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Dogma and Training Advice

Dogma and Training Advice

I have come to the conclusion that weight training is either one of the simplest things in the world, or the most complicated. Developing impressive strength and muscular development seems to be a matter of simply stressing the muscle with increased loads in order to force them to respond with greater strength and muscular development and then feeding them with the appropriate nutrition.

On the other hand, if the average trainee begins reading just sampling of the available literature available on strength training, they will immediately see differing opinions, conflicts and dogmatic statements, which can cause them to lose faith in their own training program. Doubt, confusion and frustration can wreak havoc on your progress. It is vitally important that you have confidence in your program even if it is not quite where you want it to be. Stick with the fundamentals of resistance training and combine that with consistent goal setting and record keeping, and you will be on your way to realizing your maximum strength and development potential. Along the way, you can experiment and add some variety to your training plan. I am constantly “tinkering” with and fine-tuning my training regime, but I never stray from the fundamentals.

When I began lifting weights at age 14, which was 1979; the main problem was finding information. There were very few books in those days, retail stores did not sell bodybuilding magazines and the internet was still 15 years away. Back then you learned as much as you could from those who had gone before you and figured out how to apply it into your own training. Many times this was done by trial and error.

Today there seems to be too much information. I believe one of the most important things is to have CONFIDENCE in your training and nutritional programs. If you lack this confidence, then you will also be second-guessing yourself, you will hold back in your efforts and you will constantly be changing your program as you read and hear about new and better programs. You have to stay with the basics of one program long enough to realize the long-term results. An “average” program that is done consistently and with enthusiasm is FAR BETTER than an outstanding program that is done intermittently and with hesitation.

There are many great training and nutritional programs available-virtually all are effective to some degree or another. Bodybuilding is a much an ART as it is a science. We can use science to explain certain things and to fine tune our training, but I think its a gross error to try and use scientific research to justify a certain person’s training principles as “superior”. Different people require different things ( I have always had a hunch that a lot of this was psychological–but then again we all have individual mental parameters)

It is often brought up on message boards that a person can be very knowledgeable about training even if they have limited personal strength and development. I agree that they can have the knowledge, but they also need the wisdom and experiences of having been in the trenches themselves. People will often point out that there have been several great coaches in the NBA, who were not very good players themselves. This is certainly true, but you can search the world over and you will find very few good coaches-of any kind who did not pay their dues by working their way up the ranks. There are many stories of coaches who were terrible players, but loved the game and they started volunteer coaching at a local high school-with no pay and then learned and perfected their knowledge and eventually fielded winning teams and then they moved on to the next level and so on until they reached the top.

You could go to any college and university in the nation and find all kinds of professors with MBA’s and PhD’s in business who know “business” inside and out–but if they have never run a business and faced all of the thousands of challenges that a businessman faces, then they are not qualified to advise those who seek to become successful in business.

People, especially those who are in teaching or advising roles will tend to emphasize or promote that which they are very good at and tend to downplay that which they are not good at-its human nature and just about all of us do it, whether we intend to or not.

With the advent of the internet, there are many, many self-acclaimed gurus-and its often hard to separate them from the legitimate folks who want to help others. Use the internet and various sources as a 'buffet" taking information that you need-applying to your training-keeping written records and using yourself as your own experiment and then deciding whether to keep or discard this bit of wisdom. You will find the best trainers are NOT dogmatic about their programs-they will seldom if ever say-“This is the best or only way to train, eat, etc” People who say that tend to have an ego or financial angle and usually both. When they say “never” or “always” it tends to be about things that are pretty obvious. If I posted a thread and said something like “Never eat broken glass before or after a workout”, you would all say, “Um, Keith, that is pretty obvious”-my point exactly.

I hope some of this made some sense.

“The best training advice always comes from the pages of my own personal training journal”

keith wassung

Keith,

I agree with what you said. I am currently in transition from being a person that followed different guru programs to someone that writes his own programs.

I have often wondered if a guru’s program is necessarilly any better than one I write for myself.

Will I make faster gains with the guru’s program or will the body generally gain at the same rate as long as a program is sound.

I think to a certain extent, following a guru’s cookie cutter program is a learning tool because one often ends up tweaking a routine to suit their own individual needs.

This tweaking eventually can lead to the full independence of making one’s own strength program.

I got tired of all the conflicting information and information overload, so I decided to start doing my own thing.

