So, we were in the BRC last night working out, even though it took over an hour to motivate ourselves to get dressed and go. A, we were tired from a week of hard work. B, it was really cold out. C, it was the first Friday night of the month, so people either were here from gym trade or paid $8 to boulder for the night. (It’s really busy Friday nights) Nevertheless, we found ourselves in the weight room first.
We did a great back and chest workout. It was probably our most extensive workout in five to six months. Many exercises, many sets, many reps, great form, great pumps, no injuries or serious pain, and a wide variety of muscles hit. We often did super-sets alternating from chest to back exercises, a technique that can stretch out your opposing muscle fibers in order to make greater gains while you lift for the opposite. While we were doing decline bench press, some little guy who came in the weight room with a girl he was trying to impress did one exercise but made one stupid comment. First, I’m not being mean saying little guy.
Regular chest press
He was an older man (30s or 40s) a shorter man (5’5′) and a lighter man (100 lbs) but he was wearing some SERIOUS climbing gear and most likely had some great strength to weight ratio. That happens with a lot of smaller guys, they can handle their body weight very well, which is something everyone should aim for as a goal. At the same time, I don’t think it’s a smart idea to limit your body’s growth by trying to stay small, because you could be sacrificing overall power, whether it be great strength, speed, or explosiveness. Picture this, he can do 100 pull-ups with his body weight but what would happen if he ran into a coyote up on the foothills? He’s dinner. But back to what actually happened (I have nothing against smaller people!)
Second, at some point while showing her how to do an upper-body elevated push up on gymnastic rings, (again, while we were doing decline bench) he said, very loudly and out of the blue, something along the lines of… “by doing this, we’re actually building/using practical pectoral/chest muscles.” Practical pectoral muscles… doing elevated ring push ups… Really? I am a very protective and defensive person, and I generally hate know-it-all people, even if they have a basis for their claims. More so, I hate those people that will smack talk everywhere and anytime except to someone’s face. (This guy’s aura made him seem like one of these people.) Was he trying to make himself look bigger in front of his lady-friend by putting us down? Tisk tisk. Let’s look at what would have happened if we discussed his comments face to face, because he obviously meant for us to hear it, little did he know that we know more about this stuff than he does.
There are two major muscle groups in the pecs, and although there are a countless number of exercises to work various areas in those groups, and hit every muscle fiber in the process, we were nearly working out the same muscles. His exercise, performed properly, targets the upper chest. (Inner, mid, or outer depends on the width of the rings.) Our exercise targets the lower chest, with the same width principle. By using an Olympic bar, we are not trying to build our stabilizer muscles in our shoulder joint, but by using dumbbells (or to a lesser extent rings) you can strengthen MORE stabilizers. That does not mean that we aren’t also strengthening SOME stabilizers, but throughout our workout we did plenty of work with dumbbells for them. We ALSO did some elevated push ups of our own before he got there, but he didn’t know that… no surprise.
Next, I’d love to figure out what he meant by practical chest muscles, since anatomically he failed already. He must have been talking about how we would use these muscle groups that he doesn’t fully understand in real life, right? So, tell me this because it’s never happened to me. Have you ever needed, in the “real world” outside of a gym, to use gymnastic rings in order to push yourself upwards using your pectoral muscles? I highly doubt it since gymnastic rings aren’t just hanging around everywhere in pubic. From our point of view, have you ever needed to push an object that fell on your chest off of you, whether it be a log, sibling, car, or anything else? Our scenarios might not be totally likely but they are certainly more plausible than that one for the rings, so who is actually working out more practical muscles?
So next time you find yourself in the gym ready to say something stupid, loud enough for everyone to hear, think about it for just a second and ask yourself if you could actually defend yourself. Also, if you’re on the receiving side of some snippy comment, like we were, don’t let it get you down. Never let any bully in the gym make you feel bad for something that you’re doing, unless you’re risking getting hurt and they’re trying to help. (Anyone trying to help wouldn’t bully you, or else they aren’t really trying to help.) Instead, let it motivate you to put up 155 on your last set of the decline for 12 reps after 6 months of not hitting any type of bench press.
Ignore them bullies
Let the haters hate, ignore them, and keep working out because you’re doing a phenomenal job and we love your effort!