Bi-Polar Strength Training
More Diesel Style Training – Bi-Polar Training
As you know, generating Strength involves the production of Tension systematically to overcome an object’s weight, inertia, etc.
For instance, in order to pinch lift two 35’s (shown above) , you must position your hand properly, apply tension correctly, and be able to generate enough tension/strength to lift the plates from the ground (while simultaneously keeping them pinched together).
One technique that helps to generate more strength is by squeezing the hands. Pavel Tsatsouline, originator of the RKC Certification, talks about this concept, calling it irradiation. In an article by him he points out that performance on bodyweight dips can be improved by squeezing the dip bars, exciting more musculature and generating more strength and tension.
If you have read The Bending eBook or the Card Tearing eBook, you’ll see that I call this same concept Radiant Tension. I point out that squeeze the bar you are bending or the cards you are ripping, you can literally feel the level of tension and strength you produce radiating and almost pulsating through the upper body.
Here’s another example…Think of curling a dumbbell with a grip on the handle only hard enough to keep the dumbbell from falling out of your hand. You will see right away that you can probably curl it, but it just doesn’t feel right. You don’t have a solid command over what the dumbbell does.
However, if you squeeze the dumbbell handle tightly, you are able to make your entire arm work more efficiently and you can perform curls with better form, move the dumbbell more quickly, and most likely perform more repetitions per set.
This concept works for many lifts, even those not involving the hands – try it with sit-ups – by squeezing the hands or crushing a light gripper, you WILL feel the Radiant Tension move through your body.
Now, Pavel also points out that if you squeeze the dip bars too hard, you can cause a disruption in the way you apply force. He causes this a shift in the dominata, or the primary focus of strength. He points out that if you are doing dips and put a strangle hold on the bar, you will make it more difficult to accomplish the primary goal of doing Dips.
As another example, think of performing Bent Over Rows. Squeeze too light with the hands and your form is off. Squeeze too hard and you will upset the coordination of strength it takes perform the row. Squeeze just right and you can bang off lots of good reps and improve your results.
So, in essence having stronger hands will help you in other lifts in the weight room and in your sport. However, you’ve got to go about it in the right way. Squeeze too hard and you make things worse.
Applying Radiant Tension is a skill that needs to be learned! So how can you improve your ability to apply Radiant Tension???
Bi-Polar Strength Training
One of the things that we do at Diesel is called Bi-Polar Strength Training. Bi-Polar Strength Training involves doing two completely different things with each of your hands, or the opposite parts of the body.
I covered this type of training last month on the Grip Authority in the Workout of the Month. This kind of training is very intense, in fact I was completely wiped out after shooting the footage for that installment.
To give you an example of Bi-Polar Strength Training, check out the video below. In it, I lift the 50-lb Blob in one hand and then perform Kettlebell Snatches in the other hand.
Now, for me, both of these lifts have become pretty easy since I have been working on them for several years. I can Hold the 50-lb for +/- 20 seconds, and I can snatch a Kettlebell like a freakin maniac (just kidding).
However, when combining these two lifts, it becomes much more difficult for me to perform them. As you will see in the video, I can only really get one or two good snatches in before having to drop the Blob.
Using the word Intensity as a form of 1RM, I would consider the combination of the Blob and the KB Snatch a “High Intensity” combination. That is to say that this is near my 100% capabilities for these two skills.
With practice, I am sure I could improve my performance and be able to perform multiple snatch reps and a longer hold, but for now, this is really all of the coordinated tension I can produce for this technical of a combination.
Another reason this is tough is because the Kettlebell Snatch is so dynamic. Snatching the Kettlebell creates quite a bit of shock throughout the body which makes it much tougher to hold onto the Blob.
In other words, Snatching a Kettlebell requires a great deal of mental focus to be put on that aspect (i.e. one dominata).
Also, because it takes so much concentration to Pinch the Blob and maintain the hold, it also requires a great deal of focused to be put on that aspect (another dominata) as well. Even though I can lift the Blob any time I want provided I am chalked up, I still have to squeeze very hard. I don’t just lay my hand on it and it comes up. I have to dig in and compress hard – hard enough to distract my focus on the Kettlebell.
What does all of this do for me?
I use this form of training to train myself to squeeze as hard as I can on the Blob. For instance, I need to be able to grab onto a Blob or another similar Block Weight and lift it instantly in a Grip Contest, especially in Medley events. To improve this instantaneous pinching ability, I load up both “POLES” of my body (POLE 1, the right hand, POLE 2, the left hand).
Doing this sort of training for years, I feel, has been very beneficial for me in being able to lift the Blob any time it is required.
I also think that with time if I pinched a lighter weight in my off-hand, I could eventually improve my Snatch Test performance.
What can all of this do for you?
Bi-Polar Strength Training will help you to be able to generate strength more efficiently. It will help you develop your ability to generate Radiant Tension, a.k.a. irradiation. Think about it this way…
Distraction from the dominata may indeed hurt your performance in one particular lift. As Pavel said, if you squeeze the Dip bars too tightly, you will make the Dip more difficult. In other words, you have to learn how to apply Radiant Tension correctly. IT IS A SKILL!
And while distraction from the dominata in one particular lift can hurt performance, by employing Bi-Polar Training on a regular basis, you will eventually know your body better and develop the skill of managing Radiant Tension. With Bi-Polar Strength Training, you make one lift more difficult, but the challenge and experience you gain will help you in other lifts when you optimize your tension.
Other Bi-Polar Training Examples
Many people reading this do not lift Blobs. That is fine, but that is not to say that you can not get the benefit of this type of training. Bi-Polar Training can be done in endless variations, and here are a few examples…
Deadlift / Hold + Press: Pick up and hold a Dumbbell in one hand, and Press another in the off hand
Row + Fly: Bent over row a dumbbell in one hand (hold at top of rep), and perform unilateral Flyes with the other hand
Retraction + Press: Retract shoulder against band resistance, and perform a DB Flat Bench Press in the other hand
I am sure if you play around with this, and think about it for a little while, you will be able to come up with MANY more variations. Wait until you feel the level of contraction you get when doing this – it’s a very interesting feeling.
Give Bi-Polar Training a try and come back here to report. I’d like to hear what you think.
All the best in your training.
P.S. I have submitted an article to Dragondoor discussing methods for further optimizing Radiant Tension for Kettlebell Performance, and I will let you know when it gets posted.
“I’ll tell ya, one set fries the glutes, hamstrings and gastrocs. This is a great exercise to bulletproof the hamstrings. I will send you a even harder version incorporating ladder sets.”
Look for a cool guest post from Nick soon showing some of the other stuff he has used by employing Full Body Tension training in his routine.