I am a little nervous to be “on my own now”, but this is the only way I will really learn.

Self Discovery is the very essence of bodybuilding.

Keith, you’re so inspirationnal you should have your own column here. I’m really impressed with the passion it takes for a guy with your knowledge and experience to come and encourage newbies and ironheads alike out of kindness. Takes a great man…

And a great writer too. You touched a nerve with that last article. As a young B.sc in kinesiology, I’ve got my head cramed with knowledge, and am in the process of adding more. But try as I might, I come here and read an article and say:“this is just what I need” I think that as a beginner in the iron coaching field, I need perspective and experience. Too often I hit myself on the head and wonder why I didn’t think of that myself, or just sooner.

As a martial artist, I’m very conscious of the ‘mastering the basics’ aspect of what you do, be it in the dojo, in the gym, or anywhere else art blends with science. Thanks for the reminder on that great piece of advice, and showing me that it’s not limited to ma.

[quote]Keith Wassung wrote:
Dogma and Training Advice

I have come to the conclusion that weight training is either one of the simplest things in the world, or the most complicated. Developing impressive strength and muscular development seems to be a matter of simply stressing the muscle with increased loads in order to force them to respond with greater strength and muscular development and then feeding them with the appropriate nutrition.

On the other hand, if the average trainee begins reading just sampling of the available literature available on strength training, they will immediately see differing opinions, conflicts and dogmatic statements, which can cause them to lose faith in their own training program. Doubt, confusion and frustration can wreak havoc on your progress. It is vitally important that you have confidence in your program even if it is not quite where you want it to be. Stick with the fundamentals of resistance training and combine that with consistent goal setting and record keeping, and you will be on your way to realizing your maximum strength and development potential. Along the way, you can experiment and add some variety to your training plan. I am constantly “tinkering” with and fine-tuning my training regime, but I never stray from the fundamentals.

When I began lifting weights at age 14, which was 1979; the main problem was finding information. There were very few books in those days, retail stores did not sell bodybuilding magazines and the internet was still 15 years away. Back then you learned as much as you could from those who had gone before you and figured out how to apply it into your own training. Many times this was done by trial and error.

Today there seems to be too much information. I believe one of the most important things is to have CONFIDENCE in your training and nutritional programs. If you lack this confidence, then you will also be second-guessing yourself, you will hold back in your efforts and you will constantly be changing your program as you read and hear about new and better programs. You have to stay with the basics of one program long enough to realize the long-term results. An “average” program that is done consistently and with enthusiasm is FAR BETTER than an outstanding program that is done intermittently and with hesitation.

There are many great training and nutritional programs available-virtually all are effective to some degree or another. Bodybuilding is a much an ART as it is a science. We can use science to explain certain things and to fine tune our training, but I think its a gross error to try and use scientific research to justify a certain person’s training principles as “superior”. Different people require different things ( I have always had a hunch that a lot of this was psychological–but then again we all have individual mental parameters)

It is often brought up on message boards that a person can be very knowledgeable about training even if they have limited personal strength and development. I agree that they can have the knowledge, but they also need the wisdom and experiences of having been in the trenches themselves. People will often point out that there have been several great coaches in the NBA, who were not very good players themselves. This is certainly true, but you can search the world over and you will find very few good coaches-of any kind who did not pay their dues by working their way up the ranks. There are many stories of coaches who were terrible players, but loved the game and they started volunteer coaching at a local high school-with no pay and then learned and perfected their knowledge and eventually fielded winning teams and then they moved on to the next level and so on until they reached the top.

You could go to any college and university in the nation and find all kinds of professors with MBA’s and PhD’s in business who know “business” inside and out–but if they have never run a business and faced all of the thousands of challenges that a businessman faces, then they are not qualified to advise those who seek to become successful in business.

People, especially those who are in teaching or advising roles will tend to emphasize or promote that which they are very good at and tend to downplay that which they are not good at-its human nature and just about all of us do it, whether we intend to or not.

With the advent of the internet, there are many, many self-acclaimed gurus-and its often hard to separate them from the legitimate folks who want to help others. Use the internet and various sources as a 'buffet" taking information that you need-applying to your training-keeping written records and using yourself as your own experiment and then deciding whether to keep or discard this bit of wisdom. You will find the best trainers are NOT dogmatic about their programs-they will seldom if ever say-“This is the best or only way to train, eat, etc” People who say that tend to have an ego or financial angle and usually both. When they say “never” or “always” it tends to be about things that are pretty obvious. If I posted a thread and said something like “Never eat broken glass before or after a workout”, you would all say, “Um, Keith, that is pretty obvious”-my point exactly.

