May all your waves be righteous, and all your rides bring you Peace. – ceholli
The break — Cape Hatteras Lighthouse; Buxton, North Carolina. I’m a Texas native through-and-through, and love the ATX for sure. But sometimes, though, I really do miss this place…
I’ll continue with the surfing metaphor in a bit, but first –
Ok, so I’ve had to come off of my “there are no bad modalities (or exercises), only bad applications” stance, as I’ve recently been hit with some rather egregious examples of “bad exercise” — examples that go far beyond any attempted explanation. For instance, this, from Fred Hahn’s recent blog post, in which he (and rightfully so) ripped on such stupefying antics:
I can only hope that this is one bad-ass example of Photoshop ninjaship. Yeah, not much to say about this, other than ask “why??” — and I can only assume the “why” here was an attempt to train “strength under balance”, or some such. I’m really playing pretty here, but hey, that’s my diplomatic nature. Let’s just be clear about something so that we’re starting this discussion from the same page: there’s a difference — a HUGE difference, in fact — between training with the intent to better performance, and the performance itself. That a Cirque du Soleil performer may in fact be able to pull-off such a move — an at an ultra-high frequency, no less, free of injury or failed attempt — in no way implies that it is a good training modality, even for a gymnast.
I’m soooo training for a bitchin’ tee-off, bro!
So this is one commonality upon which all reputable trainers can agree: the most bang-for-the-buck way to make one a better performer in his/her endeavor of choice is to (1) increase that performer’s across-the-board level of strength and, (2) have that person master the sport-specific skills of that particular endeavor. We can all agree, as well, that weighted, near-miss approximations of a sport-specific skill are useless at best, and harmful at worst. This can become pretty damn tricky to the uninitiated, though. Take, for instance, the act of sprinting, where there is a big difference between the start (which can be trained via smartly programmed loading), and the “fly”, where over-speed training is more effectively employed. This isn’t rocket science, really; just careful dissection and analysis of the constituent parts of a movement or action.
Now, what is considered “safe”, “effective” and “efficient” vis-a-vis the acquisition of strength is, of course, debatable among the many schools and/or training philosophies. Another area of contention is the notion of being able to train the Central Nervous System (CNS) as if it were an attribute of (or a corollary to) overall strength. I happen to be of the belief that CNS function, relative to sporting performance, can be bettered with smart S&C programming, but that (1) this comes only with an exponentially large time investment relative to the development of overall strength and, (2) that the risk-to-benefit ratio is much, much narrower than that of the pursuance of across-the-board strength. Again, this all comes back around to assessing one’s goals relative to my “Five Ts” idea:
Time – how much is one willing to invest?
Tools – what are the available S&C/traing tools?
Techniques – one’s repertoire, relative to the available tools
Tenacity (or temperament) – mindset, “stick-with-it-ness”; willpower
Trademark – ectomorph or mesomorph? Ox or gazelle?
In other words, if you’ve got an hour or so a week to spare, I can make you as healthy as a horse. If you’re looking play major college football on the other hand, you’d better be ready to cough-up a hell of a lot more time to devote to attaining that particular goal.
Dude, what about that opening surfing metaphor…?
Oh yeah, I kinda got away from that. Now I’m not hatin’ on my Gulf (puddle-pounding) brahs here by any means, but this is the only thing worthwhile that I’ve surfed since being back in my native land:
Anyway, I’ve long-contended that for a complete strength, hypertrophy and CNS stimulus, one must hit, in a logical and intelligent manner, various points along this strength-velocity continuum. Not in a single workout, mind you (that would be highly counterproductive over the long-haul), but from a 30, 000 foot view, overall programming plan. Limiting one’s self to one small slice of this overall continuum is just…well, to limit the full expression of one’s genetic potential.
There are of course, points along this curve that one would want, in respect to his/her goals (and in respect to the 4 Ts), to emphasize. All part of intelligent programming.
