Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Way You Train is Not "Insane" Part 1

I’ve noticed a recent trend in the training industry concerning ‘self-guided’ training plans, fitness facility image promotion and participants ‘reaction’ to said programs.  There are innumerable home DVD’s claiming to be the most radical exercise experience ever, while many facilities boast that their systems, and only their programs/methods, provide for some self-proclaimed elite level status of fitness or performance.  Neither of which in reality may be true.
Is This Kind of Training 'Crazy' Enough?
In writing about this topic I’m reminded of something my Dad told me as a youngster just entering the world of competitive sports:
“Remember Jeff, that no matter how good
you are (or think you are) there’s always
someone out there better than you.”

That comment could be taken several ways.  One meaning is to never rest on your laurels, and continue to put in the necessary work and effort to win.  Another is to have a humble attitude toward your perceived strengths, advantages and success and realize you can always do better/work toward a higher standard (not to mention respect for your fellow competitors).  One more view is you may think you’re good, but there’s a long way to go before achieving some status or standard.  And still another interpretation could be show up, shut up and do your work without the expectation or demand for ‘applause’ and recognition.

Before I get into this any further I want to make something clear – I am neither for nor against any of the people, training programs or facilities that are being described here.  I just know that their systems/programs, or the way some of their participants react to them, are not for me, nor are they examples of the way I want to conduct myself as a Coach or in my own training sessions.  Also, any photo where I've made a joke in the caption is a picture of me.  Please understand that these are just my professional observations, with the intent to highlight, in a much longer form, something similar to what my Dad said to me when I was a wee lad – “There’s always a higher standard to attain”.
Reaction to Achieving New Standards Personified
As is true with most fitness offerings designed for mass public consumption, there is some level of value to these work-outs – the extent of the value is obviously dependent on the program/facility that’s created them and who they’re designed for.  In terms of my athletes and my personal goals there is very low value to these ‘home-training’ DVD’s. 

It seems that an image is more what’s being sold here vs. real training progress and development.  It might be ideal for the person who wants to talk about how hard they workout and not really have to participate in difficult and challenging gym efforts.  I was thinking that even though many claim ‘insane’ work-outs that most of the content would be more suited for someone who is somewhat sedentary and de-conditioned vs. a person who is ready to get ‘crazy’ with their training. 

When I watched one program in particular (10 - 12 DVD’s worth of fun!), I thought that many of the “max” sessions were just long, extended warm-up routines.  It was interesting to me to see people in the group behind the leader showing ‘extreme fatigue’ and having to stop periodically during the work-out to regain their composure to continue.  Considering most of the group were ripped up athletic types this reaction was almost worthy of WWF acting standards.  All they were doing were body-weight exercises too (not that BW exercises are bad)!  But wouldn’t it be more ‘wild’ to have to lift a weight equal to one’s BW over your head several times?
Derp, or Natural Reaction to Intense Training?
Another odd occurrence was that these sessions were so strenuous that within a few minutes of just warming-up, many of the group had to remove clothing.  Were those sleeveless, high-tech work-out tee’s just too restrictive, or were they showing how ‘insane’ they were?  We may never know.  

If the person using this training system has never been involved in higher intensity work-outs, or any exercise program (think ‘couch potato’ and worse), then yes, this series of routines will be strenuous and somewhat ‘extreme’.  For this kind of individual though, almost any training routine would seem difficult.  There is also a limited positive effect garnered from the routines, as this type of person does not have a decent level of base-line strength to really put in a sufficient, sustained effort.  How about developing strength first and then participating in a higher intensity program?  To read more about the need for strength first read this

Part 2 coming soon....  

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