Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some Things That Bug Me Too (II)

A few weeks ago Leif posted a few things that bugged him. Lately I have had a few things come to mind. The title is not very original, but what the heck, it worked for Rocky I, II, III, IV, V, then…. , oh well.

-Computerized training programs. Punching in numbers and printing off programs is the antithesis of coaching. If it was that easy, we wouldn’t need coaches. Whatever happened to talking with athletes, asking them how they feel, observing them and prescribing a training program; or at least making adjustments in the program. Humans are not machines and the number of sets, reps, or amount of weight cannot be programmed weeks in advance. Any coach who passes out a computerized sheet of sets, reps, and the amount of weight to be used and expects it to be followed without variation is guilty of malpractice. Which leads to…….

-Giving every athlete the same program. At the beginning level there is some justification for this as everyone needs to master some basics and build a certain foundational level. You have to master addition, subtraction, long division, and multiplication before you can do Calculus. Or so I’m told. (I’ve made it this far without Calculus.) After that, giving everyone the same program is as much malpractice as a doctor giving all of his patients the same prescription regardless of diagnosis. Each athlete has their own set of strengths, weaknesses, individual history and characteristics. What is so hard about talking with your athletes a little about their goals and experiences? Especially if you claim to be a professional.

-Half racks and squat cages with platforms attached. What’s the point?

They may look impressive to na├»ve recruits , but they take up much more room than their functions would dictate. I am not against Power racks, but I think they should have holes all the way over head to allow sufficient height for over head lockouts and partial presses. And I think there should also be holes all the way down allowing for partial pulls and functional isometric work. Platforms should be separate and unencumbered allowing space for doing full Snatches and for the often overlooked combination of cleans and overhead lifts such as push jerks, push presses, or Clean and Jerks. Which reminds me…..

-Paucity of overhead work. I think it is a mistake to focus on cleans only without incorporating overhead work too. I think the most effective and functional, yes I mean really functional, (not pressing 30 lb. dumbbells on a stability ball) exercise is lifting a bar from the floor to overhead. We don’t do enough of that anymore in my opinion. Doing so all but insures adequate flexibility, muscular balance, and coordination.

-Bare, sterile weight rooms. I think every weight room needs to have some history, character, and information on it’s walls. Record boards of some type are great. Pictures of past achievers or current high level performers are very motivational and aesthetic . Bulletin boards with articles from current journals and magazines are a great way to spread information on nutrition, exercise technique, and motivate athletes.

-Anything that is supposed to be new, revolutionary, or secret. I have been around the training business for close to 40 years now and I have yet to see anything that has never been done before in the way of training methods. Kettle bells, Indian Clubs, Stretch bands, Chains,…..Old becomes new after awhile. There are no secrets and the human body still responds to training the same way it has for centuries. Which brings me to…….

-Young guys who don’t take the time to learn the history of their sport or profession. One of the differences between a job and a profession is that a professional knows the history and foundational knowledge of their profession. I really think you need to have a respect for those who have gone before and paved the way. Be a professional and know your roots.

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