Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10 Fallacies of Logic when it Comes to Training Programs

Read any fitness-related forum, and you will see the following fallacies of logic when it comes to program design. It won't be hard to find them either.

1) "I did my current program for 1 month and lost 6 lbs. Now I am not getting results, why do I suck so bad".

The fact of the matter is that the body changes to adapt to the changing demands placed upon it. In the first month, you made a change. Now you lost weight (or gained weight, whatever) to adapt. If you do the same thing, nothing needs to change. That is why your program HAS TO change. You are essentially a new person. You need to create that "overload." More weight, longer duration, less rest, more advanced exercises ==> something has to "overloaded" to force the change. If you are doing the same stuff in your boot camp, don't be surprised when nothing changes. A good boot camp has progression that keep you challenged. If you are still doing the same mind-numbing program on the treadmill....get real?

2) If I want to pass a test, I should train by taking the test over and over. That is the SAID Principle.

The SAID Principle is Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands. This principle is probably the most misunderstood in training. Lets take for example the RKC snatch test. There are a lot of ways to prepare for it, but what SAID is saying is that you get better at what you practice. For example, lets say you get good at swings (hip dominant movement), do you think you will get better at snatches (hip dominant movement)? Of course The mistake a lot of people make is that they practice the 100 snatches before they are ready to do 100 snatches. A lot of the snatches have poor form and they get into bad habits. Or they tear up their hands, and develop bad habits. And for every bad snatch, you have to do 10 good ones to correct the bad one.

Also, with kettlebell presses, a lot of people use different leverage presses and overload presses to develop different parts of the press. How come no one does that with swings. Let's say your goal was to press the 40kg bell. Let's say now you are pressing the 24kg. Would you just pick up the 40kg bell and try to press it?

THEN WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU DO THE SNATCH TEST ALL THE TIME IF YOU CAN'T DO IT. Why not CORRECT your weaknesses instead of INGRAINING them? No hip pop, how about double swings or dead snatches. Casting the bell? How about hang snatches? Jumping your snatches? How about some double snatches. Cutting off your snatches prior to vertical? How about some overhead walks. Building volume without technique is like building a house without a foundation.

I had two people schedule sessions with me to get them to their snatch test numbers. They wanted workout. First thing I did is what them snatch. I gave them corrective exercises. Both passed with flying colors in two weeks.

3) If I combine these programs, I will get the results for both.

This one is partly right, you will usually get the results of the program, but the bad ones. For example if you combine GtG deadlifts, and RoP, and VWC, you will probably get the CNS frying of deadlift, the overtraining of RoP and, the torn hands of VWC. Usually the people that ask this type of assanine question, will ask a similar question after after being on their program/deathmarch for 9 days.

Or you also get this. I am doing this crappy program, and I am not getting results. Can I add Crossfit to this. Now I am not hating on CrossFit, but most people would benefit more by fixing the crap in their programs rather than adding stuff to it.

4) What is the goal of your training?

I will be honest with you, if you have under 18 months of training under your belt, you probably don't need to ask this question. In most cases, a generic program like ETK/RoP or Westside Barbell will work best for you. The reason I am not all type-A on goal setting for newbies is that most newbies have general, rather than specific, conditioning needs. Because of this, a generic program will usually serve the needs very well and put the trainee in balance. Usually any attempts to get specific usually throw them out of balance.

Also, with most new trainees, they don't know what is possible and what isn't. They really only know their own bodies. How can they select a goal when they don't know what is possible. Since their "goals" are not going to affect how I train them, I don't ask.

5) I saw this program on TV, I want results like that.

I will keep this one real simple. Before you invest in the results that you see on TV all the time, ask yourself how many people you know that have gotten results from that program. If you have seen the commercial more times than people you have known that have completed the program, the financial success of the program is more due to marketing success than actually getting people in shape. If you see photoshop being used during the commercials, that is another red flag.

On Biggest Loser and the like, remember these are TV shows that entertain first, and education falls by the wayside.

6) I did the first day of the program, and I felt great - should I do more.

When you are looking at a program, you are looking for the results of the program, you are not looking for "tough workouts." you not only have to take into account intensity and volume, you also have to take into account frequency, or the amount of time you have to recover. In other words, in a program, there is a logic behind each workout. Especially in higher-frequency programs like PttP and RoP, you can't go balls out everytime. This is simply GAS Principle stuff. If the program calls from frequent (3-5x/week), you can't go hard all the time.

7) If I want the results of this program, but don't like/can't do this exercise, I will just substitute this one.

I see this a lot with mass-building or strength building programs. Usually the exercises asked for in this program are heavy, full-body like like deadlifts or squats. And the fact of the matter is that some people just don't have the stones to do those lifts. Well listen guys, when you are evaluating a program, you can't separate the exercise from the protocol. So if I *double face palm* when someone asks "I want wiry mass, I will do PttP. I don't like deadlifts and side presses, can I do leg extensions and tricep kickbacks instead?" you know why.

8) Being surprised that an increase in one lift does not lead to an increase in the main lift.

For example, a lot of people are surprised that a increase in the leg press does not lead to an increase in the squat. Or that an increased bottoms up press may not lead to an increase in pressing. In a leg press, the hip extension is at a different angle than the squat. Also, your hips are supported. Very different than a squat. Totally different exercise. Also, when you do special presses like the bottoms up press or push presses, it only helps if the special press corrects what is the weak link in your normal presses. Follow what the Westsiders do. Do the main lifts, and select corrective exercises based on your weak points.

Also, don't try to say, I can stack press the 24kg and 16kg 6 times, that must be the equivalent of pressing the Beast. Maybe, maybe not. If your have hard time "anchoring" the Beast, stacked presses are not going to help.

9) If a program calls for this exercise, and I pick a harder variation for this exercise, the program will be better right?

Wrong Kimosabe. I hear this a lot with stuff like RoP and VWC. In right of passage, I hear "I am going to do ladders, but I am going to do them bottoms up because it is harder." You are going to fry your CNS doing that. Just lift a heavier bell. Or for VWC/MaxVO2, can't I do Jerks instead, they are harder. Well smart guy, that program with long cycle is that the exercise takes longer, not a great fit if you are working in :15 intervals. Again, the creator of the program is not holding out on you, don't try to "enhance" programs in this way. When you develop a PROGRAM the exercise is as much as part of the the program of the protocol.

10) Asking "Which program is better?"

Here is another one I see on the forum. It is really annoying. Look people, any program that has any type of long-term clout works for something, IF you do it. There is something hidden when poeple ask this question. What they are really doing is taking the accountability away from them and putting it on the program. The better way to evaluate a program is:
* What are my objectives?
1) Does the program sastisfy my objective?
2) Is it doable/feasible?
==> If the answer to these two questions is "YES". Do the program. Commit to it.

Usually people that ask this question also play program roulette.

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