Saturday, June 14, 2014


I can’t count how many times I have seen someone post their program online seeking some sort of rating or evaluation.  It’s probably one of the most common recurring trends for internet fitness sites, along with “rate my diet”, form checks, and the ever popular “are these numbers good” requests.  Amazingly, despite the popularity of such ponderings, this rating seeking is generally of no value, and serves as a waste of time for all parties involved.

Training by democracy is a terrible approach to achieving greatness, for by sheer statistically reality, the majority of those viewing, rating, and advising you on your training will at best be mediocre, if not worse.  When you open yourself to advisement and rating from the masses, the signal to noise ratio becomes incredibly poor, and the difficulty of sorting the good advice from the waste is immense.  For those that lack the ability to make this distinction, the possibly exists that they will be led astray due to possibly well meaning but wholly incorrect advice received from some faceless internet denizen.  For those that have the ability to know the crap from the gold, there is no need to post their routine for critique in the first place, as they should have a firm understanding of what they need to do and what makes them bigger and stronger.

He wasn't asking his troops for approval of his plan here

This is why the notion of creating your own routine and then posting it for external evaluation becomes laughable.  One must question who is this mysterious trainee that is so well versed in lifting that they possess the capability to design a routine that will be more effective for them than the variety of pre-built ones already available yet in the same capacity lacks the critical thinking and awareness necessary to be able to determine the worth of their final product?  If one necessitates external evaluation, they are not in a position wherein they should be designing their own training.

What we have at play here is a variety of themes I have noted in the past, with the most prevalent one being the absolute and total fear of failure, along with the transference of guilt and responsibility.  A trainee refuses to ever encounter any degree of failure in their training, in doing so refusing to acknowledge the significant degree of learning that occurs through failure, due to their fear of ever spending any time not making the absolute best most optimal gains possible.  It is because of this that, rather than design a routine, try it out, and tweak it as they go, they spend days, if not months trying to troubleshoot and craft the most absolute program possible.  Here we are ignoring the maxim that a decent plan violently executed in the present is far more valuable than a perfect plan in the future.  Additionally though, by seeking the validation of external sources rather than internal, the trainee has afforded themselves some manner of “ego insurance”, such that, if they DO still manage to fail in their endeavors, the blame is entirely absolved from self and instead squarely placed upon everyone else involved.  It is not THEIR fault the program didn’t work, but instead the fault of all those other people that gave the trainee advice, tweaks, and approval.  This is a surefire way to never encounter any manner of cognitive dissonance and destruction of ego, but a manner of getting bigger and stronger it is not.

When we trust other people with our safety and progress, we put ourselves in danger

Do not misconstrue this to be an argument in opposition of self created routines and training protocols that are individualized to the needs of the user.  I honestly think this is incredibly valuable, and that any trainee that wishes to bridge the gap from recreational lifter to something of greatness will need to one day make this transition.  The cookie-cutter, one size fits all routines available in print media, oral tradition and throughout the internet are a valuable building block to learn the basics and get a solid understanding of fundamentals, but will eventually falter due to their static and unfluid nature.  However, it is because of this shortcoming that the notion of having your routine evaluated by an external agency once again becomes an exercise in futility, for a routine will rarely be able to be summarized within a 1 page laundry list of sets and reps.  An actual “program”, by nature of the word and its intent, is going to constantly be in flux in order to fit the needs of the user.  It will include some manner of periodization, progression, regulation, and adaptation as strengths and weaknesses change.  For me to have a program listed where I say that I do 5 sets of 10 reps of squats is disingenuous, for though it may be true that at this exact moment in time this is what I do, the reality is that, as soon as this does not adequately address my needs, this will change.  With me being the best judge of my own ability, limitations, and goals, there is no way any other external agent could possibly know the right advice for me to progress, nor could I possibly accurate represent exactly how I intend to train with a single momentary snapshot of the present.

It is because of my own unique experience that, additionally, I as an outside observer lack the ability to proper advice any other trainee on their routine in general, and could only in turn provide very specific and limited advice.  By at least possessing this recognition of my own limitations as an adviser, I do not contribute when asked to evaluate a routine, but others who simply assume that their own unique experience directly maps onto all other humans with no modifications will evaluate a program with a bias toward the self.  This is why, regardless of who designed the program or how effective it is, every program is considered “garbage” when it is presented for evaluation.  Someone will inevitably claim that 3x5 is too little volume, or too much volume, or has no periodization, or any of the other myriad of other critiques easily available for taking simple snipping potshots from the safety that the anonymity affords.  A program uniquely designed by Sheiko, or Simmons, or Meadows, or any of the other well established and incredibly successful trainers available for a specific individual, posted for the scrutiny of the internet, would never survive its first day of observation due to the fact that it was not similar enough to Stronglifts 5x5.  Trainees seek to justify their choices and decisions in training by rallying against anything that is in opposition to how they train, and attempting to sway all others to their method.  And since the majority of trainees in turn also rarely meet success, to seek their advice and approval is to in turn emulate their outcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment