“Good artists borrow, great artists steal” – Pablo Picasso

What do NASA, NASCAR and high-caliber athletics have in common?  All are bleeding-edge, envelope-pushing endeavors that you can ultimately benefit from.  And not just in an ethereal, obscure way — but in a practical, day-to-day fashion.

Fried your eggs in a Teflon-lined pan this morning?  Thank NASA for that one.  That uber-responsive suspension in your car (that you don’t even think about because you never had to do time hauling hay in a 1950s era International truck…)?  Tip your hat NASCAR’s way.   Getting the most out of your training via, for instance, proficient surfing of the force-velocity curve?  Thank the S&C professionals who were able to take the envelope-pushing, eastern-bloc modalities and boil them down to sensible, doable applications for the regular guy.

“Sensible” and “doable” are key words here.  The danger here comes not from grabbing the essence of what top-tier athletes do to enhance performance — it comes from the attempt at mimicry.  Remember this: athletes get paid to be just that — athletes — 24/7.  They can afford to be in the stratosphere vis-a-vis workout duration and frequency because they also get paid to recover.  You, my friend, get paid neither to workout nor recover, but to be (in the case of the majority of my Efficient Exercise clientele) an 80-hour-per-week attorney clawing his or her way into firm partnership.  For my clientele, “performance” means rockin’ health and body composition, and the sustained energy to bust-ass during those 80+ hour weeks with very little in the way of exercise time investment.  Hell, they simply don’t have time for a large exercise investment.

 So time and resources are at a premium, and we’re forced to grab the essence of what high-caliber athletes do.  But what, exactly, do I mean by “grabbing the essence”?  Well, as an example, I don’t think that it’s any secret that I am an aficionado of all things eastern-bloc when it comes to training methodologies (insofar as they apply to sporting enhancement).  We in the US can shove our collective heads in the sand, claim ethical superiority, and chant that eastern-bloc sporting prowess was all due to PED sophistication…and on that account we’d be dead wrong.  If performance-enhancing drugs were somehow magically vanquished from sport, Lance Armstrong would still reign supreme on a bike, and the eastern-bloc would have still thrashed our asses in Olympic sport.  You simply cannot beat superior talent identification coupled with light-years-advanced training methodologies.  

And once these superior methodologies are found, what do you do?  Steal from them, of course!  Make them yours!  Just give credit where credit is due.

Understand this: I don’t care if the North Koreans come up with a superior training system — I’ll be the first to steal from it, bend it, and make it my own.  Now, I might think that they are politically and culturally bankrupt, but that is of no matter to me insofar as training goes.  The question here is of training superiority only, not political and/or human rights abuses.  On the latter account, I’d like to see the political leaders act as fodder for live-fire SEAL training.  But that’s just me 😉

A quick aside:

Somewhere there is a picture floating around of me in west Berlin, at the infamous Checkpoint Charlie.  The year is 1987 — 2 years prior to the wall coming down and officially ending the Cold War.  I’m in street clothes, though enlisted in the US Navy.  Looking very Born in the USA in a flat top, aviators, and faded Levis jacket.  The shot is angled from the rear, and I’m looking back over my shoulder at the camera with a smirk, giving dual-handed, single-finger salutes to the east German guards poised stoically on the other side of the wall.  Yeah, I was young, dumb (and with a few too many pints under the belt) and it was a sophomoric thing to do.  But what I really remember of that day is knowing that a wealth of sports science knowledge lay just on the other side of that wall, and an f’d-up political system kept it under wraps.  The second-hand info that had tricked out over the decades was at once completely different and amazing…but so hard to fully piece together.  Note: East Germany, with a population roughly equal to that of the state of Virginia, consistently rivaled the US and Russia in Olympic medal count during the Cold War years. 

Enter Louie Simmons, West Side barbell, and the SuperTraining phenomena.

As obtuse as Louie Simmons can sometimes be in explaining his methods, and as hard as Super Training is at times to comprehend, both are still tremendous conduits at beginning to bend these eastern-bloc methods away from classic Olympic sports (track and filed, Oly lifting) toward more mainstream American sports (football, baseball, basketball, etc.).  Now, I’m as far removed from Louie Simmons’ powerlifting as one can get, however, I can see that his methods are just one step removed from where I want to go.   I get surfing the force-velocity curve, compensatory acceleration, building a base of strength and GPP, training one’s weakness via volume and repetition method, and I’ve been able to bend those methods to fit not only my own needs, but those of my clients.  

Below is an awesome interview with Louie Simmons, from the fellas at Barbell Shrugged:

And for those wondering what just what banded speed-strength training for the clean and jerk might look like, check this out:

Again, the key here is not mimicry, but stealing the essence and bending it to your will.

You’ve got to take this information and weigh it against your goals.  Filter it through your Five T’s, then hit the ground running.  Take what is useful, and make it your own.  Discard what is not useful in your particular situation, and do so without judgement.  What you discard may be the key ingredient for someone else, given their goals and Five Ts.

In health, fitness and ancestral wellness –

Keith

4 COMMENTS

  1. I’m a guy from Czech, the country of Sokol. It takes me 2 hours by car to Dresden, eastern Germany. Why the hell am I looking for the advice here?:-) It might be that nobody really modifies those methods for mortals. Here you either do the athlete’s programme, or give up and do some gym and jogging haphazardly where you give the impression of high volume fitness livestyle that us not supported by adequate results. Especially running, usually using tools like sporttesters, fitbit, nike bands etc. is big. Crossfit style workouts are gaining popularity as well, usually kinda ridiculous versions with gass masks and hammering tyres. Lot of huge fitness centrers open, with treadmills, pretty good gyms, spa, squash etc. So it’s either educated high volume or uneducated high volume. Kieser training facilities exist, but nobody knows.

    • Ah, yes! You’d think being so close, someone would have figured out how to modify these ideas! Yep, this stuff *does* have to be pared-down for mere mortals. The essence of the ideas, though, *everyone* can put to use. Smart exercise structure and volume/intensity manipulation are key.

  2. Great stuff once again, Keith! Thanks for producing such quality material at such a great price! Seriously though I really have enjoyed reading your work over the years, thank you!

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