I hope your week is going splendidly! And I know that you’ve been looking forward to taking a nice juicy bite out of our topic for the week!
I wanted to take the time today to explain programming a bit. Specifically in the realm of YOUR training program. Many trainers and coaches will explain that programming is complicated (and it is), but not in the sense that I want to address today. They will sell complicated movements and exercises at an expense to prove their worth, but these things won’t actually achieve any desired results as there is too much variety and not enough focus on any one thing. There is no adaptation being completed from the stress being applied; meaning muscle tissue and strength cannot be increased. I’m sure many of you have heard of the Principle Of Variability, correct? If it’s means are to keep variety in the training protocol to improve muscle tissue size and strength through continued various applied stresses how does my last statement make sense?? In this case it can be complicated, so let me explain. You see what I speak of in the first example is what we call the IG (instagram - but this also includes anything on social media or the “YouTube’s”) training guide. This is named as such because many “fitspiration” people on social media tend to post exercises and workouts they themselves may not even do simply to gain more views on their page to promote their own or their sponsors products. It’s essentially another platform to sell products. What you must be aware of above all is that many trainers and coaches also get sucked into the craze of it all and incorporate these examples into the routines they give their own clients and athletes. Which in turn creates an endless cycle of ongoing movements where no adaptations are being made. There is simply too much variability going on in the training regiment which inhibits us from achieving and maximizing the results we are looking for.
Let me lay this out nice and simple. Now bare with me as I do like using vehicles as references, but they are one of the most universal ways of understanding things as we all have some degree of vehicle experience. Let’s turn back time to when you first learned how to drive. It more than likely took you a few tries to be able to learn to gauge the pedals right so you weren’t giving it too much gas or too little gas. Too much brake or not enough (EEEKK!). Even having to adjust how much to turn the wheel for basic left and right turns, not to mention u-turns. It was all scary and new stuff at first. And when we finally got onto the main road with countless other drivers?? It was a sight for our parents or older siblings to see and laugh at without a doubt. There are many variables to consider within and about the vehicle when learning how to drive. Not to mention highway driving, learning all your road signs, and how to properly utilize our mirrors and adjust to being aware of other drivers especially in blind spots. So it was ideal that the vehicle you chose to learn to drive was not just the vehicle you practiced in every day but also used in the “behind the wheel” test as well. But what if this wasn’t the case? What if on day one I gave you a small compact car, day two I switched you over to a full size manual transmission truck that’s lifted on 40 inch tires, day three was a motorcycle, and day four I showed up in a semi truck. Oh and by the way, we haven’t even gotten on the main roads yet, not to mention a highway. And road signs? Don’t worry those will get figured out at some point, right? WRONG!
There is a pretty large chance that you will fail that test. This is exactly what is happening when too much variability is being added to a training program. No adaptation is taking place. I mean we only changed the vehicle everytime we showed up for a new day of driving school so what’s the big deal? They each possess an engine, all have tires and a steering wheel so you should be successful in that scenario right? Not a chance. The basics have yet to be fully learned and understood before you can begin to make massive changes such as those. The individuals we work with day to day at Primitive Movement are always surprised to see that we start with the absolute basics. We strip all the weight off of their main compound movements (squat, deadlift, glute bridge, bench, hang cleans, etc.) due to the fact that we want to ensure the movements are being performed efficiently and properly before moving onto big weights and fast movements. Proper biomechanics is key when building not just a big strong athlete, but also the individual who craves quality of life in a longevity sense.
Your focus when you’re in and out of the gym training and moving must be mindful and commonsensical. Our bodies need a stable foundation. This means building base strength in our center of gravity (core- abs AND glutes working together), strengthening small stabilizer muscles, strengthening connective tissues, building agonist and antagonistic muscle strength (if the pecs, front delts, and biceps are big and strong then so must the lats, middle and lower traps, and rhomboids be. I’m looking at the fellas on this one), and adding corrective work where needed (fixing imbalances in joints and muscles created from overactivity or inactivity - we all have something) to name a few anatomical and movement necessities. Not to mention the physiological adaptations that must take place: efficient glycogen stores must be established, optimal fat burning, utilizing protein efficiently in recovery and building phases, building efficient transport pathways in our blood for nutrients . Many think that as soon as they start training all is well in fairytale land. Jumping right into advanced movements expecting to be fine (or continue to skip on cleaning up their diet; diet is essential for physiological adaptations to set in). But I’ve seen time and time again these same individuals walk into the gym a few weeks later with various nagging injuries from improper movements being done and no time for adaptations to set. They’ll have various joints aching, muscles strained, and have a decreased drive to workout. Also these individuals will not have lost much weight or gained much muscle mass by this time. This is a cycle we NEED to break.
I am not saying that you must be a professional in knowing exactly how to construct a program. But I’d like you to get an idea as to where to start. Avoid the gimmicks and ask the proper questions to the nearest and dearest fitness professional you know. They are more than likely willing to help if they are passionate about fitness, health, and wellness as we are here at Primitive Movement. Don’t knock the basics, they can take you a long way before making drastic changes. I’ve had countless people achieve amazing results on the most basic of program setups. The movements seemed monotonous with minor tweaks made at appropriate times in the program to keep a high rate of efficiency. But these individuals continued to see great strength and/or size gains (or weight loss gains) week after week. They were just sold this idea that they should be doing something extravagant to see the results they were ALREADY seeing. If you are following a well prescribed program by a trainer or coach (or even your own) then you should see the focus of the program is to bleed the program of results before moving onto a drastic change in the model. This also ensures you are allowing all those physiological adaptations I mentioned earlier to occur. In other words, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
With that being said I’d like to end today with something I learned from countless great coaches, professors, trainers, doctors, and other professionals in our field; KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). This is a universal saying used for many things but in the kinesthetic and health & wellness profession it’s tossed around by the greats who came before us. Listen and rely on the info you receive from the body. It’ll reward you for it.
As always, have a great rest of the day and I look forward to our discussion next week! And stay up to date as we will be adding to this topic as well as nutrition, injury prevention, quality of movement, and many others going forward.
Blessings, Coach Adan