What is the better aircraft, a 747 Jumbo Jet, an FA-18, or a single prop piper cub? The answer would have to depend on the intended purpose. A Jumbo Jet is great for transporting a large number of passengers across the Atlantic Ocean, but would be lousy at crop dusting in Nebraska. The piper cub is ideal for dusting crops, but would probably not last long in an aerial battle against hostile MIGS. Even though each of these planes has completely different designs and purposes, they all fly because they are designed to comply with the principles of aerodynamics. A plane (or a pilot) that violates the principles of aerodynamics will not fly or at best will not fly for very long.
The same is true for weight training and fitness programs. The ones that are effective all have common foundations and principles, even though they may appear completely different. There are countless numbers of routines and programs to choose from and this often creates confusion among lifters. A common mistake that I see is trainees constantly in search of a new program, thinking that they are missing something. This creates doubt in the mind of the lifter and adversely affects their progress. You must give ANY program a certain length of time in order to achieve progress. An average program that is performed with consistency and determination is FAR SUPERIOR to the best program that is done intermittently and with doubt. The selection of a training program must also reflect the goals and objectives of the lifter. Whenever I am asked a question such as “What’s a good program or what’s a good exercise”? My standard response is to ask “What are you trying to accomplish with this program/exercise?” and it’s rare that I get anything more than a vague reply. The more specific you are with your training goals the easier it will be to identify the path to their achievement.
I believe that weight training is either one of the simplest things in the world, or the most complicated. Developing increased 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. On the other hand, if the average trainee begins reading just a sampling of the available literature available on strength training, they will immediately see differing opinions, conflicts and dogmatic statements, which can cause them to second-guess 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 where you want it to be. Stick with the fundamentals, ie compound movements done with near perfect form in progressive fashion. Ensure you have proper rest and nutrition along 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.
There are approximately 17,000 medical or science journals published in the world and new ones are added each day. A search of the Library of Congress reveals over 35,000 published books on the subject of strength training. Please keep in mind that “medical research” is inherently biased in that the persons conducting the test almost invariably have some type of interest in the results. You could make just about any statement regarding health and or physical development and it is likely you can find some published studies to support your position. I have seen published studies from years back that show that cigarette smoking increases a person’s health and longevity.
Another example of skewered medical research occurred about 15 years ago when it was widely publicized that a study proved that taking one aspirin a day would reduce the risk of heart attacks. A follow-up study by the British Physicians Association revealed three interesting things that had not been reported (1) The study was essentially a mail-in survey done on white, male doctors (2) The study only showed that an aspirin a day would prevent a second heart attack and (3) The aspirin used was buffered aspirin, that is coated with magnesium, a valuable mineral who’s deficiency is often associated with heart disease, in other words, the magnesium was responsible for any cardiovascular benefit not the drug. Despite the reports risks associated with chronic aspirin use, such as bleeding, increase stroke and male sterility, the number one use of aspirin in the United States is now for prevention of heart attacks. This does not mean that all research is suspect, but it is simply not the only source of information. I would suggest that anyone who is serious about their training should spend a few hours reading up on basic physiology with any good college level anatomy and physiology text such as Guytons Anatomy and Physiology, or Marieb’s Essentials of Physiology. This will enable you to sort through and discern much of the research you read.
Weight training is a much of an art as it is a science. I have always found that the best training information in the world can be found between the pages of my own workout journal and I am sure you will find this to be true as well.