SIMPLE yet SO HARD

Training in today’s world

By Sunir Jossan M.S.

Certified Strength Professional!

Train, Rest, Eat… Grow stronger …Train, Rest, Eat. Lift a little more .. Grow Stronger. Wash, rinse and repeat. Over and over … Simple — yet we have made it so complex.

In today’s world of training it seems we have strayed due south away from the simplicity, and added multiplicity and complexity. Programs have added balls and bands and ropes and chains and odd shaped weights and boxes and wobble boards, and on and on and on. (If you walk into your garage at home, I bet you could find something that could pass as the next latest and greatest exercise tool).

Variety is the spice of life and it has inundated the strength field. The days of structure and simple training protocols are a thing of the past. Practical and productive training has taken a backseat to movement based exercise and skill demonstrations. Evidence based programs are getting thrown aside because athletes demand the newest vogue exercise, even if it’s un-safe or un-productive. And it seems there may be no end in sight. I am not sure if we have ever seen the fitness and training industry in such bad shape. What happened to the good-ole days of hard productive training without all the nonsense and gadgets? Are those days a thing of the past forever?

Research shows us that intensity is what matters in training when trying to make gains in the weight room. Not reps, not sets, and not even weight ….Intensity, pure and simple. But look around today. People add volume and sets and exercises to their workout, essentially decreasing intensity and compromising what really makes us grow. They train fast and explosive because they believe it will make them faster or more powerful athletically or because it’s just plain easier to throw a weight than to lift it properly. Problem is that the research shows the opposite. Training fast in the weight room has no relation to speed on the field or greater athletic ability. If anything it’s a recipe for disaster and leads to a greater risk of injury. Moving an object faster in the weight room increases overall force production, but decreases muscular torque or force and increases dangerous compression force. Increased compression force leads to injuries, plain and simple.

So why have we strayed so far from the yesterday’s of productive training? In the past, training with weights was not as main stream as it is today. The inevitable growth to the masses of training has killed the quality. Experts have become a dime a dozen, with very little understanding of what proper exercise is all about. Certifications run rampant, and require very little if any true coursework. The health club industry feeds off of the next greatest thing, because in the end it’s all about getting more members thru the door, not about producing results. The general public does not know any better, and the clubs promote the vast array of “certified” experts and then charge more money to make the member feel like they are working with someone special. It all slowly filters down and has corrupted athletics and the strength training field. Athletes are always looking for the competitive edge. These so called fitness experts thrive on that, and push their magic formulas and agenda. Athletes buy into it because so many others are doing it, and because it’s new and challenging. No science or peer reviewed research to back the claims, but who reads or worries about that stuff anyway.

For those of us who understand productive exercise and formulate our training methods on peer reviewed articles and studies, this is a trying time. Sure there has always been alternate methods or styles, but never has training gotten so crazy! I’ve dubbed it the ” circus. ” The boxes, the platforms, the bright colored balls large and small. The ropes, the chains, and the “seal-like” movements that resemble nothing in the way of proper exercise form.”Performers” believe that if what they are doing is hard, and if they are sweating, it must be productive. Day in and day out, until they get bored, injured, or move on to the next greatest thing. If they just added sensible training with progression, they would set the stage for results to follow.

But all this stuff cannot be that simple, it just has to be complex. It is human nature to make exercise easier, not harder. And the exercise and fitness industry has adopted that mentality. Look around entertainment has become the norm, not productive exercise.

Those of us that understand proper training, are getting drowned out by masses and the new specialized training guru’s. We are slowly becoming the minority who actually still believe in progressive exercise. Many very good trainers have fallen prey to the “circus” train as it continues to roll picking up steam. It is hard to take a stand, draw the line in the sand, and continue to push evidence based training. Sometimes you feel like your are alone , one man on an island. It seems to never end, and it looks like things will most likely get worse before they get better.

For those of us still standing, take solace in knowing that there are others searching for better training methods and a more efficient workouts. Training with a high intensity, with controlled repetitions, in a progressive model is not archaic or obsolete. It may not be vogue, but it’s safe, productive and it works. In fact, show me a safer training protocol and I will be the first to promote it. Training in a high intensity model is not fun. It is not complex nor entertaining. It requires dedication, and it’s pure work. It builds mental and physical toughness. It’s evidence based, not pseudo – science. It does not require elaborate tools or devices. It requires commitment and a high level of effort. No gimmicks, just plain work.

It really is simple stuff yet we’ve made it so complex.

 TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to Sunir Jossan for this weeks awesome article. If you are in the Virginia area track him down for some training. Be sure to visit his web-site by clicking on his name at the top of this article.

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