Friday, July 20, 2007

A follow up to the Michael Boyle article...

After reading through the article a few more time and reading the discussion that followed on T-Nation I have a few points to add to the discussion.

Volume - Boyle alludes to the fact that most routines include too much volume and I agree. Some people went nuts but as I am more convinced that reading comprehension is at a very low level for some people it seems people are not getting the point.
The point is that for basic STRENGTH training needs a low volume is all that is required. Note that I emphasize strength training because people are trying to use strength training for conditioning - and they need to stop it!

One of my favorite sayings is "I am after results - not a workout." Strength training is about getting stronger - Period. And I prefer to find a "minimal" level of time and work to accomplish this. "To eliminate the excess" as Bruce Lee said - So I Squat, I Bench, and I Deadlift.
My only variety is in adding jumpstretch bands and manipulating intensity and total # of reps. And I rest a LOT more than I used to - as the weight gets heavy you need to rest more.

So people get confused because they want to leave the gym having had a "workout" - get over it if Strength is your goal. 2x5, 3x3, 6x1 can and should form the base of a strength training program. 5x5 is as high as I would go on volume.

Later in the article Boyle points to the fact that work capacity is where "conditioning" should be focused. And I agree. Kettlebell, sprints, intervals, jumprope, burpee (and other bodyweight drills), and sport skill drills can be mixed as needed to address conditioning and the need to have experienced a "work out". Also of note here is that "Sport Specific" conditioning can and should refer to "work capacity" training made specific to the work:rest ratio of the goal activity. Period.
The weight room is not for "conditioning".

The exception to this rant - Kettlebell, barbell and bodyweight combos for fat loss - you can create combos with "lighter" weight and little rest that are very effective for weight loss (see Cosgrove, Ballentine etc... for details) - BUT these are not strength training - they are weight loss combos - BIG difference.

My solution - focus on the big 3 (squat, bench, deadlift) for strength and then focus on KB swings, snatches, high pulls for conditioning. That's it.

Abdominal issues:
McGill is continuing to gain popularity - This is a good thing!
Boyle now likes the Full Contact Twist (or variations there of) and didn't even know it. See Pavel's Bullet Proof Abs for details.
Planks, roll-outs (performed correctly) and Full contact twist - look no further when combined with your squatting and deadlifting.
And further confirmation that the roll of the "Core" is to prevent rotation and movement - NOT produce it.

And just as Gray Cook voiced frustration with the "functional training" crowd - Coach Boyle does the same and for pretty much exactly the same reasons - 1) light weights waved around in anything but "functional" patterns and 2) a lack of actual strength training.
Somewhere along the way we forgot that strength is a good thing - As long as movement skill is maintained and/or enhanced.

Great stuff...


Geoff Neupert said...

Great post. Sounds somewhat familiar. See my blog today? Coming from a different place though.

Here's a question for you though: How about this for the function of the core: 1. Produce non-compressible cyclinder to protect the spine against external load; 2. TRANSMIT force via rotation, etc.


Mark Reifkind said...

one thing to remember as well. the best way to increase strength is to lift what wsb would call max effort. you will note that on max days volume is very low-3-9 total reps at best- because it has to eh?
the volume is only high on dynamic day and that necessity is controversial.
if one were to 'cut to the chase' and just do the higher intensity stuff- and still recover- they would gain very well with less total 'exposure' to the breakdown that can come with high loads.

brett your current routine is a good example of this,imo.

Guarden said...

Nice points Brett.
How do find the oldtime-exotic exercises capable of making you very strong, such as the 2-Hands Anyhow?

Mike T Nelson said...

Excellent post! Nice work on the squats also below!

Mike N

Brett Jones said...

Thanks Geoff,
I like #1 of your core function definition but I think #2 should be more along the lines of prevent rotation and transmit force through a sold core.

Thanks - I think I have found a good compromise and am getting results - which is the main thing.

I think the old time lifts can be very powerful but within the same context of low volume practice - not seeking a "workout" with them.

Thanks Mike

Guarden said...

Cool, thanks. :-D

Rick & The Family! said...


Do you think some people respond better then others to volume differences? For example, I know lifters at work (prison) who train 6-8 hours a day, every day, yet still make great gains in strength. One of my powerlifters is a 275'r and routinely does 500 x 2 raw in the bench and 700 x 3 in the deadlift. He does every bodypart 3 times a week. This would kill me, but he seems to to just keep getting stronger and bigger off of it.

I think the human body can adapt to pretty much anything and often times people use 'over training' as a cop-out to do less work.

It took me a long time to find that happy medium between too much and too little. Too much and I get hurt, too little and I am stagnant. Right now I am training 5 days a week and I am making consistant gains pain free.

Finding what works for you is half the battle. The rest is putting the time in under the bar. I do a mix of heavy training (5s down to singles) and DC style training, and it is working for me. Don't count out a little bit of volume to help strength increases.

This is one of my favorite blogs Brett-keep it up!


Geoff Neupert said...

I'm not sure I agree with the definition of "PREVENTING rotation," Brett. Ok, lemme rephrase that, I definitely don't agree with that. So, let's delve into the topic and tease out our definitions a little more.

Trunk rotation is a natural movement. Trying to prevent rotation seems like a very bad idea to me--setting up for a rotation injury in the future.

So, the prevention of rotation, is that in conjunction with compressive loads? What about dynamic joint stabilization under load? Is this more of what you're thinking?

I'd agree that compression plus rotation is BAD. But what about dynamic movements like grappling. What then is the role of the core musculature, say from the guard position or better yet, throwing your opponent?

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