I hope some of this made some sense.

“The best training advice always comes from the pages of my own personal training journal”

keith wassung
[/quote]

Very well said Keith-I always enjoy your posts and sit at my desk saying-I should have written that. I think because lifting involves hard physical work-people think it must be accompained by a confusing process of thought and planning-nothing could be further from the truth.

My best official lifts are 810 534 and 750-and I have also trained strongman for two years-that being said-although I tinker like Keith says -with my program-usually after watching something like Sven Karlsens Training DVD etc-I seldom vary from the basics-and I know that when I don’t make progress-everything else associated with a workout-feeling tired, pumped, if I puked-ie strongman medley training…nothing really mattered unless I made progress-ie I lifted a bit more weight-in a multi-joint exercise-with the same form grip-sans support gear-it is really that simple.

Taken from the training philosophy of so many strongmen and writers - Mcallum / Leistner / Simmons / Blakely / MCormick / Kuc / Bryant/

Lets bump this up so others have a chance to read it!

Another great post, Keith. I know too many people who postponed even starting a training program for weeks at a time cause they’re sorting through the literature and deciding on the ‘perfect’ one. A little ridiculous. Lift some damn weights!

I second the thought that you need your own column Keith! Great stuff as usual and a reminder that being in the gym and working hard is the most important thing, not an exact set/rep scheme or whatever.

The problem is that every one has “The BEST was to train!”

I have seen all of these methods touted as THE BEST way to train for maximal gains.

  • 2 day split - 1 heavy and light day each of upper and lower

  • 3 days of full body

  • 1 day per body part, 5 days a week training. rest 1 week in between body parts

  • Static contractions - using no weight, simply push as hard as possible in a zero contraction… rest 2 TO 3 WEEKS in between sessions.

How can they all be THE BEST, if in fact any of them are?

[quote]Lonnie123 wrote:
The problem is that every one has “The BEST was to train!”

I have seen all of these methods touted as THE BEST way to train for maximal gains.

  • 2 day split - 1 heavy and light day each of upper and lower

  • 3 days of full body

  • 1 day per body part, 5 days a week training. rest 1 week in between body parts

  • Static contractions - using no weight, simply push as hard as possible in a zero contraction… rest 2 TO 3 WEEKS in between sessions.

How can they all be THE BEST, if in fact any of them are?[/quote]

They are all the best way because you can’t do the same thing forever. So do one method for 4-6 weeks then change to another, then the other! That way, they will all be the best way for the time you are using those methods!

Well said Keith and very thoughtful post…

[quote]Keith Wassung wrote:
Dogma and Training Advice

I have come to the conclusion that weight training is either one of the simplest things in the world, or the most complicated. Developing impressive strength and muscular development seems to be a matter of simply stressing the muscle with increased loads in order to force them to respond with greater strength and muscular development and then feeding them with the appropriate nutrition.

On the other hand, if the average trainee begins reading just sampling of the available literature available on strength training, they will immediately see differing opinions, conflicts and dogmatic statements, which can cause them to lose faith in their own training program. Doubt, confusion and frustration can wreak havoc on your progress. It is vitally important that you have confidence in your program even if it is not quite where you want it to be. Stick with the fundamentals of resistance training and combine that with consistent goal setting and record keeping, and you will be on your way to realizing your maximum strength and development potential. Along the way, you can experiment and add some variety to your training plan. I am constantly “tinkering” with and fine-tuning my training regime, but I never stray from the fundamentals.

When I began lifting weights at age 14, which was 1979; the main problem was finding information. There were very few books in those days, retail stores did not sell bodybuilding magazines and the internet was still 15 years away. Back then you learned as much as you could from those who had gone before you and figured out how to apply it into your own training. Many times this was done by trial and error.

Today there seems to be too much information. I believe one of the most important things is to have CONFIDENCE in your training and nutritional programs. If you lack this confidence, then you will also be second-guessing yourself, you will hold back in your efforts and you will constantly be changing your program as you read and hear about new and better programs. You have to stay with the basics of one program long enough to realize the long-term results. An “average” program that is done consistently and with enthusiasm is FAR BETTER than an outstanding program that is done intermittently and with hesitation.

