The Argument

The Argument

     In my opinion, the shift in attitudes towards intense and arduous exercise regimens can be traced back to the early 1970s. Rather than being the result of a solitary factor, this change was influenced by several events and a gradual trend towards condensed exercise sessions. Significantly, the use of anabolic steroids played a crucial role in this shift. Those who used these substances realized that remarkable gains could be achieved by utilizing any training routine, even severely shortened ones, without having to rely on heavy weights or maintain a consistent workout schedule.

After the appearance of a series of high-quality exercise machines, such as the Nautilus line, fitness regimes became more efficient. The creator of Nautilus, Arthur Jones, cleverly paired the machines with a short-duration workout regimen. Participants would complete two sets to exhaustion on a range of machines and then would be instructed to take a brief hiatus before their next session. Gym owners reacted positively to this new concept. Members were able to finish their workouts in thirty minutes or less without the hassle of having to handle plates, bars, or dumbbells. Moreover, there were no serious muscle enthusiasts hogging the gym equipment for hours on end. The absence of true strength building from these machines did not really matter. The ultimate aim was always profit, not actual fitness or musculature.

The notion of rapid and undemanding workout routines harmonized well with the nation's burgeoning inclination towards immediate satisfaction. Swiftness took precedence over slowness, and simplicity became more desirable than difficulty. As a result, fast food establishments flourished. People not only lacked the time and energy to cook for themselves or their loved ones, but also found it cumbersome to park their vehicles and enter the restaurants to place their orders. Simultaneously, customers could effortlessly drive through and acquire their meals with no hassle or inconvenience. These were the things that American citizens yearned for and viewed as an entitlement.

The concept of credit cards contributed to a shift in consumer attitude towards purchasing. Prior to their prevalence, lay-away was a common practice, where buyers were obligated to pay for an item in full before taking it home. However, credit cards enabled individuals to acquire highly coveted goods such as beds, televisions, or trips, with the promise of resolving payment at a later date. This phenomenon was representative of the American ethos of prosperity, a belief in the nation's infallibility and economic strength. Consequently, the impulse for instant gratification began to overshadow the virtue of delayed gratification, resulting in a culture of impatience.

The trend of wanting quick and easy solutions was reflected in the training programs featured in various fitness magazines that became widely available. The recommended workouts were brief, with ample rest periods in between. Avoiding pushing oneself too hard in specific exercises was emphasized, as it was considered potentially dangerous. Optimum gains were thought to be achieved by staying within one's comfort zone. If certain exercises resulted in soreness, it was advised to remove them from the routine and substitute them with something less demanding. Many individuals sought to capitalize on this trend, leading to an influx of advertisements for exercise programs and various machines and gadgets, all aimed at achieving physical fitness with minimal effort and difficulty. Promotions of such products filled different publications and TV programs. The marketing heavily relied on images of perfectly toned models executing workouts or aerobic dance routines, suggesting that following the accompanying DVD could result in someone achieving the same appearance.

Due to the fact that the midsection, commonly referred to as the "core", was often in poor shape, a plethora of ab machines became available on the market. Their primary marketing angle was the promise of minimal effort and time required for ab workouts, while also ensuring a comfortable experience for the user. These machines incorporated neck supports to prevent discomfort during crunches and were designed with simplicity and convenience in mind. The success of these devices resulted in a flood of inexperienced individuals entering the industry.

It should come as no surprise to those who have maintained a presence in the realm of physical culture that our country finds itself battling an epidemic of obesity. This phenomenon is not lost on me. Unfortunately, there is simply no avoiding the reality that Americans as a whole have become complacent. They desire the benefits of a well-toned physique, yet they do not wish to invest the time and effort required to achieve such results. They seek shortcuts, but the truth is that these abbreviated methods of progress are futile. Although it would be ideal to spend less than an hour per week performing exercise routines to experience optimal fitness levels, this is nothing more than an unrealistic fantasy. It is well understood that genuine progress necessitates extensive efforts and tireless perseverance.

