Monday, October 24, 2016

What is your training goal? - By RJ Hicks

Where do coaches start when designing a new training program? The biggest difference between working out and training is ones’ plan of attack. Whether it be a new client, athlete, or the entire team, the number one question to ask is “what is your training goal?”. If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know if you ever get there? It is difficult to achieve ones’ dream without a picture in mind, just as it is challenging to design a strength training program with undefined goals. Once you have a goal, an appropriate plan can be put into place with productive training on the way.

Every goal should be unique to the client or athlete, just as no client or athlete is the same. Medical history, experience, lifestyle and occupation or sport all play a factor in determining or redefining one’s goals. No one method will work for each individual, which is why it is important as a coach to develop a large tool box. Do not get boxed into certain cults or camps in the strength and conditioning field. Develop that large tool box and be open minded to what other strength coaches have been successful with. There are many different methods of strength training that can fit under the same principle umbrella. Do not be afraid to use different methods of strength training responsibly.

There are many great methods that can be used based off the client or athlete’s goals. If you were training a Powerlifter with the goal of reaching the highest 1 rep max possible, one method to use is a low rep pyramid scheme with mainly barbells, covering the “big 3” (deadlift, squat, bench). The rep range for low rep pyramid training in the “Big 3” should stay 5 reps and under since in competition powerlifters never do more than 1 rep. A lower volume higher rest scheme should be implemented to ensure the powerlifter recovered enough to lift the most amount of weight each time. A barbell should be used in most exercises since mastering movements on a barbell takes practice to develop that specific skill that the sport demands. This is one great way to train a powerlifter, however not all trainees are powerlifters and would benefit the most from this training.

If you were training a basketball team with athletes whose goal is to prevent injury while gaining strength and some metabolic conditioning, High intensity strength training at one set to failure with all hammer strength machines is a great idea. Having the athletes train the full body with low volume and low rest at one set to failure will improve strength and metabolic conditioning. The use of machines is advantageous for athletes with abnormal body types such as most basketball players. Proper use of a good Hammer Strength leg press machine or a Squat Pro for a 6’5 athletes with narrow hips is safer and more productive then having the athlete barbell squat. The infrequent and short training sessions will give the athletes more time to develop their individual sport skills needed for playing basketball. High intensity strength training with 1 set to failure is great for some athletes, however it is not realistic to have everyone be able to train to momentary muscular failure.

Let’s say you’re training the average Joe who works 40 hours a week and wants to be a stronger more muscular version of him or herself, a Hardgainer approach that Stuart McRobert lays out perfectly in “Brawn” is a fantastic method. A twice a week lifting approach where the full body is trained each week with safe basic compound exercises for 2-3 sets. Long training cycles with small adjustments based off of individual performance is used with poundage progression, being the main goal, with short layoffs to cycle intensity. Infrequent strength training fits well into the 40-hour work week and allows for adequate recovery from a hectic schedule and for the average Joe to actually train. A realistic training intensity can be achieved where the trainee trains hard, yet are not forced to obliterate his/her self every workout. This allows for the trainee to build up to harder to more challenging training, while staying motivated. While, flexibility in training equipment and exercises permits the trainee to train at most gyms or at home. The list goes on: Dinosaur training for young fit motivated athletes, Olympic lifts for Olympic lifters, super slow for those with injuries or love to feel “the burn”, the tier system in a team atmosphere. All of these training methods has their place in strength training and should be matched properly with the client or athletes goal.

Countless coaches see great success in their clients and athletes with the practical application of many strength training methods. No two coaches have to be the same to be successful, just how there is no one right mode or method for everyone. Many methods of strength training can be productive as long as it fits ones’ strength training principles and matches the client’s goal. So the first step to deciding the proper strength training method is to ask “what is your goal?”
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The Value of Persistence in Training - By Jim Duggan

One of the best things about past issues of the old muscle magazines is the tremendous amount of quality information found within the pages of these treasures. Yes, it is enjoyable to "walk down memory lane, " and read about the champions of yesterday. It is particularly satisfying to revisit the magazines from a specific period. Perhaps look at the results from the Olympics of the 1970s, and see what the lifters of forty years ago were doing. Or maybe re-read an old article featuring a favorite athlete, or author. Maybe the old advertisements will bring back memories of some of the products that we all purchased in our quest for size and strength. Hi-Proteen, Super Hi-proteen, Energy, etc., are among the classic products that those of a certain age will look back upon with fond memories. Whatever the reason for reading the classic magazines, it always comes down to good, solid training information. Quality information knows no expiration date. It never goes out of style. And, of course, when I say classic magazines, I am referring to such stalwarts as "Strength and Health," "Muscular Development, " and Peary Rader's "Ironman."

One particular magazine that I have recently read is the November 1969 issue of Muscular Development. Reading through this issue wasn't exactly a trip down memory lane for me, as I was five years-old when this issue hit the newsstands. But, forty-seven years later, the editorial in this issue contains words of wisdom that could benefit anybody training today. John Grimek's editorial was titled "The Value of Persistence in Training." While the editorial itself only contained about four or five paragraphs, within each one are words of advice from which we can all benefit.

Within the first few sentences are the words: "Too many beginners, mostly youngsters, who take up training do so with a zealous fervor only to give it up after a few months simply because they did not make the progress they had hoped to achieve." We've all experienced slow gains, frustration, plateaus, and other obstacles. But the most important thing is to never give up. Whatever your goals, and whatever your age, develop a plan, devise a system, and do it. Don't complain about not having time to train, or being tired, or too busy. Make it happen.

The second paragraph contains lines from an article that John Grimek had originally written in the 1930s for Strength and Health Magazine. It reads as follows:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful talents.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."

Mr. Grimek wrote that the author of these inspiring words was unknown. However, that is not true. The person who wrote these lines is none other than Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States. And while historians and scholars will endlessly debate his strengths and weaknesses as a President, those of us fortunate enough to read this words will continue to be inspired by them for generations to come.

Mr. Grimek also wrote that there is a lesson to be learned from the above quotation. And, of course he was absolutely correct. He was correct back in 1969, and he is still correct today, in 2016. Persistence comes in many forms. Maybe it's Doug Hepburn, who was born with a deformity in his right foot (club foot). His leg never developed properly, but through sheer determination, he became the first person to ever Bench Press 500 Lbs., and was the strongest man in the world during the 1950s. Or perhaps Persistence is exemplified by the great discus thrower, Al Oerter, the first man to win four Olympic gold medals in one event. Al overcame a near fatal automobile accident prior to the 1960 Olympic games to win the gold, then four years later, he overcame a very serious ribcage injury to win gold again. Then there's Bruno Sammartino, the Living Legend. Bruno's early childhood was spent in the mountains of Italy, hiding from the Germans during World War II. Arriving in America at the age of fifteen, he was a very sickly child. As a teenager, he was literally a 98 Lb. weakling. But through sheer force of will, and hard work, Bruno became one of the strongest men the world has ever seen. Had he not dedicated his life to becoming one of the greatest wrestlers in history, he would have set lifting records that would have stood for the next century.

The last paragraph of John Grimek's editorial drives home the importance of being persistent in one's training. "Results are dependent on the effort one puts into his training and not the kind of program he is following." Basically, stop searching for that ever-elusive, magical, super-secret training program. Instead, follow a commonsense regimen consisting of hard work on the basics. Strive for poundage progression, give your body adequate rest and nutrition, and you will be on your way. For drug-related strength athletes, Persistence and determination will ensure that you will make gains in size and strength. While the gains you make might be more gradual than meteoric, they will last. And it is more advantageous to gain slowly, than by trying to put on 25 to 30 pounds within a few months.

I will conclude this article with the exact words that the great John Grimek used to end his editorial: "So persist and don't give up because the going gets tough. Success may be just around the corner, and who deserves it more than you? No one. That's why you should'll win out."
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