There are many great training and nutritional programs available-virtually all are effective to some degree or another. Bodybuilding is a much an ART as it is a science. We can use science to explain certain things and to fine tune our training, but I think its a gross error to try and use scientific research to justify a certain person’s training principles as “superior”. Different people require different things ( I have always had a hunch that a lot of this was psychological–but then again we all have individual mental parameters)

It is often brought up on message boards that a person can be very knowledgeable about training even if they have limited personal strength and development. I agree that they can have the knowledge, but they also need the wisdom and experiences of having been in the trenches themselves. People will often point out that there have been several great coaches in the NBA, who were not very good players themselves. This is certainly true, but you can search the world over and you will find very few good coaches-of any kind who did not pay their dues by working their way up the ranks. There are many stories of coaches who were terrible players, but loved the game and they started volunteer coaching at a local high school-with no pay and then learned and perfected their knowledge and eventually fielded winning teams and then they moved on to the next level and so on until they reached the top.

You could go to any college and university in the nation and find all kinds of professors with MBA’s and PhD’s in business who know “business” inside and out–but if they have never run a business and faced all of the thousands of challenges that a businessman faces, then they are not qualified to advise those who seek to become successful in business.

People, especially those who are in teaching or advising roles will tend to emphasize or promote that which they are very good at and tend to downplay that which they are not good at-its human nature and just about all of us do it, whether we intend to or not.

With the advent of the internet, there are many, many self-acclaimed gurus-and its often hard to separate them from the legitimate folks who want to help others. Use the internet and various sources as a 'buffet" taking information that you need-applying to your training-keeping written records and using yourself as your own experiment and then deciding whether to keep or discard this bit of wisdom. You will find the best trainers are NOT dogmatic about their programs-they will seldom if ever say-“This is the best or only way to train, eat, etc” People who say that tend to have an ego or financial angle and usually both. When they say “never” or “always” it tends to be about things that are pretty obvious. If I posted a thread and said something like “Never eat broken glass before or after a workout”, you would all say, “Um, Keith, that is pretty obvious”-my point exactly.

I hope some of this made some sense.

“The best training advice always comes from the pages of my own personal training journal”

keith wassung
[/quote]

Keith,

Man, that … was … awesome. That may be the best post I have ever seen on T-Nation, or anywhere for that matter. You should indeed be authoring here, and everyone here needs to read what you wrote.

Thanks for that,
Bastard!

I appreciate the very kind comments.

I would like to hear some feedback/comments about what I said regarding my theory that the reason different people respond to different training programs may in fact be as much psychological as it is physiological.

We used to run wind sprints at the end of football practice in high school. I LOVED it when the coaches would say, ok we are doing 10 sprints today, or we are doing 4 more, ie, that gave me a number to shoot at…I HATED it when they would have us run and would not tell us how many we had left-and it always affected my performance.

I think that is why I have always been a “numbers” guy in the gym-I have thrived on the total tonnage/workload concept, and have not done as well on other protocols-I think it is largely in my head and how I am wired as opposed my physical profile.

Just a theory…anyone else

Keith:

You hit it out of the park, again. Very nice post!

I tend to think that what ever the endeavor the “genius” is always found in the basics.

I wrestled in High School. While I was only average we had on the team a kid that used to go to the States each year, won it once. This kid was no smarter, stronger or in better shape than I was. However, he had one important factor in his favor; he mastered the basics!

He had about three moves that were perfect. The others were no better than mine. He had an incredible double leg take down, a rock solid cradle that no one could escape from. And one escape (the stand up) from the bottom which no one could stop. That was it!

If you look at the best of the best in any sport, most have simply mastered the basics. Don’t get me wrong that is not easy, but it’s also not rocket science.

Point being, if you master the basics in this game (weights) you will have the same results. I get a kick out of the gurus who want you to weigh food and count every single carb etc. All that will do is burn you out. Who wants to live that way?

The same goes for those who want you to count seconds on the concentric and eccentric. “four seconds up two second pause and 6 seconds down.” I just read it and laugh. Ever try doing that stuff over a period of several months? I would rather be a skinny geek than submit to that bull.

The basics work!

