The Four Undeniable Facts of Training

May 24, 2017

The Four Undeniable Facts of Training

The internet is full of debate on the best training methods. It can become quite overwhelming! You settle on a training plan, and then you read an article or watch a video and change your mind again. This leads to confusion, chopping and changing training programmes, poor progress and even giving up!

Sometimes we must step back and focus on the undeniable facts. When we do, the overwhelm dissipates and we can concentrate on what matters: making progress.

1. Get Strong

Getting stronger is good.

It doesn’t matter if you are a marathon runner or a powerlifter. Everyone can benefit from being stronger.

Before focusing on sport-specific strength goals, focus on getting strong across the main movement patterns: push, pull, hinge and lower body push (squat).

There are so-called ‘standards’ out there which say that every man/woman should be able to squat X kg – but I don’t subscribe to that because not everyone will have the potential to get there. For example, I’ll never back squat my bodyweight – because I don’t back squat due to lower back issues. Instead, I work on variations like reverse lunges and Bulgarian split squats.

Even if you are just training to be ‘fitter for life’ – being strong matters, so don't neglect it entirely in favour of 'cardio'. Think about it: carrying the shopping home, moving furniture, getting up after a fall…The point is, most people don't get strong across the basic compound movements, because they consider that it isn't relevant. But, even for endurance athletes, being strong is more useful than not being strong.

Mark Rippetoe said “strong people are harder to kill, and more useful in general.” 

2. Get Conditioned

Being conditioned is good.

Strength is important, but focussing only on strength at the expense of being unfit is a mistake. You’ve all seen that dude at the gym who is really strong, but also really fat and gets out of breath walking up stairs. Don’t be that guy.

You need to be fit enough to train properly. If that guy was in better condition, he’d probably be able to lift more! Conditioning makes you stronger. If you aren’t in good enough condition to train at a sufficient level, you won’t make progress.


Beasts take care of strength and conditioning. Remember, in a zombie apocalypse you need to be able to run. That fat-but-strong guy will be the first on the zombie menu! 

 

3. Get Moving 

Moving is good. We are all far too static...sitting at a desk, sitting in the car, sitting on the sofa.

It doesn’t matter too much what kind of movement you choose to do, so long as you do it! Prefer kettlebells to running? – Fine do kettlebells. More of a powerlifting person than a swimmer? – Cool do that. Want to go for a long hike this weekend – great! Get out there!

Does the quality of the movement matter? Yes it does and that’s where technique comes in…

4. Improve Technique

Better technique means more strength in the muscles relevant to the movement. For example – deadlifting with good form will give you a stronger lower back, glutes and hamstrings. Deadlifting with bad form might give you stronger glutes and hamstrings, but an injured back. In turn, having a stronger back means you’ll be better able to lift with good technique in the future.

Technique builds strength which builds technique which builds strength…

So focus on training well and leave your ego at home. I used to do Crossfit. Crossfit rocks, and I miss it. But unfortunately it is no longer for me. Training at a very high intensity means that, as muscles fatigue, technique quality declines and injury risk increases. For me, with my dodgy back, hips and shoulder – that isn’t an option. Instead I focus on what I can do – and I do it well.

Conclusion

Training is simple: Strength. Conditioning. Movement. Technique.

  • Get strong in the four main movement patterns (push, pull, hunge, lower body push)
  • Get conditioned – it’ll help you get even stronger, and survive a zombie apocalypse
  • Move more – whatever your movement of choice, just get it done.
  • Move with good technique – Take your time to move properly, and you’ll be glad you did down the line. Time spent recovering from injury is time wasted.

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