Exercise Obsession

I remember when I started my coaching education and becoming professionally interested into sport training (don’t confuse this with watching sports) I was obsessed with individual exercises. I was thinking which one was better, harder, puke inducing, etc. Which one should be done all the time, which one was better choice.

Over time, I started being more interested into how individual training session is organized, training week and latter programming and planning strategies. Seeing the big picture: setting goals and route toward achieving them based on athletes characteristics and context at hand.

The exercise selection and classification (I really love Bondarchuk exercise classification) is nothing that exists on itself, a dogmatic set of exercises, but it is based on training goals, athlete, context, training plan and program. When you see the big picture you can start looking at individual trees. Exercises (and even methods) are only tools in your toolbox that you utilize to fix certain (training) problems. The problem is that people use hammer to cut the paper. There is no need to develop affection to exercises.

I am again referencing to texts by Lyle McDonald (yes, I have professional affection to this skinny guy) where guys (Bros?) are dogmatically using certain sets of exercises for everyone and for every goal. Fat loss? Squats. Arm size? Squats. Vertical Jump? Squats. Penis enlargement? Squats.

Squats vs. Leg Press for Big Legs (Q&A)

Training the Obese Beginner. Part 6. Excellent series of articles on the subject of training the obese clients.

Another awesome quote comes from Matt Perryman’s article Le’t talk about fitness where he is ‘critiquing’ CrossFit:

Point being: the euphoria you feel after a metabolically-intensive, cardiovascularly-challenging workout is not reflective of that workout’s effectiveness, where effectiveness is defined as moving you toward your goal.”

The question is why are some people still obsessed with exercises? Check out internet blogs:
“The best exercise ever”
“The workout of the week”
“The best fat loss exercise/workout”
“The exercise you must do”
“The circuit of the week”

This is all interesting from perspective of proving workout examples (workout is not training because it is pulled out of bigger context/plan/program) but it does mean jack shit. What are the goals? Training level of the athlete (you)? Context at hand?

If I provide training session of the volleyball athlete I am working with people will laugh at me. He has Olympic Gold (Sydney) and Olympic Bronze (Atlanta). Yes, he is doing dumbell press, leg press and lat pull downs. Bullshit? He also rides a bike as an aerobic work? Not specific enough for you? Try to answer this sincerely: what the hell do you know about him (injuries, age, issues, motivation), his goals, training period and context (facilities, life, kids..) we have? NOTHING! Then how can you say anything regarding the training session? Taken out of context everything means nothing, so without knowing the data I know (at least I think I know) you cannot say anything regarding my planning/programming or anyone else’s. When you know the stuff behind my decisions then you can make critique to the solution I provided. It is not perfect. Life is not perfect either.

So stop being obsessed with individual exercises, exercise selection and workout.

Why internet experts cannot switch this ‘metastable’ stage of exercise and start thinking more about the big picture? Why are they still ‘locked’ in this particular stage of training knowledge?

Why can’t they see that the effectiveness of a certain exercise, load, workout is assessed by reaching of the predefined goals and not ‘hardness’ after a workout. “He is a great coach, he almost killed me in the last workout”. The training effectiveness is measured by goals reached and training transfer. When you don’t know the goals, plan/program, athlete and context your listed workouts doesn’t mean jack shit.

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