Barbell Shrugged

99 Problems But Pull-Ups Ain't One – Barbell Shrugged #208

Doug Larson

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  • Guys, what happened to principles? Principles are what made me a religious devotee of BBS. Recent episodes leave me confused. All this talk about methods(often conflicting) without definitive resolve ends up broadening the subject matter and diluting the information given. Someone needs to step up and be the Doug. Keep the show on track, make a point, explore the point, repeat, then review. This show has regressed into gym chatter.
    I miss the sustenance of the Why. “How to get stronger at them….How often to train them…We cover it ALL.” This is the problem. With only 30 min, this is too much to cover anything in depth. If you quizzed someone after this episode how do you think they’d do? What did they learn? McG’s comment on grip strength warrants an entire episode. What are the different types of grip as they apply to fitness? Does pinch strength translate to pull-ups? I would argue not, but let’s at least explore the subject.
    That being said, I hope it wasn’t too harsh; I still watch the show and appreciate the new personalities. I think theres a lot of potential still untapped. With a bit of organization and well researched subject matter this show could be the highlight of my week again.
    My final point is Don’t be afraid to say something controversial and defend it. You guys are too knowledgeable to be speaking in probably’s and maybe’s. Please, tell me why I’m weak and why I’ve plateaued. My feelings and your viewer’s feelings will be okay.

  • Hey Barrett,
    I really appreciate the constructive feedback. It’s not often we have someone share their opinions and their points without being hateful or disrespectful. So thanks.
    I see your point, and it all makes a lot of sense. But a few things to keep in mind is our audience is coming from a lot of different training backgrounds/experience. I can’t always control what a listener might know. So if some things seem extremely obvious to you, that may not be the case for someone else.
    Which brings me to the point of this episode. Our purpose was to explore the many different options you might have in “training pull-ups”. I could see this show broken down into 6 other sub shows. But for the sake of time (we’re a weekly podcasts and this is a free show) and only having about a half an hour, this is as in depth as we could go during this week. I completely agree that we could (and should!) have an entire episode on grip strength/training.
    As for all of us coming to a definitive resolution, we’re not always after that. I believe our conflicting views shows that we don’t always agree with how to do something and brings more awareness and open-mindedness to training topics.
    Again, we’re not always after agreement on the details of the material, but instead alignment on what the message is for each show. Taking that into consideration along with keeping balance between content, discussion, and conversation. For 30-40 minutes a week, that is a LOT to keep in mind.
    But, I do agree that some of the subjects could be more specific. I hate not feeling like the listener took something away from the show. And I don’t just mean insight, I mean a good idea on something they can go and apply immediately.
    Thanks again for the message. Let’s keep this conversation going.

  • And I thank you for the response. I don’t like being the critic because it is too easy to rip apart someone’s hard work from the safety of a computer screen. Often there are factors that are unbeknownst to the consumer and it is near impossible to see the other perspective. It seems as though there has been a shift in the former model of BBS. Shorter episodes without guests, operating as a teaser for Overtime, because everything can’t be free all of the time. Perhaps I’ve made the mistake of comparing the new podcast to the old.
    I completely agree with your point about the wide spectrum of knowledge/experience around training. To me, it seems that the former podcast dealt with this by assuming a base level of knowledge and always referring back to key principles in case the information is approaching a level of technicality reserved for those in Phd programs. This allows the listener to fall back on principles if they get lost on the methods. Was it Emerson who said “A man of methods would have many troubles, but a man of principles would have few”?
    I, too, appreciate the conflicting views. I believe this is where the insight is garnered as well as a better understanding of the material. I like the quote, “You can’t understand anything until you have learned it more ways than one”? My comment about definitive resolve was to reach an agreement on principles, because, after all, there are more ways than one to get to where you want to go, but let’s at least agree on where that is. Then we can debate on which is faster, more effective, etc. This establishes a clear direction.
    It is a LOT to keep in mind when the subject is so broad(the diet episode comes to mind). I think this is where conciseness of subject matter could really help you guys say what you want to say in the shorter amount of time. It benefits the listener by learning more than the basics as well as leaving the podcast with good rules of thumb, new techniques to try, or new ways to think about training all while having the context of a well explored subject matter to go along with it. I believe this is an intended goal, however, I think it may have been overlooked in recent episodes in pursuit of a more conversational feel.
    A grip episode would be righteous. If McG had a campus board, the garage would be complete.
    Thanks again for all the hard work you do.

    • Hey Jessica,
      I would first narrow down to make sure that it is in fact a mobility issue of the shoulders or upper back.
      There are numerous ways to screen for that, but one of the best ways is to sit with your back flat against a wall, with your legs crossed. Keep your ribs down, arms directly out in front of you with thumbs up and elbows straight, try to raise your arms up and overhead toward the wall. If you feel like your ribs are trying to flare up and/or your elbows have to bend to get your arms to the wall you likely have a mobility issue.
      I would also check your thoracic (upperback) mobility and hip extension. Laying face down on the ground, bring your feet together and point your toes. From here, while trying to keep your hips flat on the ground, press your chest up and off the floor and see if you can get your elbows locked. You’re looking for locked elbows with hips still on the ground, and a long consistent curve throughout the spine. If you have trouble with this, you might have hip extension or upper back mobility issues. The hip extension would limit you in your “extension” portion of the pull-ups and toes to bar by making you excessively bend the lower back and bend the elbows.
      If some of these are in fact an issue, things like t-spine extensions over a foam roller, and any shoulder flexion mobility exercise will work.
      Simple t-spine extension exercise:
      Bow and Arrow Stretch:
      Give these a shot and let me know if you have any questions.

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