Meta-book-review: The Sisson and the Barbell Strategy

From The Archives - I’m going back through the old blog and reposting some of the best articles.

A long time ago, before the gym even existed, we wrote a post explaining why we chose the name Barbell Strategy. It all boils down to our philosophy that you need to spend most of your time on the low (and I mean low) intensity base-building work with punctuated excursions into short, heavy, high intensity work. We don't really want to spend much time doing the moderately heavy, moderate volume work (à la CrossFit).

Last week I read a book review of Primal Endurance, written by The Sisson. I'm not cool enough to have received an advance copy of the book to do my own review (though I do buy the mayonnaise that's expensive enough that it has to be made with Mark Sisson's tears), so I'm doing a meta review of the book review. First, go read the original book review here.

You'll notice that the strategy that Sisson promotes is the Barbell Strategy, the same approach we take: accumulate lots of very low intensity base-building work with punctuated heavy work. Or as I like to say: Walk, Lift, Sprint (with the importance in that order). The key really is avoiding that chronic cardio where you're going hard enough to stress your body, but not hard enough to really make a change - it actually makes you sicker. This is where you get burned out and you don't want to face yet another WOD.

So where's all my long, low slow volume work? Other than our long Saturday rows, we don't really have anything specific programmed. But I have talked to some of you about doing this work on your own. I know some of you go jogging, some do yoga (maybe not my favorite), some go on long hikes with their dogs, and I like to do long walks on the weekend. In a normal hour-long S&C class, we don't really have the time for you to get the long, low volume in one of our classes; that's really extra credit you need to do.

If you're having trouble fitting the volume work into your life, I'm more than happy to give you extra work that you can do in the gym during our individualized programming hours. Work like this would look like fight-gone-bad-style work but very slow, non-stressful, and non-nauseating. I like to refer to this work as the bulletproofing work. Here's where you get your heart strong, get your biochemistry adapted, get your connective tissue stronger, even get more mobile. If you're looking to lose weight, get fitter, prepare for a 14er, adventure race, or even the Bolder Boulder, make sure you're getting your low-intensity volume in. Our S&C classes will take care of the strength, skill, and speed development that will build on your volume. (And make sure you are getting the intensity in the classes - those thrusters on Monday should have been really hard.)

It may be confirmation bias, but we're thrilled to see that Mark Sisson agrees with us. Now we just need to find a way to get an audience as big as he has...

Update: this really is just the A+A work we do. We’ve evolved our approach a little, but it is grounded in this kind of theory.

Michael Deskevich