Monday, 25 January 2016

Daniel Carr and the fake powerclean.

How much ya bench? That’s a fundamental question in some circles. Crucial stuff.

The answer often comes in terms of ‘plates’, as in, “If I keep this up, this program, I should be benching three plates by the spring.” Or, “That guy’s big, but he’s not even benching his bodyweight, not even benching two plates.”

A plate is a big ‘Olympic’ weight which weighs 20 kg, = 45 lbs. The bar itself also weighs the same 45 lbs, so ‘cleaning or squatting or benching “one plate” means a plate on each side, plus the bar itself, so 45 + 45 + 45 = 135 lbs. Two plates means an additional plate on each side, so add 90 pounds, 225 lbs. Three plates is 315, four is 405, and you go from there, if you’re ever that strong, five plates is 495 lbs, etc.

Sure, it seems unnecessarily awkward, when we could use kilos, 20 is a lot neater, and it confuses the hell out of the Aussies and Brits, who struggle enough as it is with dimensional lumber, our 2 X 4’s that are 8 ft long, and aren’t truly 2 inches by 4 inches to begin with. But I didn’t invent this system. President Carter gave it his best shot.

Nowadays though, you can’t just with a glance tell how much some dude is benching or squatting. Impressive amounts of weight, by appearance, don’t always add up to what they seem.

That’s because of the new training systems, approaches, exemplified by CrossFit. They developed plates made out of plastic/rubber that are the size of a full plate, but weigh 5 or 10 kg, for a specific purpose. They allow someone to do powercleans and deadlifts from the ground, from a consistent height off the floor, whatever total weight is being used. As opposed to previously, when if you used a bar and 10 or 5 kg a side, the size of those discs was smaller, so the bar was much lower, closer to the ground. This affects the athlete’s form, coaching is different, bad habits can develop.

So fair game, I thought when these newfangled hideous things started infesting my gym, this will allow members to deadlift in safety, and when they reach the point when they can deadlift 135 lbs, they can stop using those atrocities and start using grownup weights.

Except that’s not what’s happening. People stack two or three of the lighter weights a side. They even, for some strange reason, use them on the leg press machine, they get all mixed up in there amongst the true, real, pure weight plates. Other beginners look for them to do their program, but some doofus is monopolizing them all, squatting four false plates a side.

Now, I’m all about embracing and thriving on change, I love change, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my routine in any way. And I hate these new plates, and the way newbies aren’t lifting weights the right way, the way God intended.

And when I see Daniel Carr powercleaning two plates as the image from that video seems to show at first glance, I get all excited at how strong the kid is. Until a second later when I take a closer look, and feel cheated.

Things were different back in my day…

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