  1. Eat plenty of good food

  2. Train multiple times per week to less than failure. Change your routine every 6 to 8 weeks.

  3. Sleep 8+ hours per day.

  4. Go out and buy new shirts :slight_smile:

Again, great post Keith!

[quote]Keith Wassung wrote:
I appreciate the very kind comments.

I would like to hear some feedback/comments about what I said regarding my theory that the reason different people respond to different training programs may in fact be as much psychological as it is physiological.

We used to run wind sprints at the end of football practice in high school. I LOVED it when the coaches would say, ok we are doing 10 sprints today, or we are doing 4 more, ie, that gave me a number to shoot at…I HATED it when they would have us run and would not tell us how many we had left-and it always affected my performance.

I think that is why I have always been a “numbers” guy in the gym-I have thrived on the total tonnage/workload concept, and have not done as well on other protocols-I think it is largely in my head and how I am wired as opposed my physical profile.

Just a theory…anyone else

[/quote]

I know Louie Simmons has stated many times that a persons’ personality affects how they will repond to training-ie specificlaly Louie has stated-an extrovert needs far more exercises than an introvert. I found that true for me and in other high level strength athletes I have known.

In sports we often hear talk of an athlete’s performance on the day, being “in the zone” etc. Yet we seldom read of the psychological side of weight training. If a bodybuilder fails to improve over a number of sessions he will invariably look for an extrinsic reason, his nutrition or the programme sets , rest etc. However confidence or expectation of making an improvement surely plays a large part. If you train alongside a good athlete it makes you train harder, the bar is raised you are motivated by your partner and likely will perform well.

However once you have trained with that athlete for a month it becomes the normal and is no longer such a stimulus. Similarly with progammes if you find one which matches your personality and needs it will doubtless show improvements for a few months but is unlikely to retain that psychological effect for ever. SO yes I agree that the psychological aspect of different programmes is undervalued.

Ain’t that just like life. All simple on the crust and mucky on the inside. :-). The how is not so difficult, it’s the why. Which then leads to new “how’s”. Take heart, there are, as always, some fundamental truths that never die. But then there is always a new way to apply said truth. In short, I hear ya, bro.

best,
DH

Keith, great post, you really should write a book of your training experiences. You inspired me to start working on overhead presses in a serious manner.

As far a your comment on getting your head wrapped around a style or method of training, you have a point. As I have gotten older I respond more to goal setting,(the goal of simply moving more weight) a long term goal broken down into weekly or monthly goals on a few basic core moves as the core moves don’t change. Keep it simple stupid, works better for me, and the more complicated, the less motivated I become. I want to “enjoy” my workouts without doing complicated math formulas so to speak. Again thanks, always look foreward to your articles.

It is funny that wrestling was mentioned, as that is exactly what got me to thinking about and writing this point. When I was a freshman in high school, we had two coaches-the head coach was a lightweight wrestler, very technical in nature and the assistant coach was over 200lbs. The first two years on the team we spent most of the time drilling all types of moves and then putting them into practice with actual wrestling. The heavier guys did not do too well those first two years.

After the second year it was decided that we would warm-up and do conditioning as a team, but then the head coach would work with the lighter classes and the assistant coach would work with the heavier classes. On our first day, the assistant coach told us that each of us would master one takedown, one escape, one reversal and one riding/pinning move. Each of us would master a slightly different repertoire of moves, based on our body structure and strengths. We also learned every possible variation from those basic moves.

We spent most of our training time engaging in wrestling, rather than drilling. The previous year none of us has winning records, following our third year, we all had winning records, and three out of five went to state. The following year we all went to state. I believe the difference was the mastery of the basics.

I have been meaning to start a high school wrestling thread-I can remember having a dual at 7pm on a school night and after school was out, our two lightest wrestlers, the 98 and 105lber were still 3-4 lbs overweight so they had to put on the plastic suits and go to the boiler room and jump rope until they made weight-this usually took about 3 hours and they had hardly eaten anything in the previous 24 hours.

The heavyweights ( including me) wanted to offer encouragement and help to our teammates, so after school we would drive to Arby?s and get a sack of bacon/cheddar. Roast beef sandwiches and then go to the boiler room and sit on folding chairs and offer encouragement to them on while we ate 4-5 sandwiches each along with curly fries.

Keith,

Good points. And they are all very true. I’ve always used the philosophy of, “opinions are like assholes”. It’s forced me to try things out for myself. If they do not work. I will know it!!!

OD