elitefts™ Sunday edition

The Genius is Not in the Program

The other day I was reading a few things about Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program, when it occurred to me that I read somewhere else, almost the same thing. So I crossed-referenced it, and read a few ideas by Josh Bryant that sounded vaguely familiar with a few things I read about earlier on the Charles Poliquin site. Now I got to thinking, what is this – plagiarism? So, I read on, looking at the Conjugated Program vs. Western Periodization, The “Harry” method vs. Marine Corps Recruit training.  The Xfit vs. the Ihavenoidea programming...when all of a sudden it dawns on me! All the BEST programs aren’t the best because of some hidden secret. Oh heck no, they're the best programs for the people that read them and can adhere to them. The similarities that I was beginning to believe were stolen ideas from one great program designer to the next, were in fact nothing more than the old Progressive Overload Training Method, which states: Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress placed upon the body during exercise training."

The idea of “Progressive Overload” was developed by Thomas Delorme, M.D., while he rehabilitated soldiers after World War II. The technique is recognized as a fundamental principle for success in various forms of strength training programs including fitness training, weight lifting, high intensity training and physical therapy programs. Which has its principals based on sciences that state, “A common goal for any strength training program is to increase, or at least maintain the user's physical strength or muscle mass. In order to achieve new results, as opposed to maintaining the current strength capacity, the muscles need to be overloaded, which stimulates the natural adaptive processes of the human body, which develops to cope with the new demands placed on it."

Progressive overload not only stimulates muscle hypertrophy, it also stimulates the development of stronger and denser bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Progressive overload also incrementally increases blood flow to the region of the body. Furthermore, progressive overload stimulates the development of more responsive nerve connection between the brain and the muscles involved

The basic methodology:

In order to minimize injury and maximize results, the athlete begins at a comfortable level of muscular intensity and advances towards overload of the muscles over the course of the exercise program. Progressive overload requires a gradual increase in volume, intensity, frequency or time in order to achieve the targeted goal of the user. In this context, volume and intensity are defined as follows:

  • Volume is the total number of repetitions multiplied by the resistance used as performed in specific periods of time.
  • Intensity is the percent value of maximal functional capacity, expressed as percent repetition maximum.

This technique results in greater gains in physical strength and muscular growth, but there are limits.

  • Periodization, in the context of fitness or strength training programs, is the scheduling of provisions for adequate recovery time between training sessions, variety over the course of a long-term program and motivation - avoiding monotony when repeating identical exercise routines.

(Taken from Wikipedia’s definition of Progressive Overload verbatim.)

I was relieved that my peers weren’t “ripping” off each other. In fact, they were confirming the BASIC principals that worked since the recorded efforts since the end of World War II.  The similarities, are in fact, CONFIRMATIONS of the right things.

The DIFFERENCES and the genius of each program out there, is the PERSON that it attracts.

I heard it said a number of ways.

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

“Some athletes need to be lead, others need to be pushed."

“The ah-ha moment occurred when Coach (fill in the name) said (blank).”

We heard the messages hundreds of times. It was always the same message.  It never changed...EVER! What is different? What makes the 5/3/1 superior to the Starting Strength Method, or vice versa? What does the “Josh” method have over the “Poliquin” method? NOTHING! What it has is the personality that fits the individual.

Example: My pull-up program that I laid out for HUNDREDS, if not, THOUSANDS of people. If you read ONE person’s question and my answer, you’ve read them ALL. Why does it have its popularity? Simple. I provide direct, and simple instructions to PROGRESSIVELY overload an athlete's pull-up volume. The person that adheres to this program is an individual that doesn’t want to think about the process, but just needs direction. Some that read my pull-up program will think, “Sh!t, I don’t need someone telling me what to do all of the time, and gives 'attitude' about it too?” Of course, I understand that I’m not the only “game” in town. But, I provide a valuable service to a particular PERSONALITY.

Which brings me to the BIGGEST and possibly the BEST advice I ever received when it came to the BUSINESS of strength and conditioning. I understood FIRST and foremost that I wasn’t getting paid to be everyone’s friend. However (and this is HUGE for you gym owners and trainers and Strength Coaches), ready for this? NO one cares how much you know, until they know how much you CARE! The number ONE method to do this, here it comes…is NOT the hollering and screaming, the smack talk between sets, or the critique of form during each rep, the most important thing I was EVER told was, “Say hello to everyone, and say goodbye to them." If you can do it by name, entirely better. If you're horrible at remembering their names, the sweetest sound to a person’s ears (and I suck at it), then give them a really cool nickname. (They’ll love you for it).

The caring part is on-par with the greetings and farewells by name. You don’t need to be a cheerleader, but your interest had best be served by serving the athlete.

When I graduate a class of seniors, there are a few that tell me that they will make me famous. I respond to them, “I don’t care about my fame, I care about theirs!” I tell them that I want their “Number 1” jersey to hang on my wall as a memento that I had something to do with THEIR success. I then tell them, that it may NOT come in the sport that we worked our butts off for. However, they may be the person that finds the cure for Cancer. They may be a Noble Peace Prize winner. They could become “THAT” next most important person. Who knows, I might have just trained John Connor himself (Terminator reference). Whatever it might be, I want them to know that life has twists and turns, but regardless, the “Winning Principals” do NOT change.

The 5/3/1, The Josh Strength Method, Poliquin Principles, The West Side Method, German Volume Training, Weider Principles, Mountain Dog Training, T-dog Method, etc...and “The Whatever your gig is Method” isn’t the genius. The genius is the author, and the success of any program is the athlete whose personality fits the methodologies.