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1445845293_4943I Like To Try Being The Guy Who Talks About What No One Else Will.

The truth is, I already have been for a while. If you close your eyes and point to any given piece in my blog menu, you’ll see that.

But this piece puts me in a tough place. Time and again I’ve written on commercialization of the training game, not selling out as a coach, maintaining integrity, and the pros and cons of all of the above. Even more recently I highlighted that my industry is one of extremism. If it’s not CrossFit with its back-breaking workouts of the day like “Chrissy”, “Fran”, or “Rhabdo”, then it’s Planet Fitness, where you can put back a couple slices of Meat Lovers’ while doing your set of lumbar extensions.  It’s tough to find middle ground when you’re being pulled from both ends to join up with a community that doesn’t properly reflect the values of the industry. It’s even harder to find a coach who hasn’t jumped on a respectively similar bandwagon.

With That Said, There’s Another Type Of Extremism That I Failed To Mention The First Times Around. To Get My Idea Across, Let Me Give An Illustration.

Imagine a white collar guy with a real worker’s mentality. He puts his nose to the grindstone and clocks a minimum of 60 hours per week, without fail. As he builds experience and skills on the job, he makes more money.  All the while, the guy educates himself from trusted sources about managing wealth and building a good base of savings, and even highly recommended investment strategies to make his money work for him. It proves successful.  Really successful.  And our boy just keeps grinding away, with the most dedicated work ethic since Michael Jordan.  He’s learned the right habits, and he’s got the right mindset to make a secure financial living condition for himself.

The problem comes when we look at his life from a perspective outside of work. Our friend has accumulated millions of dollars in wealth. But his dilapidated rental apartment and beater for a car are indications that he hasn’t used a single cent of it. He’s never gone on vacation or even on a weekend getaway. He doesn’t really party or go out much, and has no immediate family to provide for, or to pass his riches on to when he dies.  He’s become addicted to strictly preserving the (albeit,good) habits that he developed – and now they’ve begun to work against him.

You may be struggling to see where I’m going with this, but it’s coming.

Removed from the balls-to-the-wall zealots, and the out-of-shape empowerment movement, and the duplicitous infomercial fitness “experts”, are all of the legit strength coaches whose interests are in a good place. They don’t want to steal a client’s money, and they want to help them attain better health. That means helping people learn to move well, get stronger while doing so, and prioritizing the fundamental training principles as the hub of their program designs.  It all sounds good, until these coaches do nothing other than swear by these good principles and these good principles alone, regardless of the goals the client (or the trainers themselves) may have.

Rubbish?

Rubbish?

The hard worker in my example wouldn’t have gone belly up if he decided to buy, say, a 700 square foot condo, sell one of his flourishing stocks, take a week-long vacation or two per year, or enjoy the brand new Audi S5. In fact, there’s a good chance that he’d have derived additional benefits from safely doing so. But because of risks he may have heard were associated with much of the above, he avoided them at all costs – even though those risks much more prevalently apply to workers who don’t have a solid foundation or “safety net” of, say, good investments, spending habits, saving habits, and market sense.

To parallel: A coach or lifter who knows and understands the importance of being proficient at squatting, deadlifting, overhead pressing, and overhead pulling can get caught up to the point of vehemently opposing any programming that might even briefly digress from such a strict rubric. As a result, he and all his clients follow suit, with any assistance work employed being strictly designed to make those movements better.

Moves like this will ALWAYS be the most important ones in the game.

There’s nothing “wrong” with it in itself – but it’s useful to remember that such firm rules have the most application to beginners who haven’t yet built a foundation through an extended exposure to proper training methods.

I’ll be blunt. An experienced lifter with strength and accompanied muscle won’t lose all of his gains by going for a steady state cardio session every week, or by doing an ab workout, or by programming Turkish getups, or by doing an open chain movement, or by training in the lateral plane.  Even if he did it for an entire phase of training. Motor patterns don’t just “disappear”.  As per my illustration, the problem comes not in doing these things – but in doing them prematurely.

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And yet, the epidemic of good personal trainers excoriating anything performed on a machine, or any training sets of more than 8 or so reps, still exists – even when it comes to their own training or that of their intermediate and advanced clients.

Bad News About Your Good Training

Many times people look up to athletes they see in pro sports on TV, or to some form of fitness competitors as far as achieving the cosmetic body they’re looking for (as a side note, you’d also be remiss to think that people don’t train to look good. It’s at least half the battle for any recreational lifter who sets foot in the gym).

