Originally Published: March 24, 2013 on Elitefts.net
Some of us really love this shit. I don’t mean just working out every week; I have soccer mom clients that do that. I don’t mean doing a WOD and then proclaiming yourself the fittest person on earth, either. Hundreds of clueless sedentary people do that daily. I mean those of us who LIVE for this—who lift when on vacation (with or without a gym), who train through injuries (not that I’m advising this), who are never satisfied with their results or their knowledge, who don’t drink the kool-aid on the latest and greatest fad, and who acknowledge that there are people much more knowledgeable and experienced than themselves. This is not a means to an end. It’s a lifestyle.
This past month, Coach X and I have been working with several current NFL athletes and guys preparing for the NFL Draft. When I say Coach X and I, it’s mainly him—I am just along for the ride, trying to help where I can. True strength and conditioning like this is a fucking art. You can’t take some exercise science classes, get a weekend certification, and then think that you understand this shit. Have some respect for the guys that have paved the way in this industry. I consider myself a pretty intelligent and well-researched guy; however, the more I read, the more I learn that I don’t have a fucking clue. The knowledge and information out there is so vast and ever-changing that it’s overwhelming at times. So, many give up and latch on to a new ridiculous fad (TRX, CrossFit, P90X, Insanity, Hip Hop Abs) and ignore all of the research and brilliant minds out there. “Why?” you might ask. Because truly learning this “sport” is extremely difficult and takes years of experience and hours of having to…wait for it…actually read. In between working with clients at our facility, Coach X and I are reading—not performing as many kipping pull-ups as we can in 30 seconds.
Where does this semi-rant stem from? Probably from the recent ban imposed on me by a local CrossFit gym whose ideas I challenged. How can we learn if we never challenge anything? Why do they always get so defensive? As if I’m calling their mother a whore. It wasn’t an attack, either. I simply wanted to have a discussion. Mind you, their profile picture on Facebook is of an older, out-of-shape sedentary female plopped up against the wall, looking faint and ready to puke…which says enough to those of us who truly understand the goal of training. The goal is not to kill people so that they can pound their chests and proclaim they work out. At the end of a workout you should feel good; it’s called eustress. It’s not hard to make someone throw up. Just have them push a loaded Prowler® for multiple sprints. Now, I don’t want to turn this article into a CrossFit bashing session because I do think that it’s better than doing nothing…but so is Zumba for that matter. However, when I said that Olympic lifting wasn’t necessary for athletes (other than Olympic lifters), the CrossFit team was quite upset. It’s nothing against the O-Lifts. They are awesome lifts, but they are just very technical and require a lot of time to teach. And when working with athletes, you don’t always have that sort of time, especially when a similar stimulus can be achieved with medball work. Athletes have the technicalities of their own sport to worry about, and as a coach you have to maximize the amount of time you have with them. They are athletes, not lifters.
One snippy remark back was, “Well, you probably use bench press. Ha! You morons.” Well, seeing as though the NFL athletes we train need to be able to bench press 225 pounds for as many reps as possible for their pro day and the combine, it makes some sense for them to bench. (Not that it’s the only form of “bench” we use). But thank you for being so blatantly ignorant about what we do and how we do it. We also do their rehabilitation, improve sprint mechanics, etc. Yet, the best is when you remind them that you can’t train all three energy systems (alactic, anaerobic, aerobic) at the same time. They just pretend you never said it.
The problem I have lies in the lack of respect for the strength and conditioning industry and its pioneers. Everyone wants a quick fix—a special program, but that just doesn’t exist. So, once they determine that there are too many people who know more, and too many resources to read, they must find something new to latch on to. Insert the latest and greatest workout—we must reinvent the wheel if we can’t quite understand the wheel. In my opinion, it’s all just marketing to a generation who needs to be told what is good, bad, cool, popular, healthy, etc. Invent a new program, link with Reebok or Nike, pay some celebs to endorse it, air it on TV, kinesieo tape your face, and Boom! There it is. Because the general public knows so little, it’s quite easy to impress them. They hear so much bullshit on TV, radio, Facebook, and from personal trainers that they will believe anything you say as long as you 1) Say it with authority, 2) Have some stupid letters by your name, and 3) Use words they are unfamiliar with. The best part is NOBODY EVER ASKS WHY. Whenever I have a client do something, I tell them why. However, if I didn’t, they wouldn’t ask. I could tell someone to take his shirt off and scream when doing bench because it increases neural drive by 15 percent, and before you know it, his shirt would be off and he’d be yelling like Christen Bale’s rant on the set of Terminator Salvation.
Here is my advice for anyone who goes to a personal trainer, nutritionist, physical therapist, doctor, etc.—ask WHY! Ask your instructors what their random three WOD exercises are for, why they chose the time they chose, why they chose the reps, and how it will benefit you and your goals. Even if they don’t have a clue, at least you are keeping them honest and making them think. Ask why they train men and women the same regardless of the numerous anatomical and physiological differences between the two. Ask why they think humans haven’t evolved and need to eat whatever version of “Paleo” they follow. Ask why, if Dr. Oz’s Rasberry Ketones are so magical, the majority of people are still fat and developing diabetes at a rapid rate. The answer is that we are all consumers just waiting to be sold something, regardless of what it is or who is selling it.
Meanwhile, people like us (readers of Elitefts™) are becoming outcasts. We aren’t wanted in “gyms” like Planet Fitness, and we are mocked for sometimes using a bench press. Sadly, I think True Lifers are a dying breed. Gyms don’t allow chalk, and you can’t slam heavy weights. Instead, you should work out in groups so we can hold hands and talk about our feelings. Few people are recognized for their knowledge or greatness anymore, only for how much ass they kiss, how much they market themselves, and how many morons they can get to drink their kool-aid. So here is my advice: cherish the free information provided by brilliant minds like Buddy Morris, Dave Tate, James Smith, and Louie, and never stop learning! Okay, my rant is over. Back to reading, even though Glassman said nothing in lifting is based on science…