The Budo Blog has been swimming in fairly deep waters lately so I figured it would be nice to just have some fun.
It all started with this meme, and the responses I received after I posted it.
Jacob Shepherd: HEY! Some of us don’t have a choice.
Kasey Keckeisen: There is always a choice
Jacob Shepherd: Not when you have to use your apartment gym
Kasey Keckeisen: If that gym has dumbbells I’ll give you at least 3 better exercises than Smith Machine Squats
Jacob Shepherd: Do it
Kasey Keckeisen: Ok I’ll pm you some stuff
Allison MacDonald: I’d be interested too. I need to lift more (and smarter)
Nathan Corliss: I don’t use smith but gun shy putting the bar back in the back. Would like some dumbbell alternatives
Kasey Keckeisen: Ah, ok - This just became next week's blog
I thought to myself, I'm old and broken why are folks asking fitness advice from me?
Also, c'mon guys a simple google search should answer most of your questions.
So I did a Google search
What I found was young athletes with unlimited gym space and equipment doing super heavy alternatives to barbell back squats for no apparent reason other than they were getting too strong and got bored.
Then it made sense why folks were asking me. The information readily available was of little value to them.
If you can barbell back squat - do it. There may be several reasons why you can't
If you can't and you continue to lift you have to ask...
What are you lifting for?
- To be more dangerous
- To be a more effective fighter
- To remove yourself from victim profiles
- To maintain muscle mass
If you are lifting for some form of increased physical performance then you have to be smart.
You are lifting to be a better fighter, not fighting to be a better lifter, or more accurately fighting heavier weights.
There are plenty of people at nearly every gym in the world that are fighting to be a "better" lifter.
These are the people that load a ridiculous amount of weight onto a smith machine or a leg press machine and do 1/8 (no rep) squats.
These folks aren't much different than those that inject Synthol
In that they are not actually getting stronger, they are not increasing any form of physical performance.
They want to appear strong, and don't quite get that only the extremely uninformed could possibly be impressed by what they are doing.
Sadly the attempt to appear stronger without actually becoming stronger often leads to severe injury.
Clearly you are not one of these people, or you wouldn't bother reading this blog, or seeking out any information for that matter.
I mention it because if you are lifting for increased physical performance, lifting to be a better fighter, then the weight you move doesn't matter. You are not trying to impress anyone.
The weight doesn't matter, only the progress toward your performance goals.
I would argue that even body weight only exercises done with good form and through your best range of motion would increase your athletic performance more than weighted exercises on a Smith Machine that removes 5 out of the 6 axes of motion.
If you call bull shit on that look up the conditioning routines Martin "Farmer" Burns and Karl Gotch used to prepare for Wrestling
(This guy knew a thing or two about old man athletic performance)
If you do have access to weights, even better.
I recently came across a post written by Stefi Cohen that I shared with my daughter.
"Women need iron. Not the vitamin. The barbell. We are trained by the world around us to have fucked up ideas about our bodies; iron unfucks them. We are taught that the only good direction for the scale to go is down, and to agonize ritualistically when it goes up. Iron teaches us the power of gaining weight for strength and gives us another weight to care about – the weight we are lifting.
We are taught to think of our bodies as decorative, an object to be looked at; iron teaches us to think of our bodies as functional, our own active selves, not passive objects for another’s regard. Whole industries exist to profit by removing from us our confidence and selling it back as external objects. Iron gives us confidence from within through progressive training and measurable achievements.
We are taught to be gentle and hide our strength or even to cultivate charming physical weakness until we start to believe our bodies are weak. Iron teaches us how strong we can be."
Women need iron, all humans need iron, and not just young athletic ones.
Being more powerful, more agile makes you more dangerous.
Limping puts you on victim profiles.
So getting stronger without damaging yourself becomes vitally important
Maybe I am the hero that thread needed.
So I promised at least three dumbbell squat alternatives...
Here are four Old Man Judo (getting stronger without damaging yourself) Squat variations
Besides working your quads, you can also add extra stuff like shrugs and toe raises.
Holding enough weight to work you legs also works your grip.
Sink down get your hip hinge below your knees - load the weight.
Pause at the bottom. Let the weight help you increase you range of motion (hip hinge below your knees). Press up
World's slowest Burpee:
If you have a question please post it in the comments. It might become a future installment of the Budo Blog.
Train hard, Train smart (getting stronger without damaging yourself), Be safe
"...So you will know your own strength and be happy"