Disclaimer: I don't support any faith or denomination over any other. Second, I don't vote, don't follow politics, and have no political leaning one way or another. While I have been known to play devil’s advocate in a conversational sense on both subjects, it is for one reason—I don't like to see anyone blindly defending or supporting their stance whether theological or political and find it comical when they do. Any conversation on the subject of religion or politics that I have ever engaged in is to get others to jump to knee jerk reactions for my own amusement.

Recently, there has been some of this blind defense going on in training and programming related articles and discussions. Those who are defending one way over another seem to speak in absolutes. There are never absolutes, and nothing ever is the end-all-be-all of training. All things may work, but they don't always work and they don't work so well that all other possible options should be excluded or condemned as heresy. The purpose here is to take an objective view of this issue and bring to light the ridiculousness of all the recent shit slinging.

Defining the aforementioned shit slinging…

This article isn’t referencing any isolated incident, as this happens a lot. Basically, one sphere of influence will say that either a training methodology or system of programming doesn’t work. Most times, this is either due to anecdotal evidence such as they tried it and didn’t have the best results or what they're doing now is working better. Word gets back to the opposite sphere of influence, who then releases material in the form of a counter-attack saying that their program indeed works. They then slam the original attacker.

I don't have any problem with this if there is indisputable evidence that one program or methodology may be scientifically superior or a logical system of using one over the other should be applied at a current point in time. I think that civilized discussion and disagreement can lead to some constructive criticism, which, in turn, can help people possibly take an objective look at what they're doing. I do have a problem when these so-called spheres of influence simply attack each other and try to discredit what others are doing rather than present logical reasoning as to why their way is better. I also don’t like to necessarily hear anecdotal information about why it will work for everyone because it worked for a certain group that may or may not be similar to the reader.

I get why these people who are writing material may be doing this. If they have books, websites, products, and so on that they can make money from, I get the point of defending their work. I don't have any problem with this as long as it's logically done and doesn’t become nothing more than discrediting others. What I don’t get is the numerous people who have no real ties to the author but become followers and feel the need to thump their chests and defend their respective sphere of influence. Go to just about any forum about training and you'll see what I mean. They're filled with people who really don't understand the how and why behind the training and will merely take a home-team approach to defending their respective style of training. In essence, these people become a mouthpiece for more shit slinging, which negatively contributes to the problem.

My own experience…

Some time ago, I was still active on a few forums. While some knowledgeable lifters still take the time to post on forums, for the most part, many of them are void of anything with substance and are nothing more than the training version of a tabloid. They also feature a lot of pissing matches that at one point may have had a relevant discussion but have spiraled out of control into personal beliefs and the usual shit talking that has no redeeming value.

I do remember being fairly critical of a specific system of training, which I had done in the past although not necessarily well. I had made a few backhanded remarks and had then went on to discuss why what I was currently doing at that time was better. Of course, my remarks were met with inflammatory rebuttals (which resulted in the “watered down Russian” remark that was referenced here). It wasn’t until the thread cycled back into constructive discussion about what worked and what didn’t for me and others that any good came out of it. The fact was that neither system was superior, and the reason for the successes or failures were mainly due to coaching factors.

The reality here is that many people do what I did, which is tear something down to first bring attention to themselves. This happens a lot not just on forums but also in articles. By being controversial, it will possibly pull some people in for nothing more than shock value. If anyone recalls Michael Boyle and his thoughts on squatting, you might recall the backlash that was created. Whether this was the intention isn’t necessarily clear, but you get the picture. However, it isn’t until getting to the real informative parts that people may listen to what is being said.

The problem here is that many people don’t actually have any hard facts to back this up. The process of tearing down will go on and on without any actual true information other than what can be classified as anecdotal at best. This is the true downfall of forums. Anyone with a keyboard and a belief or opinion can spout off random shit without some evidence of the validity of their claims. This is really the reason I don’t frequent them often, unless it is for comic relief or maybe meet results/videos.

The problem with blindly defending…

It's bad to blindly defend anything because it brings about a certain amount of close-mindedness. With this comes the inability to decipher science from belief or possibly seek out a better way to adapt your own training and that of your athletes. When there is a failure to attempt to adapt, you, in my view, are no longer looking to improve your programming.

