Reduce weight or reduce reps

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Kung Fu Wang, Feb 5, 2020.

  1. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    (Just to butt in rudely! ;D)

    I see machines as having their place for sure. I think people taking hard lines of one OR the other is a bit extreme. Free weights are great as stabilising muscles get more work, and people love bandying around the 'real-world functional' argument (gets a bit overused and used in the wrong contexts), but you can still get a great deal of targeted work with machines. Even solely for maintaining and gaining strength, machines still have their place. Especially if injuries are prevalent, machines can help work around that. Still downsides to machines, as it forces you to use only the arc of movement that the movement provides, and doesn't always take into account individual body differences.

    But really depends on your purpose for training. As heavy as you can manage, free weights have great benefits for the reasons you listed for sure.
     
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  2. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Green Belt

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    There is a lot of strong belief on the subject but not a lot of good research that I've seen. I used to be a strict free weights only guy but now I'm a big proponent of machines. Having looked at the research on the subject and experimented on myself and others I've come to the opinion that machines can be better than free weights in the right circumstances. So, assuming the right equipment and a good protocol I'd absolutely choose heavier weight on a machine over lighter weight with free weights. This is especially true if I was training someone who was either at greater than average risk of injury for some reason, who was already injured, or who had poor coordination.

    That being said, the context and the goals really matter. If your goal is to be competitive in Olympic weightlifting as a sport then you absolutely need to do a lot of training with those lifts and you may get little to no benefit or even inhibit your performance by supplementing with machine weights. Not because machines are bad but because we've all got a limited amount of work that we're capable of doing and if you're a serious competitor you're probably already close to the limit without adding anything else. Similarly I'd choose free weights over most home gym quality machines and even over a good number of (supposedly) commercial gym quality machines. Plus free weights are flexible. If you've got a barbell, weight plates and maybe a bench you can work pretty much everything. You need a minimum of say 3 big heavy machines to really even get started. Still, with a good selection of the right machines I believe that most people can get stronger faster and more safely than they can with free weights.

    I think a lot of the belief that free weights are better stems from confusing skill acquisition with strength gains. Lifting weights takes a fair amount of skill to do efficiently and free weights take a lot more skill than machines and the skills don't transfer, only the strength gains do. So if you just do machine weights and then try to do the same kinds of lifts with free weights it seems like you're a lot weaker than your buddy who's been doing nothing but free weights. Then BAM, because you've already developed a lot strength from the machines, as soon as you become proficient with free weights it looks like they're making you strong super fast when in fact you've just learned how to apply the strength you'd already developed.

    I've got more to say on this and I just spat this out without proof reading it so I hope it's clear enough because I have to run! I'll try to clarify anything that doesn't make sense when I have the chance. The last thing I'll say is that I'm not dogmatic about the issue. I think most any form of resistance training is beneficial and while of course I think what I do is best for me or I wouldn't be doing it, that doesn't mean there aren't a lot of other really good ways to train.
     
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  3. JR 137

    JR 137 Grandmaster

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    I haven’t looked into meal plan stuff in quite some time, so I don’t really know where to look. It’s not that complex though. Minimize junk like processed stuff, empty calorie snacks and the like; and don’t overdo the number of calories regardless of what you’re eating. There’s plenty of calorie requirement calculators online. Most seem to be close enough to each other.

    What you drink is just as important in a sense. A lot of empty calories and sugar come from beverages like soda and alcohol. You could have an impeccable diet and throw it all away with a few sodas or beers everyday.

    My diet sucks too. I’ve got to get back on track with it. When I was paying attention to it, I felt so much better. Even when I wasn’t trying to lose weight.
     
  4. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    Very well said!

    And I train at home, got a barbells, dumbbells, plates and a bench, and they've lasted for probably more than 15 years so far. So versatile, there's so much I can do, and ways I can work around injuries easily. Still have a machine (that I got new really cheap), but rarely use it (it actually is busted at the moment haha).
     
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  5. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    What distracted me to say I am not as far from 80 as @skribs, I don't know. I meant to say I was closer to 80 than he. I don't recall his age but I know mine well. I am certain I am much closer to 80 than he is, and in fact, closer than most here at MT. Sorry @skribs, I wasn't trying to hurry your aging. :)
     
  6. skribs

    skribs Grandmaster

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    Back in my day, I'd have told you to get off my lawn!
     
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  7. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Um, you had it right. "Closer to 80" and "not as far from 80" is the same thing. :p
     
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  8. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    By using machine, you can only develop "muscle group isolation". You can't develop "body unification - the whole body function as one unit".

    For example, if I want to develop arms twisting power (used in the wrestling),

    [​IMG]

    the only machine that I can find in the gym is this. Every time I twist this machine in the gym with my arms, people look at me as if I came from another planet.

