“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
When I began personal training almost 12 years ago, I thought I knew it all. My training experience was based on a few years of training myself and a year of training with a bodybuilder in Texas. My physique looked good because my training was focused on that end, muscle size (hypertrophy). That is what I knew and that is how I trained my clients. I would scoff at the mere site of a stability ball or a foam roller, and corrective exercise to me was something for physical therapists or chiropractors.
Over the years, I began to read more, and began to experiment with different styles of training. I studied core training, functional training, sports performance and corrective exercise intently. I tested what the current research suggested and found success in some areas, and a lack of results in others. I kept the stuff that worked, and discarded the rest.
As time went by, I was able to identify easier the sources of fitness information worth studying, as well as the Internet fluff not worth my consideration.
On many, many occasions I have been forced to question some of my fitness “truths” and often had to change entirely my paradigm on my training philosophy.
That brings me to the point of this blog.
The fitness industry is ever changing. The current state of research will suggest one method of training, and evolve into something else months later. The key is to:
a) stay on top of the current information, as it is the best available information at the time and:
b) be able to trash your comfortable way of training and thinking for something that is a proven better way.
This is difficult to do, as training with a certain philosophy is comfortable. You know the routine exactly and can deliver the information impeccably. The problem is, if you’re not adapting to the current available information on your skill, you are dis servicing yourself and your clients.
With that said, I would like to offer two insights on fitness that will probably change in the coming few years, but are as true as the research is current right now.
1) Planks for time are a waste of time
Bottom line, after about 15 seconds, even the strongest core begins asking for help. More often than not, it’s from the the hip flexors. If you want to train the TVA and the core muscles as a unit, train the plank with a load for no more than 15 seconds.
2) Prescribing a predetermined squat depth can be harmful.
Squat depth is something that is unique to the individual and their unique capabilities. Forcing a deep squat depth usually ends with a host of compensations that can harm the trainee and burn in faulty movement patterns. It kills me personally when I hear a comment of “you need to squat deeper for a real squat.” This deep squat is usually achieved through massive hip flexion to make up for limited ankle mobility, loading the lumber spine extensively. It’s an ugly and harmful squat. Rule of thumb, squat to your “comfortable range of motion,” which may change as you correct some movement issues.
I’ll be addressing a few more fitness issues that current research has given us better insight into in future posts.
Matt Pirtle, MA CSCS