Thursday, March 29, 2012

Training Systems


There are a lot of myths and theories in the training industry and one of them is that this system or that system is the ‘best’. To me, however, the very premise of a "system" is flawed. Each human body is unique and so is its exercise need. Once you try and fit a specific individual into a "system", you are missing the boat. Just a note here for clarity: there is ‘exercise’ and then there is ‘training’. Exercise comprises of things like walking, running, cycling, weight lifting and workout videos, while training is a specific set of progressions designed to get you to a specific goal. 
P90X, Crossfit, and all of the other ‘exercise’ systems are not training. They are moving the body in order to get in better shape. Where the problem comes in is when we have non-experienced or under-qualified trainers implementing systems that are generic in nature and calling them personal training.  Let's get this straight once and for all. If the program is not customized for the individual, it is guided exercise and nothing more. If your program did not start with a physical assessment and a fitness evaluation and, if it does not follow scheduled progressions according to your individual adaptation to that program, then it is not proper training.
There is no one system that fits everyone. There is no one miracle formula that, when followed, will fix everyone and everything.  I am sure some “Crossfit is Life” people will jump up and down with rage when reading this, but it is what it is. It is a system, and, in my opinion, a very flawed one, but that is another debate.
This post is not designed to bash one or another "system", but instead to demonstrate that there is no one system that works for everyone. There can't be. All systems have their pros and cons. Some are worse than others, but they are all flawed in some way.
The basic principals of exercise are as follows: specificity, frequency, intensity, and duration. All of these principals need to be adjusted based on the individual and cannot be put into a "one system fits all" category. 
If you are interested in exercise, that is fantastic and the best thing you can do for yourself. Be certain, though, to listen to your body and be sure that you are doing things the right way and within your limitations. Above all, if you are going to enlist the help of a fitness professional, then make sure you know their qualifications and ask smart questions. Do some research and go into your consultation with some knowledge of what to expect. In any business there are good and bad eggs. If there is one cure-all miracle system being pitched, then simply thank them for their time and keep shopping!

~ Yoshia

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that although your post claims to be "not designed to bash one or another system" - you hit up CF with several of your comments. Being someone who regularily attends CF but also mixes in a lot of other exercise, I find this sad and uninformed.

~Guy said...

What is interesting is that as soon as Crossfit is mentioned (albeit briefly) in a less than positive light, there are devotees that immediately get defensive.

There is nothing new or revolutionary about Crossfit, except for its packaging/marketing (which, given it's success, is admirable) and the extraordinarily high injury rates that continue to be ignored by its participants.

Great article, Yoshia.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't call myself a CF "devotee" Guy, nor have I ignored the injury rates - which is why I sought out a CF gym with actual licenced trainers who have many of the things Yoshia mentioned above. I only made the comment as there are so many "systems" of exercise out there, but found it interesting that only CF and P90X were singled out.

Any sport, exercise regime, etc, has associated risk when not done properly or when done above one's ability. The bulk of this article I agree with and I think the more awareness, the better. Seeing a trainer who lacks the things Yoshia mentioned and only has a quick-fix cert (like bcrpa) can certainly lead to disaster, and should cause alarm.

Unknown said...

Crossfitt and p90 x were singled out because they are well known and well marketed just as you posted that a "quick fix bcrpa cert" instead of cpt or one of the other hundred certs you can get to get you point across. The point of the post is that any "one size fits all" system is flawed in its core. I am not surprised for a moment to have a comment posted by a person who attends Crossfitt. The point of the article is to dissociate training and exercise. Crossfitt is exercise. True training was described in the post. As uninformed as someone may think I am I keep my ears and eyes open to all new forms of exercise, but tend to rely on my 12 years of experience and degree in Kin and several others certs to guide my thoughts and exercise based opinions. Agree or disagree is anyones right and I welcome their comments. Debating the merits of any one system is not something I am going to spend a lot of time on.

~Yoshia

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm a tad confused Yoshia as with my personal experience at CF, the items you mentioned as "training" were done. You wrote that "if your program did not start with a physical assessment and a fitness evaluation and, if it does not follow scheduled progressions according to your individual adaptation to that program, then it is not proper training." At the CF gym I attend, all those were done, and continue to be done. Modificiations and adaptations to exercies are done on a daily basis so that it's not a "1 workout fits all" sort of thing. I'm not questioning your credentials, and perhaps some other gyms use very flawed techniques (as you mentioned "bad eggs") - I took Kin (etc) aswell and have years of experience. I just felt that CF as a whole was being lumped into one category, whereas not all gyms are the same. Anyways, no need to beat a dead horse - just my thoughts.

Unknown said...

I am glad to hear that you are a kinesiologist, then this will make sense to you. A physical assessment includes a biomechanical and musculoskeletal evaluation that identifies specific areas of weakness and muscular imbalance. These areas are then addressed in proper training. If you CF gym did that then they are a cut above the rest and kudos to them. Again the post is intended to identify the flaw in systems. Crossfitt is a system. It can be implemented well, which it sounds like it is being done at the gym you attend, and it can be done poorly, but it is still a system and does not take the place of proper training. A good Kin or exercise specialist should be designing customized programs for their customers and not following a system.

Glad to hear your gym is doing a good job with Crossfitt.

~Yoshia

Anonymous said...

Agreed. i think the clarification of the physical assessment (including the biomechanical and musculoskeletal evaluation) is key. Different gyms have very different "definitions" of what a physical assessment may look like. Anyways - well written, thanks Yoshia.