    IMO, there exist not even a single machine in the gym that's designed for arms twisting power development.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
  9. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Could you not accomplish the same motion/action with an unweighted barbell? They are about 45lbs without weights.
    It does not have to look like a duck to walk like a duck.
     
  10. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    To coordinate one arm push and one arm pull, barbell is not suitable for that purpose.

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Green Belt

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    So, I don't disagree, but I have a different perspective on what I'm trying to accomplish with my strength training. I want to get stronger overall and in a generalized way that I can apply broadly to all physical activities when I lift weights. I want to develop "body unification", which I would categorize as a type of skill acquisition, at my martial arts school (or dance class, or whatever).

    I agree that I don't have any machines in my gym that allow me to do the movement shown in that picture but I do have machines that will allow me to train the biceps, triceps, lats, delts, traps, rhomboids, pecs, ESG's, quads, glutes, hamstrings, etc., etc. and all the other muscles used to perform that motion. If I've strengthened them through using machines they are stronger and the muscles don't know whether they got stronger from using a machine or from rolling a large heavy jar or from something else. I've never trained any Shuai Chiao practitioners but I have trained a number of BJJ players using machine weights exclusively (most of whom had been using free weights previously) and every one of them said that it got a lot easier to submit people after they started working out with me so I know that machine weight training can benefit wrestlers.

    I'm not criticizing the exercise in the picture. I think it looks like it's probably a really good workout if you have that piece of equipment available to you. I would be happy to experiment with it and see how the results compared to what I'm already doing. I just believe that you can get most, probably all, of the strength benefits from a well designed workout on machines. The machines might not be quite as efficient for developing very specialized strength improvements for stand up wrestling and the machines definitely won't do anything for teaching you wrestling skill but there is nothing to keep you from supplementing one with the other to meet your needs. The main thing is to do resistance training that works for you and that you want to keep doing.
     
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  12. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    A 55 gallon drum of oil (or most anything liquid) weighs close to 400lbs. I imagine you could get that workout at almost any loading dock and make a little money.:)
    Plastic 55 gallon drums are readily available and you could add as much water weight as you wanted to.

    I do agree with @MetalBoar , that you could accomplish the same muscle strength with free weights. There is a cable machine (I forget name) with individual cables for each hand that would definitely accomplish the same workout.
     
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  13. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    I used this before.

    [​IMG]
    After I broke it, I switched to this. I can add water to control the weight.

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    I agree it can be done this way. It's just 2 steps process.

    Step 1 - develop muscle group isolation.
    Step 2 - develop body unification.

    The rope training is similar to body unification training.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2020
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  15. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Green Belt

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    Yes, exactly! It does become a 2 step process.

    There are pros and cons to that depending on how an individual learns and what they have for goals. I've found that when I split them apart that each step becomes easier, at least if strength training (in isolation) is step 1 because it gives people a foundation to work from. As a strength trainer a lot of my clients' goals are as simple as wanting to be able to pick up and hold their grand kids or carry their luggage for their travel job without it being so hard and for that there's no need to go passed step 1. For my clients that have loftier goals they often tell me that once they've achieved some significant improvement in their overall strength through machine training that they find it much easier to do the drills that they need for step 2 in their MA classes or wherever. I've worked with a number of people for whom just doing machine based training was a serious challenge for their coordination and I doubt they could effectively do, or at least start, with something like battle ropes or the barrel twisting. People learn differently and I'm sure there are some people who are going to "get it" much faster taking the combined approach and get faster results with those exercises that are more tailored towards a specific activity.

    For me the big benefit to machine training is that I can do an extremely intense, very effective workout focused exclusively on muscular development in a very short time that I don't have to do very often and I can see continuous improvements that are easy to track and measure. Then I still have time to do my martial arts training as well even when I'm working a full time job and training people on the side in my gym. If I'm doing a lot of resistance training in my MA I can reduce the frequency of my gym workouts, if my MA training is focused on skill development and isn't physically taxing I can ramp things up in the gym.
     
  16. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    I agree that machine weight training is much safer than the free weight training. By using free weight, if one is not careful, he may hurt himself big time.

    I have a big rock (about 230 lb) that I used to move around from one side of my drive way to the other side of my drive way everyday for 3 months. During my last tournament, I knew I was the strongest person in that tournament. Today, I'm afraid to pick it up since my wife got her bulging disk during wrestling.
     
  17. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Yep, that looks like a plastic 55 gallon drum.
     
  18. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    What I like about this weight training is I can also train "stealing step" footwork. I have to use gloves because the edge.

    [​IMG]
     
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  19. _Simon_

    _Simon_ Senior Master

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    @gpseymour has big buckets'o water about now, can use those!
     
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  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Just bought two more, too. Expanding my fitness equipment. :D123
     
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