Knowing this, whether it’s the lithe body of a high jumper or tennis star, the voluminous muscle bellies of a bodybuilder or physique competitor, or the heavy and defined musculature of an NFL running back, you can guarantee such physiques can’t and won’t be achieved simply from making your program breathe off of scant additions to the 5 or 6 key primal movements in the gym we spoke of. Those athletes look like the athletes they are, not only from hitting the weight room, but also from playing their sport, and training athletically.  Likewise, the bodybuilders develop their musculature from complementing those important primal movements with a profusion of isolated, machine based, “non functional” exercises, as it’s the only way to zero in on the development of key muscles.

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Evil?

You know, the kind of stuff that would make pencil-necked form sticklers and keyboard warriors cringe, and are condemned from the programs of a great number of strength coaches, simply because they’re married to one good idea, and want to stay loyal to the dogma. For a long time I was victim of this thinking by avoiding arm isolation exercises, the leg press, and other movements from which my intermediate size clients could have derived huge benefits.

And Another Thing

In a recent article I read by one of my hugest influencers, Dan John, he raised a fantastic point that often flies under the radar: Improved efficiency will improve strength, but can limit fat loss and energy expenditure. The reason why is simple – practicing any movement gets easier with time, as it should. To trigger the greatest fat loss (assuming diet is on point), it would do a lifter well to focus on movements that he’s not quite as proficient at – it’ll make him work harder, plain and simple. That means his performing heavy sets of forgotten Turkish get ups or farmer’s walks may go a longer way than his much more routine sets of deadlifts, relative to the conditioning goal he’s looking to accomplish.

Knowing this, whether it’s the lithe body of a high jumper or tennis star, the voluminous muscle bellies of a bodybuilder or physique competitor, or the heavy and defined musculature of an NFL running back, you can guarantee such physiques can’t and won’t be achieved simply from making your program breathe off of scant additions to the 5 or 6 key primal movements in the gym we spoke of. Those athletes look like the athletes they are, not only from hitting the weight room, but also from playing their sport, and training athletically.  Likewise, the bodybuilders develop their musculature from complementing those important primal movements with a profusion of isolated, machine based, “non functional” exercises, as it’s the only way to zero in on the development of key muscles.

You know, the kind of stuff that would make pencil-necked form sticklers and keyboard warriors cringe, and are condemned from the programs of a great number of strength coaches, simply because they’re married to one good idea, and want to stay loyal to the dogma. For a long time I was victim of this thinking by avoiding arm isolation exercises, the leg press, and other movements from which my intermediate size clients could have derived huge benefits.

Extremist Readers

To my chagrin, I know that a good 25 percent of people who read this are going to think I’m abandoning the supreme importance and effectiveness of the primal movement patterns that I’ve spoken of in countless articles prior.

I don’t have a cure for stupid.  Those who miss the forest for the trees would do well to realize that with this, I’m simply highlighting that there are other areas of weight training that won’t kill a good, disciplined and educated trainee (or coach) to explore, given appropriate time has been spent learning and developing the basics. This blog article isn’t for beginners.  Staying rooted in the primal patterns alone will surely keep a lifter both healthy and strong. It can positively affect physique goals, but, especially after years, it might not optimize them.

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Just like I showed in my white collar worker example at the beginning, it would suck to not take advantage of some “freedom” that you’ve afforded yourself through your own hard work. Supplementing the same habits of ingraining the fundamental patterns (I’ll say this for the last time, they should never leave your training in the big picture) with some variety can further stimulate gains, make programming a bit more interesting, and even target other weak links in strength or general conditioning. If you’ve got your foundation down pat and have a good base of strength, don’t forget you can enjoy new exercise challenges and movements at the same time. Do some sets of 25. Go crush some hills or stairs. Obliterate your muscles using only bodyweight movements to do it. Try using the sandbag, kettlebells, or the TRX for a few weeks.   Your mind doesn’t need to remain corralled to thinking that one and only one thing is good for your body, and everything else threatens your health and wastes your time. Every single thing outside of the big primal movements isn’t bad, and I trust most of you are not competitive powerlifters – and neither are your clients.  You just need to demonstrate level-headedness in your selection process.

Does that mean juggling 3 medicine balls while standing one-legged on the BOSU? No.  

Just know that having that strong base leaves the door open for lots of variety on the side.

So Open, In Fact, That I’m Going To End This Article Without A Period

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