doing bar gymnastic work, this is usually due to a loose grip on the bar causing friction. Do you need to mixed grip or use straps for a heavy deadlift or hook grip for olympic lifting, grip again. How often do you get stuck in the bottom of a squat and can't get up due to leg strength and the rest of your body is in perfect position. I doubt very often, usually you get pitched forward because your core is giving out. When you catch a heavy squat clean and loose the weight forward it is because your torso gets pitched forward because a lack of core stability. I could go on for ages with examples of this.

Some of the best exercise choices for these are some that people hate the most. Farmers carry and sandbag carries cover your grip and core. Heavy yoke walks are excellent for learning to brace your core. If you want to make the core work overtime try a front rack yoke carry, or even worse, a zercher yoke carry will punish your core more than anything I have found.

A good measure of strength for these exercises are as follows:

  Farmers carry - 50' with bodyweight per hand unbroken

  ‎Sandbag carry - 100' with bodyweight

  Yoke Carry - 50' with triple bodyweight

  Zercher Carry - 50' with double bodyweight

I remember when these numbers were maximal strength efforts for me, after several years of training, these are now metcon weights for me.

I also use every opportunity I have to help strengthem my grip, every little bit adds up. Some rules I follow are: Every time I pick up plates I pinch grip them and farmers carry them to my bar, I often train with an axle instead of a barbell , I NEVER mix grip a deadlift (I've seen enough ruptured biceps doing this), I always try and control the weight or kettlebell instead of dropping it from overhead, I set myself little rules such as doing at least sets of 5 instead of breaking down into "survival mode" and doing messy singles.

I can almost guarantee that if most people improved their grip and core strength injuries would reduce and performance would improve. As a side note, grip strength has been found to be a very good indicator of longevity.

Yours in health,
     Coach E

Crossfit Bytown