The principle of prioritizing speed and simplicity over hardship and toil has not only gained widespread acceptance among the general populace but has also had a profound impact on the practices and strategies advocated by fitness experts, including strength coaches at various levels such as scholastic, collegiate, and professional, as well as coaches specializing in the art of Olympic lifting. Speaking particularly of Olympic coaches, it is noteworthy that...

Why is it that the United States is being defeated by Third World countries with an annual per capita income of only $100.00? Years ago, it was argued that these foreign countries had an unfair advantage due to their government's support. However, during that time, the US was still producing champions or at least strong competitors. Now, the US has a fully funded training facility staffed with highly paid coaches who are supposed to know what they're doing. All that is required of the lifters is to train, they are fed and housed without cost, and they receive a stipend as well as the opportunity to attend college. Despite this, the US continues to be defeated by these Third World countries.

The lack of progress in American Olympic weightlifting begs the question: where are the results that we so desperately seek? While only occasionally does an American lifter make it to the top ten, the weightlifting committee is still giddy at the prospect. However, this sense of excitement is met with sadness and disappointment, as there is no justification for our inability to produce better athletes. The root of this problem lies in the fact that our lifters are not dedicating enough time and effort to training. To highlight this point, we can look back at the lifters of the 1960s, including Bednarski, Dube, Garcy, Patera, Pickett, Lowe, March, Bartholomew, Riecke, Cleveland, Kono, Puleo, Imahara, Vinci, Berger, Henry, Schemansky, Brannum, Knipp, Grippaldi, Karchut, Deal, Moyer, and Holbrook, who all competed with the best in the world and more than held their own. These lifters were not given a free pass - they all balanced jobs and training on their own time, without coaches. Their work ethic was remarkable and included multiple 2.5 hour sessions per week, as they refused to rest on their laurels. They were determined to be champions, solely relying on their inner drive and dedication. If American Olympic weightlifters hope to ever compete at the same level as the rest of the world, then they must take responsibility for their own progress and push themselves beyond their current limits.

Achieving success is possible, however, it requires a level of effort that few people are willing to undertake. In sports, this has been a commonly held belief that has not changed over time. To emerge victorious, athletes must put in more effort than their competitors. This includes hours spent in the weight room, refining techniques, and expanding on their workload and top-end capabilities. There are no shortcuts or performance-enhancing drugs to rely on. The key factor in determining who succeeds is the level of passion that one has to overcome obstacles.

During the early days of strength coaching, the methods and circumstances were unlike those of the present era. At the University of Maryland, the University of Hawaii, and Johns Hopkins, the strength coach was frequently the sole practitioner responsible for implementing programs. Conversely, it is now commonplace for universities to have multiple coaches overseeing strength programs, with separate personnel catering to each athletic team. This trend may foster less productivity, due to the adage of “too many cooks spoil the broth”. Historical strength programs were orchestrated by a single coach, dictating the same regimen to every participating athlete. There was no divergent programming between baseball, basketball, soccer, football, and lacrosse, as all players followed the same training pattern. When initiating the program, the objective was identical for all sports, building a foundational strength and fostering the development of proper form and technique. The autonomy of the strength coach was encouraged, as they were not subject to any external interference from other coaches.

By the mid-nineties, a shift occurred in the relationship between sports coaches and the weight room. These coaches began seeking more influence over the weight room's activities, particularly after attending conventions showcasing strength and conditioning techniques designed by recognized experts. Instead of following the successful program already in place, they wanted to incorporate new methods, such as plyometrics, that promised improved foot speed, agility, or balance. Despite the fact that high-skill exercises like full cleans and snatches could achieve these same goals, the coaches persisted in their desire to integrate new approaches. Since fact no longer had control over their approach with their teams, the strength gains were not as significant as they had been previously.

The field of strength coaching has become highly profitable, as evidenced by the $75K salary offered for the top job at Harvard 2 years ago. As a result, those who occupy positions within the industry and are enjoying generous salaries are understandably hesitant to disrupt the status quo and jeopardize their employment. The highest salary ever earned as a strength coach was $10K. When the political climate became a source of frustration, most made the decision to leave without hesitation. This aligns with my overall approach to life - Never work a job you cannot leave.

