I once said something that upset someone

Only once mind you but it scarred me terribly as you can well imagine…I’m very sensitive to the needs and feelings of others as you all know very well.

Now I’m very sketchy on the exact details mainly because I’m pretty sketchy at the best of times but it went something like this. Someone produced an article that was published by Elite. Elite for those of you who don’t know was and probably still is to a certain extant a powerlifting orientated site…that’s changing a little of late…that isn’t a good or bad thing…it’s just a thing. They sell lifting equipment and training related gear of all sorts. Elite has also produced and published some excellent articles…they’ve published some articles that I think are crap but keep in mind I am a bit of an a-hole and I think a lot of stuff is crap but on the whole I think it’s a great site. Now I know what you’re thinking…shut up and get to the point…well it’s my blog and I take as long as I like. So anyway…some powerlifter or powerlifters wrote an article on ‘sports training’ and basically they wrote about how powerlifting, the three lifts and powerlifting style programs were perfect for sport.

Now what happened next was that I made a post on a forum about how that was crap and made some comments about ‘proximity bias’. Now the point I was getting at is that 1. there is no ‘perfect’ way to train. Powerlifting isn’t the perfect way to prepare for sport….except for powerlifting. Olympic lifting isn’t the perfect way to prepare for sport…except Olympic lifting. Bodybuilding isn’t the perfect way to prepare for sport…unless you’re gay….not that there’s anything wrong with that. 2. That you see proximity bias everywhere in coaching. If you get a powerlifter to train you for sport or to write an article about training for sport don’t be too surprised when you end up powerlifting or on the benefits of the three lifts when preparing for sport. If you get an Olympic lifter to train you then don’t be surprised when you end up standing in the gym holding weights over your head and if you get a bodybuilder to train you for sport don’t be surprised when you end up helping him paint on his tan and rubbing him down with oil. This is proximity bias.

Any way what happened next was that someone took my post and copied and pasted it over at Elite and a little shit fit ensued. What I was trying to get at is that you need to start with the athlete first…not with the program or ‘training system’.

The thing is I always come back to this point because I get asked a lot what my training philosophy is? What my training style is? Why I don’t do more Olympic lifting? Why I don’t do more powerlifting style programs? Why there aren’t more mirrors in the gym?

I’ve tried pretty much everything when it comes to training. I’ve worked with and under coaches who were influenced by lots of different training philosophies and styles. The stuff that worked I use…the stuff that didn’t I still learned from and still try every once and a while when I think it might or could perhaps work. In short my style is results based. I test all the time…every 6-8 weeks for the full tests and 3-4 weeks for mid cycle testing. Athletes and clients either get better or worse. I prefer better but don’t mind worse because even if they do get worse I get something from it. I get to find out what doesn’t work.

So in short…just because someone says somthing is crap or dangerous you need to do the following in no partiular order:
1. Some common bloody sense.
2. You need to filter those comments or advice through your own experience.
3. Look for proximity bias.
4. Look for a vested interest. I don’t actually trust a lot of researchers as far as I could throw them…and that’s not a long way…because a lot of them are fat and look like they’ve never trained a day in their life and I’ve a dodgy back and or skinny and frail looking and appear as if they’ve never trained a day in their life and that they’d possibly die on impact. I say this as someone involved in academia. I start every project with my conclusion and work my way backwards. If you asked me to prove that bilateral squatting was bad for sport…I bet I could and if you wanted me to find out it was good for sport…I bet I could. Well maybe not squatting….but I’m sure you get what I mean.
5. I’m sure there’s a 5 but it’s late and I have to be up early.

Discuss!