Here are some examples that may help show a clearer view of what I'm getting at. I'll just throw this out there—I'm not a very big proponent of Olympic lifting for athletes. In my experience as well as what research has shown, there are numerous other options to get the same results through movements with less-complex motor patterns and shorter learning curves. Along with this, I'm not very proficient in the movements that involve the catches, so I wouldn't be able to give my athletes a clear demonstration of the full lift myself. Because of this, I don't use them with my football players. However, this doesn’t mean that I think anyone who does use the Olympic lifts is wrong or full of shit on all things training. Other than a very general means such as weight room exercises being used, me and a coach who has an Olympic lifting-based program might have very similar ideas on other aspects of preparation of athletes. Additionally, while I don’t compete in Olympic lifting or ever plan to, I've started to incorporate some of the ideas of Olympic lifting into a large portion of my training and have recently seen success with this.

Another example I'll use is block periodization. Some probably think that I feel block periodization is hands down the best system to prepare for a powerlifting meet and all other systems are shitty in comparison. Actually, it's just one type of system of programming and it isn’t appropriate for all levels of lifters. With the powerlifters who consult with me, I have many who aren’t using this system because they don’t need it at this current point in time. I'm not married to the idea of any one system for any collective group because there are too many factors at play. In fact, some of the things I've been recently experimenting with in my own training blur the lines of the system of periodization that I’m using. It's still based off the principles, but a lot of things I'm incorporating may not fall in line with what has traditionally been viewed as the block system.

To give yet another example, people may have seen me write about the Bulgarians or maybe heard me speak of these methods along with those of John Broz. While I don’t necessarily agree that everyone can train maximally multiple times a day, I do think some of what has been said about being capable of more than what is commonly believed is possible. Mike Tuchscherer also has touched on this in some of his work. I think many people may sell themselves short, and all of these sources have challenged people to work harder. This also goes for Westside. While I don’t follow a template similar to what Louie Simmons or his lifters use, I think some of the movements and exercises they've come up with are great for certain purposes. My application of these may be different, but the innovations they have made have helped training evolve.

One last one for now. As evidenced by my writings, I'm heavily influenced by the methods of the former Eastern Bloc. My reasoning is that the methodologies and science are well researched and proven. Time and time again, these countries have shown results with a limited economy as well as limited gene pool of athletes to select from. But let’s back up for one second and remember what sport I coach.

As much as all the science, methods of special strength training, and so on from the Eastern Bloc have proven, there isn't much written for technical and tactical preparation, as I work with football (yes, the American kind with helmets and shoulder pads, not the one from across the pond). While there is much I can apply from these overseas resources, for some of the specialized exercises as well as technical and tactical preparation, some of the best resources will be knowledgeable football coaches here in America. If I was close minded and didn’t want to listen to anyone without an eastern European surname, I might be limiting the amount of information I utilize on how to make any SPP exercise fit into what needs to be accomplished. Understand that not all football coaches fit this profile, but there are definitely some out there if you're open and willing to look.

Ask yourself this…

When looking at your own training or the training of your athletes, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I getting the best results with the least amount of expense and risk?
  2. Is what I'm doing supported by fact as opposed to opinion?
  3. Am I able to explain what I'm doing clearly with the aforementioned facts to back it up?
  4. Am I able to logically progress my/their training toward the end goal?
  5. Am I able to competently modify the training if needed?
  6. Can I accurately assess my training?

If what you're doing can satisfy all these, you're doing something that is worth defending.   Training should always be designed to reach the desired results with the least amount of risk and/or expense (whether we're talking about time or stress). There also should be some factual information that supports what you're doing rather than just the beliefs or opinions of others. It also shouldn’t be thrown in only because it was the newest video on YouTube.

As far as progression and modification, a program requires monitoring and revision depending on the unique variables for each situation. When I say "unique variables," I'm referring to the ability to actually understand the different variables and how their manipulation correlates to the desired effects. This isn’t always easy, as there may be lurking variables outside the training program. Being able to progress, modify, and assess while accounting for any outside lurking variables actually ties in with numbers four through six on the list above.


Looking back at everything discussed, I don't have any problem with civilized debate when it comes to training. If factual information and constructive criticism can be presented, many can learn about systems different from their own. However, I don't see any purpose in constantly tearing down other systems, lifters, or coaches without any informational purpose. This is human nature because it has gone on since the beginning of time in religion, politics, and so on.

Most people are a composite of their influences along with their own modifications to fit their current scenario. My own training and coaching has been influenced by the Eastern Bloc literature, the coaches I've worked with, and lifters I've either talked to or trained with. Being able to take what works for you, discard what doesn’t, and logically apply it to your own training or your athletes will lead to success. Shutting out information simply because it doesn’t come from a narrow scope of influences that appeal will limit long-term progress.