This is a new one!
I was taking a leisurely jog last night to clear my mind when I started to think of program design and a couple of training books I was studying. I think it’s always good to know what your competition or your peers are doing. Whether your professional path is similar or different, growth is growth and education always makes things better.
How is this related to the title of the blog post? Well, my dear Actionauts, I’m about to blow some hot air and tell you about another truth in fitness that too few trainers consider into their program design. And it deals with vacuums!
In my early years in training, before I was certified, I was just doing stuff I picked up in martial arts classes, in terms of conditioning (calisthenics, stretching etc…) and other things I picked up in magazines (don’t give me crap, if you’re a trainer, you probably did it too at some point. Admit it and move on, because you got better, I hope!). In those days, I was not a trainer per se, but would have friends do stuff with me and they liked the way I taught.
When I transitioned into training as a career choice and got certified, I felt prey to the trapped, in-the-box methodologies that IFPA, ACE or NASM would proselytize. Results were always there, and I was diligent, by the book in my approach for various goals. I didn’t like feeling limited in what I should teach when I had more “strings on my bow”, as they say in French, or more tools in the shed. So I combined instinct, common sense and the scientific research that organizations like NASM promote.
Where’s the problem? Simple: the programs taught and prescribed as is for hypertrophy (size), strength, power etc would change so quickly the body would barely have a chance to adapt and then bam! You change a few too many variables. Another thing that was fundamentally wrong is that the programs are designed and instructed as a result of University studies and research where subjects are placed in the ideal conditions to perform the program and generate results. In other words, they were put in a vacuum. And you do not live in one!
WHERE’S THE BEEF?
My beef with such programs is that unless you place everyone in the same vacuum, you will not deliver the results such programs promise. As trainers, we need to make a clear understanding to our clients that unless you have the perfect schedule of sleep, naps, timed nutrition, stress-free environment (from annoyances like traffic, bills, paycuts, layoffs, your neighbor’s lawnmower when your baby’s taking a nap, your stained shirt on your way to a meeting, marital bickering etc…), you have too many variables to factor into your progress, are at least, the rate at which you will progress.
VACUUMS DO WORK (FOR SOME PEOPLE):
Truth is, if you are lucky enough to find that client who can do everything you want them to do, you will get the results at the rate promised. I have one such client whose online business allowed him the freedom to train, eat and sleep when instructed and he saw his body weight jump from 179lb to 206 with minimal fat gains, in about 10 weeks. I see celebrities and their “celebrity trainers” create indirect pressure on “commoners” when they themselves put on massive amounts of rippling muscle in short time (ahem, if you think they take something, they probably do, but then they may not since they do not have your daily worries). If you had all day and a few months, plus a fat paycheck and the possibility to make millions from the incidental stardom you’d get, to just work out and get the body necessary for the role, you probably would get there too.
Everything you do allows you to get fitter and better if properly designed. Don’t believe the workouts you see in magazines as they do not reflect more than 5% of the actual work that’s done. But please understand that no one lives in a vacuum and unless you isolate and eliminate each and every variable out of your life until you find out what doesn’t work, you have to keep playing till you find out what’s best for you. I mentioned that in a previous blog, where knowledge and artistry meet. You can paint by numbers, but you’re not Picasso. I’m no Picasso either, but I’m putting in the time.