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6 thoughts on “I once said something that upset someone

  1. Why don’t you just link to your post on elite? 🙂

    If there was such a thing as the perfect way to train…
    The best program is the one that your not on, isnt that so?
    Mirrors are crap in training, except for stroke patients who neglects one side.
    It demands alot more knowledge from the coach and is more time consuming in the begining to start with the individual athlete id say. More work. Better of course.
    A training style is easier to “sell”, thats why they exist.
    Concepts are for the uneducated big mass because a concept kan work for a while if you really belive in it. Of course coaches like’s to do what they are personally good at, isnt that a big problem with most people regarding training? Laziness.
    Just regarding how you can get strong/ flexible/explosive hasnt changed that much the last years has it?

    Here’s 4 videos of Werner Günthör (130 kg, 22.75 m shot put, 2 meter high jump, over 200 kg’s in the clean) training for over 20 years ago:

    http://video.aol.com/video-detail/athle-entrainement-werner-gunthor-partie-1/2613528407

    http://video.aol.com/video-detail/athle-entrainement-werner-gunthor-partie-2/4135466826

    http://video.aol.com/video-detail/athle-entrainement-werner-gunthor-partie-3/473604677

    http://video.aol.com/video-detail/athle-entrainement-werner-gunthor-partie-4/756032787

  2. Joel Hallström said…
    Why don’t you just link to your post on elite? 🙂
    It was deleted.

    If there was such a thing as the perfect way to train…
    The best program is the one that your not on, isnt that so?
    True..unless I’m coaching you in which case you are better off just shutting your mouth and doing what you’re told.

    Mirrors are crap in training, except for stroke patients who neglects one side.
    That was just a joke…you’re Swedish…so you’d never understand. Have you ever heard of a Swedish comedian…neither have I…there’s a reason for that.

    It demands alot more knowledge from the coach and is more time consuming in the begining to start with the individual athlete id say. More work. Better of course.
    Not really…you just tell them what to do and explain it all to them later. That’s only if they want to know. I’ve a lot of athletes who don’t care why I do what I do…they just want to know what to do and how to do it.

    A training style is easier to “sell”, thats why they exist.
    Concepts are for the uneducated big mass because a concept kan work for a while if you really belive in it. Of course coaches like’s to do what they are personally good at, isnt that a big problem with most people regarding training? Laziness.
    What I’m saying is that if you are a powerlifter or powerlifting influeneced coach you’re an idoit if you ignore or discount other styles or methods of training. All the methods are just tools and to get the job done you need to make sure you have all the proper tools in your toolbox. No point trying to bang a nail in with a wrench.

    Just regarding how you can get strong/ flexible/explosive hasnt changed that much the last years has it?
    Not really…not very much. I think more ‘progress’ with regard to training has been made as a result of all the recovery modalities and methodology that in training.

  3. Man id like a reply button! 🙂

    That was just a joke…you’re Swedish…so you’d never understand. Have you ever heard of a Swedish comedian…neither have I…there’s a reason for that.
    Ever heard of a chinese comedian? I think thats a reason for that to…though i remember you spending quite some time in Sweden? 🙂

    Not really…you just tell them what to do and explain it all to them later. That’s only if they want to know. I’ve a lot of athletes who don’t care why I do what I do…they just want to know what to do and how to do it.
    Of course you have no say in this since you speak in from a subject opinion. It will take more time and experience from the coach to do an individual assesment compared of not doing one. Period.

    What I’m saying is that if you are a powerlifter or powerlifting influeneced coach you’re an idoit if you ignore or discount other styles or methods of training. All the methods are just tools and to get the job done you need to make sure you have all the proper tools in your toolbox. No point trying to bang a nail in with a wrench.
    I think we all got that. Or should I say I got that? “Discuss” bah! 🙂

  4. I’m not qualified to comment – but that hasn’t stopped me before.

    you need to start with the athlete first…not with the program or ‘training system’

    That pretty much sums it up.

    It seems inevitable that coaches will favour certain methods and tools to enhance their athletes – no problem with that if they are getting results – but it seems reasonable to me that a good coach will use the right method or the right tool at certain times depending on the unique attributes of each athlete.

    If there was a single perfect program for sport all coaches would be using it.

  5. Loved this post. I think I understood what you were saying. Is this right . . .

    The individuality of athletes means coaches can’t rely on any predetermined training style to get results.

    The athlete’s particular attributes, abilities, injuries, needs etc. determine the methods you use to train them.

    Coaches that limit themselves to a specific training methodology and refuse to look at how other people do things are tools.

    One of the things I’ve been struggling with is sort of related to this proximity bias, but in relation to the way athletes ‘break up’ their various aspects of training into segments.

    Say if your a strength and conditioning coach and you’re given a boxer to train. And you give him some strength and cardio work and test him after eight weeks and he’s improved on both accounts, at least ACCORDING TO THE EXERCISES YOU USED TO TEST HIM WITH. Does this mean you’ve succeeded as a strength and conditioning coach? What if it doesn’t make any difference to his achievements in the ring in general OR WORSE (?) the strength and conditioning improvements seen in the gym (and proven by the tests) aren’t evident in the ring.

    There’s one muay thai dude I trained under when I was recently in Thailand (he’s ranked 8th in Thailand). He is incredibly ‘strong’ at grappling, and his kicks and punches are very powerful by anyone’s standards. That being said, I very much doubt he does any ‘strength and conditioning’ training outside of pushups, pullups, crunches and long runs. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t bench, squat or deadlift very high numbers at all if put to a ‘test’. Yet, as I said, he’s feared for his strength in the grapple and the bone crunching power of his kicks. And he’s managed to reach an elite level in his sport with this simple approach.

    Will said . . .

    “In short my style is results based. I test all the time… every 6-8 weeks for the full tests and 3-4 weeks for mid cycle testing. Athletes and clients either get better or worse. I prefer better but don’t mind worse because even if they do get worse I get something from it. I get to find out what doesn’t work.”

    Can strength and conditioning coaches be said to suffer from proximity bias in that they often assume if an athlete improves his bench, deadlift, pushups, chinups, etc. (or whatever strength and conditioning tests they use) the athlete will automatically be better at his sport.

    I’m not sure about this. I’m starting to think this whole training thing is much more complicated and ‘entangled’ than what people think.

    I read somewhere that Lance Armstrong entered the NY marathon and finished around 800th (?). He’d be close to one of the best ‘endurance’ athletes out there, but he couldn’t ‘transfer’ his bike ‘endurance’ to running ‘endurance”. Yet people still talk about ‘endurance’ as if it’s some kind of generalized attribute.

    Is all ‘strength and conditioning’ like this?

    I gotta stop there. I need to sleep. Sorry about the disjointed post. I’m still working through these issues in my head (which is slow at processing at the best of times).

    I’m sure you’ll have some witty comebacks that will both entertain and educate—or at least rebuke and humiliate 🙂

    Cheers.

  6. Good post Kira. Im like ian, aint sure if im qualifed to comment but since will wanted a discussion i though id do it anyway…
    Training adaptions are highly specific. The transfer of training gain is much lower in good athletes. Thats why the higher an athletes fitness is, the more specific adaption. For a beginner most exercises are useful and probobly both strength and speed will improve with some simple strength training.
    There’s alot of factors that are important do determine the force generated by an athlete, resistance is one.
    Lets take an example from “Science and practice of strength training by zatsiorsky”.

    – A young athlete begin to train with free weights and at first he can squat his BW. In vertical jump he does 40 cm. After 2 years he can squat 2xBW and his vertical jump increases to 60 cm. After two more years he can squat 3xBW. However, his jump performance is not improved because the short takeoff time (the rate of force development) rather than maximal absolute force that now is the limiting factor. Many good athletes need to develop rate of force but continue to train for maximal muscular strength.

    I would guess thats why Will have some numbers (depending on what sport you do) that you need to get up to. And until you get to those number there’s not that need for developing rate of force since the strength is your limiting factor.

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