And I’d like to point out, too, that I’m certainly not the first guy talk about this. Most notably, Fred Hatfield and Scott Abel, have communicated volumes on “surfing the force-velocity curve”. Like most things in the realm of S&C — and Physical Culture, in general — a technique, modality, or what have you is found, by trial-and-error (sometimes with a scientific underpinning, but oftentimes not), to work. Over the years, said technique/modality is continually refined and field-bettered. Eventually, science catches up and sheds some light on why the particular technique/modality works. These whys are then put to the test in real-world applications and, if found useful, will be integrated into said technique/modality, thereby tweaking it for the better, or found to be useless in the real-world situation and discarded completely.
So can the CNS be improved — thereby improving sporting performance — via tried-and-true (or even cutting edge) training techniques? Or is it rather, that the best athletes are just naturally better at performing such feats? In other words, do power cleans make a great athlete, or does a great athlete make for impressive power cleans. It’s both, in my opinion; and like just about everything else in life, the truth resides in that gray area of “it depends”. It depends not only upon the sport in question, but upon what aspect of the sport itself we’re talking about. And we need to be as realistic as possible here as well. Highly technical aspects of a particular sport — hitting a bad-ass-breaking curveball, for example — is an entirely different CNS-driven activity than is, say, stealing 2nd. Smartly programmed, CNS-heavy training can, in my opinion, improve one’s speed, whereas putting a wobble board in a batting cage (or squatting on a phisio ball) is simply a recipe for disaster.
They’re all freaks, I tell you!!
I’d love to hear more about concurrent training, and how it affects both performance and health. For instance, how football players seem to do large amounts of weight training and metabolic/skill work on the same days and still get huge, while many people don’t respond well to this kind of training. I would also love to hear about how the negative effects of excessive endurance training might be reduced with proper strength training.
Ironic that I just spoke to my buddy Brent Brentham, of Powermax 360, who’s currently out at this year’s NFL combine, and that he was relaying to me some stories of the ungodly athleticism that he’s witnessed. So in reference to the question above, how is it that (in this case, NFL) athletes endure the inordinate volumes of weight training and metabolic conditioning that would crush mere mortals? Precisely because they’re not mere mortals my friend; genetically, these boys are freaks of fracking nature. Are they better athletes for being able to endure these bloated training volumes and insane intensities? Of course they are. Wolverines like that can bounce back more quickly — and fully recovered, no less — to tackle the next workout. And in fact, they first have to have the genetic predisposition to be able to handle this superhuman volume and intensity in the first place, and then actually carry though on that ability in order to compete at those stratospheric levels. And remember — they’re competing against other Wolverines; it’s an arms race of physicality between the genetically gifted.
With respect to endurance athletes, the idea is simple. These types of events prompt the body to shed muscle mass, along with converting what mass remains into type I fiber. This is a bad combination for multiple reasons, but the two main being (1) less force development per stroke/foot strike and (2) a diminished structure with which to absorb impact forces. A smartly programmed strength protocol, the type of which we do at Efficient Exercise (and we do train many endurance athletes) gives these folks the “strength with which to endure” and the strength with which to survive the onslaught of repeated impact. Or a nasty fall, for that matter.
Ancestral Momentum…in a nutshell?
I was asked recently, just what our Ancestral Momentum “mission statement” might be. Here’s how I replied:
Essentially, what we hope to do via Ancestral Momentum is to leverage modern technology so as to optimize Ancestral Wellbeing. Whether that “modern technology” resides in the kitchen, or in the gym. We look to the evolutionary sciences for clues with which to establish a template for healthy living, then improve upon that template using modern conveniences.
A return to the cave and spear? Nope. An evolutionary-based, n=1, forge into the future.
And finally, just because…
..it’s a bad-ass picture depicting two of the things that I hold dear — cycling and the iron game. Right on.
…and a big thanks to those who keep me humbled..
Ughhhhhh; this bar is over. Over! 🙂
In fitness, health and Ancestral Wellness –