Many of these strength coaches has family responsibilities such as repaying mortgages, car loans, and investing in their children's education. Consequently, the competition for good positions in the field is intense, and coaches often give in to the preferences of sports coaches, leading to an uncoordinated and ineffective strength program. These coaches dilute the program by incorporating unsound ideas from sports coaches and poorly devised foot speed exercises, rendering the strength portion essentially pointless.

At the professional level, there is heightened concern over injuries in the weight room. Strength coaches face strict rules against causing any harm to players during conditioning, a rule which proves commonly upheld across professional football teams. The franchise owners of professional teams now demand that any injury inflicted on a player would results in a dismissal from the position. That in fact all strength coaches in the field faced the same ultimatum. Despite these restrictions, it is terribly important to adhere to the proper training accompanied by very in-depth knowledge on technique to ensure the safety under the bar as a direct translation from this you will assuredly be protecting your athletes whilst they are on the field. 

My perspective is that this method of strength training lacks awareness as it fails to acknowledge the demands of football as a high-risk sport. With opponents weighing as much as 330 pounds charging at each other at incredible speeds and protected by full body armor, the player's entire body must be primed to withstand such impact in order to avoid injury.

The issue at hand is the lack of adequate preparation for professional football players. The game itself is comparable to a war zone, therefore it is crucial that athletes enter the stadium well-prepared for any physical mishap that may occur. However, it appears that many players are ill-equipped due to insufficient strength training. The training prescribed for them consists solely of exercises that carry minimal risk and do not require much skill, leaving their bodies unprepared for the strenuous demands of the sport. Most professional programs seem to prioritize aerobic fitness and agility over pure strength training, which results in fewer injuries during training sessions but isn't effective in preventing injuries during games, practices, and even overall general life circumstances. 

Bill St. John tells of the time he visited the weight room of the Philadelphia Eagles. After looking it over, he asked the strength coach why there weren’t any platforms. “Where do you have them power clean and deadlift?” he asked.

In a gruff, annoyed tone, the coach replied, “We don’t have them do any of that crap. They get beat around enough on the field. They don’t need to punish their bodies in here.”

My belief is that incorporating weight training into an athlete's routine can greatly benefit their performance both during games and practices. By focusing on building their strength to an exceptional level through vigorous weight workouts, athletes can better protect themselves from physical strain and injury on the field. It is crucial for coaches to understand that easing up on weight training for athletes in contact sports can lead to unintended consequences and is not in their best interest. Even if athletes initially struggle with the heavy sets of exercises like goodmornings and squats, the long-term benefits of this training will outweigh any temporary discomfort.

Specialized training was administered to the University of Hawaii football players who received invites to try out for professional teams. Unlike most players who attended the two-a-day workouts to get in shape, A few athletes were prepared as if they were training for the Olympics. This dedication led to successes in their professional careers. Seven players of average skill level, including John Woodcock, Jaris White, Levi Stanley, Arnold Morgado, Charlie Aiu, Harold Stringert, and Dan Audick, made it to the professional level. Dan even had the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl for the San Francisco team.

Charlie Aiu stood out as the most impressive player. Despite not being drafted, he was given the opportunity to attend the San Diego Chargers' summer training camp for a tryout. However, he discovered that the team had already signed three promising rookie offensive linemen with generous signing bonuses, making his chances of making the team very unlikely. Nevertheless, Charlie had a passion for weightlifting which helped motivate him to work harder in preparation for the camp.

Tommy Suggs directed a summer training camp at the Houston Oilers a few years ago, in that the entire team was required to perform chins on their way out to the practice fields. Charlie was advised to incorporate chins into his training regimen and suggested that if he could impress the coaches with his ability to perform a high number of chins, it might garner their attention. At the beginning, Charlie weighed 265 pounds and could only do three chins. However, he gradually increased the number of chins he performed at each workout and was eventually able to do sixteen by the time he left for camp. Because of his impressive performance, Charlie was noticed by the coaches and ultimately received a contract to play for several years. This was especially noteworthy as most of the other lineman could only manage one or two chins, and the three rookies that were drafted were all injured.

