Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Guest Rant

This may come as a surprise to some of you but I have to let the cat out of the bag...

Many of your favorite internet training gurus don't train anyone. When I say anyone, I don't mean they train 5-10 people which really equates to no one. I mean they literally train absolutely no one, not a single solitary soul.

Unfortunately for a lot of you, there is no way of actually knowing that. Being in the position I am in, I know who actually trains people (or has trained people) and who doesn't (or hasn't). For that reason there are only a few people who I look to for advice or am interested in what they are doing with their athletes or clients. One of the few people that really piques my interest when he writes something about training is my buddy Joe DeFranco. That is because I know for a fact that Joe has spent the last several years in the trenches working with hundreds of athletes. When Joe writes about training he only presents info that is time and battle tested with hundreds of clients, not just some crap he made up to impress people. While we may sometimes disagree on very small points here or there, Joe always has my utmost respect when it comes to delivering training information because he has spent his time in the trenches where it counts.

Below is a rant Joe posted on his site recently that I thought you would like.

For the past 5 years, I’ve been in my own little world – I’ve been totally engrossed in training my athletes and growing my business. I haven’t spent too much time worrying about what goes on in the “fitness industry”. But, for some reason, I spent a little extra time “surfing the web” this past week and I must say that certain things disgusted me! Because of this, I need to get some stuff off my chest! Here we go…

The term “functional training”
I’ve talked about this one before, but it just won’t go away! For some reason, trainers that favor exercises that are performed on stability balls or wobble boards call themselves “functional” trainers. “Functional” trainers also favor light band resistance and med balls instead of heavy barbells and dumbbells. Somehow they have come up with the notion that kneeling on a stability ball while having a pass with a light medicine ball is more “functional” than squatting, dragging a sled, bench-pressing, rowing, strongman training, etc. You don’t need to be a “fitness professional” to realize how illogical this type of thinking is.

“Functional” trainers are the types of trainers that will say a bench press isn’t functional for athletes because athletes never lie on their backs on the athletic field and push a barbell off their chest. But, can someone please explain to me what sport requires an athlete to kneel or stand on a giant beach ball or wobble board? Aren’t most sports played on the fuc#ing ground!? In all of sports, it is the athlete that moves while the playing surface remains still. True “functional” training should consist of applying resistance to an athlete while his/her feet are in contact with the ground. The athlete must then adapt to these forces. This is how true strength is built.

If you’re always performing exercises on “unstable” devices, you will be limited in the amount of weight you can use. This, in turn, will prevent you from overloading the prime movers of the exercise, which will limit how strong you can get.
Bottom line – stability balls and wobble boards are training tools that can be used occasionally in the training of athletes. If they are the centerpiece of your program, my athletes will continue to kick your athlete’s asses!

Internet “trolls”
Internet “trolls” are people who hide behind their computer, make up fake names for themselves and criticize others. Oh yeah, these same people usually have horrible physiques and below average strength – and they’ve never trained an athlete in their life! Yet, they seem to know it all when they’re in the comfort of their home…or should I say the comfort of their parent’s basement! You know the types – these are the people who comment on squat videos because an athlete may have squatted slightly above parallel; or they critique an athlete for performing trap bar deadlifts because “real men do straight bar deads”…blah, blah, blah. The irony of the internet “troll” is that they sit behind their computer and critique people who are actually in the gym training!! Get off the friggin’ computer and go to the gym! You know who you are.

The supplement industry
The supplement industry sucks. There, I said it. The reason I say this is because the best supplements I’ve ever used, you’ve probably never heard of! Wanna know why? Because good supplement companies spend most of their money on RESEARCH - not marketing! The best supplements usually aren’t found on the pages of bodybuilding magazines or on the shelves of popular health food stores. Unfortunately, shelf space is reserved for the companies that are spending big bucks on misleading marketing campaigns. These “mainstream” supplement companies target their advertising towards na├»ve high school kids. Here’s a good rule of thumb when shopping for supplements – if a product sounds too good to be true… it IS too good to be true. Generally speaking, the more a product is marketed, the more it sucks.

If I sound bitter towards the supplement industry; it’s because I AM bitter!

Authors posing as strength coaches
If someone writes a dozen articles a month on training, they’re not a strength coach – they’re an author. There’s a big difference. If I’m an athlete, I want to be trained by a strength coach that spends most of his day in the gym -- not an author that spends most of his day behind the computer. After you’ve trained athletes for at least 12-15 years, you can start writing more than training. Until that time, get your ass in the gym and train so you will have something real to write about!

Coaches that down-play strength
It seems as if many coaches have recently started down-playing the role of strength training for athletes. These coaches will say that “athletes only need a certain level of strength -- once optimal strength is achieved, future strength gains may be counter-productive to their sport.” Guess what? I agree with that statement! BUT, how many athletes have walked into your weight room possessing optimal strength? I can tell you in my 10 years of experience, two athletes have joined my program that were “strong enough.”

The moral of the story is the majority of athletes that you’re going to train are weak! Get them stronger and everything else they do will become easier.

Training debates
When I was in school, nerds were on the debate team. Apparently, those nerds are now in the strength & conditioning field. I’m going to let you in on a little secret -- Debating never changes anyone’s mind, regardless of the topic! If you put a hardcore Republican and a hardcore Democrat in a room for a debate, do you really think that one of them would be able to convert the other? Of course not!! The same holds true in the strength & conditioning field. For example, if you put an Olympic weightlifting coach in the same room with a powerlifter, neither one of them are going to change each other’s mind! Do you think if Louie Simmons had to attend a H.I.T seminar, he would leave with a new outlook on strength training?! Hopefully you get my point? Save yourself valuable time and energy by surrounding yourself with “like-minded” people and learn/exchange ideas with them.

Ahhhh, I feel better after that little rant. Now that I got that off of my chest, let’s focus on something that doesn’t piss me off…hard-working athletes that bust their ass in order to achieve their goals! No gimmicks, no internet trash-talking – just setting a goal and then doing whatever it takes to accomplish it!
Joe D.
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