Art of Strength & Conditioning
by Dustin Hawkins
The art of Strength and Conditioning lies within linear progression. You will only come to understand this truth of the art if you come to find yourself working in a linear way, meaning tracking strength progress so that you can add weight to your loads each training session. In WAR we put all of our efforts into developing the squat, namely the low bar back squat. So if we are squatting on Monday and Thursday we will have needed to make progress in our loading on Thursday compared to Monday. Then from Thursday to Monday we will have needed to make progress in our loading on Monday compared to the previous Thursday; and so on and so fourth we will go working the sets across model, meaning sticking to the same weight for three to five sets across on a five rep scheme (3-5 x 5). So maybe the first Monday you do three sets of five reps with using sixty-five pounds. Then on Thursday you do three sets of five reps with using seventy-five pounds. And you will continue this upward progression each and every week, adding small increments of weight to insure that linear progression remains steady.
I have found that this linear progressive model can continue on for upwards of ten weeks (and even more), that is if the programming on the other gym experience days are programmed properly. The nutrition will also come to play an important role, and maybe the most important role since it is true that what fuel we put in to our human engine is what determines how our human engine runs, performs, and recovers. Also, if you get in the habit of cutting your squat short as your weight gets heavier due to you trying to jump too fast, then your progress will most definitely stall out and can’t remain.
Depth and range of motion has to be consistent in all lifts, especially the squat. At first, your consistency and flexibility will be lacking, however, as you keep working at it you will come to find this consistency and flexibility, though just as in all facets of life, you must work to gain it and not get lazy in your approach to doing so.
Once you’ve developed the necessary coordination to perform the low bar back squat on a consistent basis, and with having perfect technique, it is then that the programming can become more artistic and fun. Now at the end of a sets across squat session you can take eighty percent of that set across load and perform a max reps set, or even and eight rep scheme, where you rest sixty seconds, and then perform another eight rep scheme. So now at this level you’re presented with little rest, or a max effort for reps set that will not only increase your heart rate, but will also promote mental toughness and muscular endurance.
When an individual finally gets to the point in their strength and conditioning journey where they now can perform multiple sets of the low bar with now having the ability to handle more physical and mental stress than ever before – then that is when the art of strength and conditioning can become seen by them. This art, with what started off with the low bar, can then advance into the vast world of strength and conditioning because they will now have the coordination to do all things. Their posterior chain will be strong and mature enough that they will now realize how this powerful chain can be of use to them in all areas of their life. From them learning the low bar, and the beautiful art of the hip drive, they will have become familiar on how to use their hamstrings and lower back in a way that promotes longevity, wellness, and athleticism.
For the person that struggles often with the dark addicted mind then this art of strength and conditioning can be the light that can pull them out of the shadows. Since the low bar recruits so much muscle when done properly, then it only makes sense that muscle growth will happen due to the broad range of motion that this movement gives way to. The body of the participator will most definitely change, and the feeling of toughness and accomplishment they will feel running through their system as they linear progress in this lift is matched by no other lift due to the Low Bars innate ability to stimulate the central nervous system – which then causes a testosterone release to occur that promotes confidence and a feeling of well being.
It’s the learning of how to handle a barbell that also makes up the art of strength and conditioning. Knowing the grips, understanding the loading and how to use percentages, when to back off, and when to go for it. If this art, along with much more, isn’t pursued to be learned then you will never come to understand or experience strength and conditioning and how it might pertain to saving you from your own addictive self. When you are in a garage gym setting, and you find yourself going hard with using a barbell properly – then you can actually escape your own self for a time especially if your intensity is so high that it causes you to be uncomfortable. It is during this time that your addiction can’t even come close to touching you.
A lot of times the addict cannot escape the torments of their own mind, which is why relapse is common. However, the Art of Strength and Conditioning carries so much power in its ability to create a sport that can be tracked – that it will give you the opportunity to set goals for yourself, which is something that all human beings need to have (goals) in their life anyway in order to keep making personal progress.
It’s seems that the barbell is the piece that completes the addiction puzzle. It’s used with chalk; it’s used in the clean & jerk; it’s used in the snatch; and of course it’s in the squats, playing the cornerstone roll in all of these big lifts. Lifts that if done properly, and linearly, they create a confidence in all of life, making it so that your old way of life is but a glimpse in your mind due to it now being focused on the barbell way of life.
The posterior chain is what feeds athleticism. And by feeling athletic we can feel confident, since feeling and being athletic is fun. This concept holds especially true for all age groups. The young kid can benefit greatly from developing athleticism because now they are more prone to being good at sports, which them remaining good at sports will keep them active in playing something healthy as apposed to them hanging out in all the wrong places after school – and with all the wrong people.
For the individual who is in their mid twenties, thirties, forties, or even fifties, feeling athletic can be quite beneficial to them as well since they will feel young and athletic, now giving them the opportunity to enjoy all of life’s physical labors without having fear.
It is starting to be my understanding that as we travel forward in age that we are supposed to try our best at staying as a child. As children we were not only innocent in our thinking, but we were also innocent in our physical selves. We jumped, we ran, we played, we threw rocks and baseballs, we road bikes, and because of us doing these things we remained healthy and happy. So it is now, as we get older that we stop doing all of these things because we claim that we are too busy, or too old for that matter. And what’s happened? Many have dark minds or addiction problems. So what I’m promoting is that in order for us to truly be healed of our addiction disease then we must get back into running, jumping, lifting weights, and playing so that we can get back in touch with our child self.
Fear seams sideline us all at times, especially as we travel past our addiction and upwards in age. The clear life can be scary at first, but it is through the Art of Strength & Conditioning that we can learn to fear no more. The barbell can act as a magical wand, and if used properly can help us to transform mentally, physically, and spiritually. The mental comes in the form of diligence and discipline, and also in the learning of how to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. The physical comes in the form of developing a deep underlying strength, which then leads to an actual physical transformation that then breeds confidence. The spiritual comes in the form of the perfect platform that Strength and Conditioning creates for the ushering in of charitable concepts, and how it can feed light into the darkest of all minds.
Search to familiarize yourself with how to use a barbell. The way of the barbell lifestyle is a life full of strength in mind, body, and spirit. Don’t spend too much time on trying to build up your small muscles by doing curls, or focusing on you calves; but rely on the big lifts since they are the ones that have the capability of changing the way that you think, even making you mentally tougher.
I have found, that if I can take someone who struggles intensely with addiction and teach them this truth concerning strength and conditioning then I can help them to change and become their best self. If I can get them to work hard not only while they are with me but also when then are not with me, then I can help them to further advance their understanding of how it is that they too can come to live the full, abundant life.