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Upper Body...

does two things. Pushes and pulls. It can pull down, pull in, or pull up; it can push down, push out, or push up. There's a necessary symmetry to it all: an arms-up push and pull; an arms-out push and pull; an arms-down push and pull.

In terms of exercise we have this: Arms up -- overhead press, and chinups. Arms out -- pushups, and rows. Arms down -- dips, and highpulls.

That's it. That's as complicated as it needs to be. Simpler? Of course. The arms-down and arms-out pushes -- dips and pushups (or benchpress) -- cover a lot of the same musculature. Do one or the other. Alternate. Whatever. Same with the arms-up and arms-out pulls -- chins and rows -- a fair bit of redundancy. The unique push is overhead, and the unique pull is from below. They're more shoulders than arms or chest or back, for purposes of this discussion. Traps and delts. Seems like that would make them more important, not less. But you never would see the dudes in the gym doing them in a meaningful way. It's all about the benchpress and the curls -- cuz pecs and guns is what it's about, dude. The chicks dig 'em.

The point is functionality. If you do a natural and full range of functional movements, you'll develop proportionally. If not, not. Aside from the asthetics of it all, there's the functionality. Bodybuilding and the gym mentality of muscle isolation has done more damage to actual athleticism than, than ... well, than television has. Television and twinkies. And heroin. And global warming. It's a fact. Because unequal development, disproportional development, leads to injury. So that manly chest grafted onto the front of that delicately feminine back -- its benefits are purely superficial and short-term. And it looks kind of freaky, to an informed eye. Michaelangelo would cringe.

Ah well. Here's an application workout of what we've talked about. As many sets as possible in 20 minutes of:

5 ringdips &  5 highpulls (95 lbs)
10 OH presses (95) &  10 chinups
15 pushups &  15 ring-rows

Ring-rows -- just a reverse pushup, lying on your back under the rings. How long will all that take? Twenty minutes, weren't you listening? The question is, how many sets in that time. Well that's a question the answer to which depends entirely on you.  Just bear in mind that it's not about upper body.  It's about body.  And mind and spirit.  But you have to start somewhere.

Be excellent.


CrossFit Burbank
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