One thing that confuses me about the competitive fitness scene is exercise selection.
Athletes and coaches are doing an amazing job of assimilating diverse training methods into new, core programming philosophies. For the first time we are seeing VERY strong athletes who are also VERY fit, armed with a wide-range of well developed skill sets.
That’s amazing. However, there is a fundamental bias that’s baked right into this new breed of fitness programming. Because so much must be trained you have to prioritize your efforts and resource. Most programs place a premium on movements that yield maximum function and training effect, which is great. But this is not all there is.
Movements that just target a body part for mass and strength are typically judged to be inferior and less useful. Anything that would be common to bodybuilding training is taboo. This is a shame. Athletes and coaches are missing out on a gold-mine of value built during a century of experimentation that crosses over all of the barbell sports.
There are some exercises that almost all strong people do, regardless of the sport. The bent-row is a great example. If you want to improve your deadlift, clean, squat, bench press, you name it, then you need to make your back very strong. You need to be able to pull heavy loads towards your body as you maintain proper pulling position.
As one of my very first strength coach told me years ago, “A man’s strength is measured in his back.” If you want to make the most of your strength, make sure you’re comfortable pulling heavy loads. Work some of these varieties into your programming as assistance work. I think you’ll enjoy the training effect.