Upon arriving at the camp, he was well-prepared. However, time has revealed a concerning trend of injuries occurring at an alarming rate during the initial stages of summer training, despite the absence of any significant contact. Participating athletes seem ill-equipped to perform at an optimal level due to the lack of rigorous preparation and training. The coach responsible for their strength and conditioning appears to be prioritizing avoiding overtraining at the expense of adequately preparing players for the upcoming season. Consequently, many players are enlisting the services of personal trainers to ensure they are adequately conditioned for competition.

There is a stark contrast between the approach of personal trainers and professional strength coaches when it comes to strength training. While pro coaches prioritize avoiding injuries, personal trainers are more concerned with avoiding making their clients sore. Their programs tend to focus on bodybuilding and targeting multiple muscle groups without challenging the athlete too much with pure strength exercises. Personal training, in essence, is not primarily about fitness but rather is a service that allows clients to be the center of attention and discuss themselves for a few hours each week. This pampered approach appeals to many professional athletes, who appreciate the feeling of being special but may not be adequately prepared for the upcoming season.

It is not uncommon for individuals to regress in strength training without realizing it. This typically occurs when they begin to substitute more demanding exercises with less strenuous ones. For instance, a person might switch from doing good mornings, which is a difficult exercise that strengthens the lower back, to almost straight-legged deadlifts. They might also abandon heavy pulls off the floor for machine-assisted pulling movements. Back squats may remain in their routine, but at much lighter weight, to reduce the workout's intensity. They may even phase out high-skill exercises altogether, due to their demanding nature. As this trend continues, it becomes challenging to correct it. Gradually, the strength athlete who once devoted equal attention to all of their major muscle groups becomes focused solely on building upper body strength.

It can be a catastrophic cycle, and the sole solution is to take a step back and reassess one's objectives. Is the aspiration of surpassing the commonplace individual shuffling through the food aisles searching for unhealthy snacks still your aim? Or have you relinquished that pursuit? The majority of individuals in our nation desire to possess both physical strength and health, yet they are unwilling to exert the necessary exertions required to fulfill that goal.

In order to achieve optimal physical performance, it is imperative to continuously challenge and push the body beyond its previous limits. This concept holds true for individuals of various ages and skill levels, including seasoned and aspiring strength athletes. The human body is a dynamic entity, subject to constant change, and it is crucial to avoid stagnation by continuously striving for improvement. Consistently challenging oneself during workouts is the key to awakening muscular and skeletal structures from complacency. Consequently, overloading the body through intensive physical activity is paramount. Although many training enthusiasts understand this fundamental principle, implementing its application often requires sustained motivation and effort.

The notion of strengthening muscles, tendons, and ligaments by progressively intensifying the degree of stress exerted upon them dates back centuries ago. It is probable that our ancestors residing in caves utilized some form of overloading for survival, where those who proved to be adept at it prevailed. Later on, Milo became the earliest recorded instance of employing this approach. He would lift a calf each day until it matured into a sturdy bull, and as the calf grew, so did Milo's strength. It proved to be a methodical and efficient technique for enhancing physical strength.

Numerous methods exist to incorporate the principle of overload into training programs. This can often cause confusion among coaches and athletes alike. A fundamental aspect of this principle involves challenging the body beyond its regular limits, requiring it to work harder than before and in excess. Previous accomplishments, whether from a year or a month ago, do not contribute to current progress. It is essential to proceed gradually to provide ample time for the body to adjust to the new demands. Failing to do so may result in overtraining and negate any potential benefits.

The utilization of overloading for training purposes is effective only when accompanied by meticulous documentation of all workout sessions. To obtain the total workload for a given day, one must calculate the product of number of repetitions and weight lifted for each exercise and add these figures together. This process can be repeated for weekly and monthly periods to generate a detailed record of one's training progression. These numerical outcomes can be utilized to design or modify future training programs accordingly.

The process may appear daunting, but it is actually quite straightforward. The effectiveness of this chart lies in its ability to quickly identify areas that require improvement and enable program adjustments accordingly. Begin by creating a comprehensive log of workouts, encompassing primary and auxiliary exercises, total sets, reps, and weight lifted. With this information, workload can be accurately calculated and the principle of overloading can be utilized appropriately. It is advised to maintain a notebook for record-keeping purposes.


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