| | The Truth of Battling the Bullshit

Author / Christopher McQuilkin

8 - 12 minute read

Power Athlete’s tagline is battle the BS.

1. How does Power Athlete define BS?
2. How does Power Athlete define truth?

1. What are five examples of BS Power Athlete has seen?
2. What are five examples of truth Power Athlete has seen?

Thanks much and thanks for the “Sipping Brew with the Crew”!

George

George,

The Fitness sphere is rife with flash-deals, re-branded supplements, programs making promises too good to be true, and more assholes than a Nickelback concert. Power Athlete has declared war on this bullshit in the world of strength and conditioning. We don’t have a set definition of BS in this realm, but as the old saying goes, we know it when we see it. For your question though, I feel it is more effective to first share how Power Athlete sniffs out BS the industry serves up, and then explain what we do in the products we offer that battles the BS.

Don’t Steal

The amount of mental preparation and determination it takes for an individual to begin exercising for the first time is more difficult than many of us who have been in this realm for a while can remember. What’s second nature to us is completely foreign, and can be frightening, to someone just starting out. New people are uneducated in what gym equipment to use, what to eat (or not), or what training programs to follow. Unfortunately, a large number of businesses prey on these people for a snatch-n-grab of their money, time, and moment of willingness to change their life, like a young Luke getting taken with Abflex’s ripped six-pack in 30 days scam back in ‘91.

Do What You Say You’re Going To Do

Some may fall for the bigger-the-lie marketing, while others may just fall victim to their trainer’s experience, or lack thereof. Training and exercise are voluntary stresses we expose ourselves to, hoping to tap into some serious physical changes. Once adaptation stops, a new stimulus must be applied to keep the Gain-Train rolling. If you’re following a program, have a routine, or working with someone that is not following through on getting you closer to your goal, you need to shake it up!

Don’t Do Nothing

This should go without saying. Think supplements promising bio-hacks, wannabe’s promising an individualized program only to hand off copy #545 of an “individualized” PDF program, or Luke mindlessly crunching away on his Abflex. To us, coaching isn’t a noun, but a verb. You have to actually DO SOMETHING. Fitness is a people-based business first, results-oriented business second. Work with people that are going to work with you, and go above and beyond in the experience they provide to keep you striving towards your goals.

Should anyone in the industry disagree with these three, George, this is your first whiff that they are serving up some BS. Let’s explore the other side of coin.

Training Programming Truths

Power Athlete has been a leader in developing and providing strength and conditioning programs to empower individuals’ performance for more than a decade. We have over a dozen training programs designed to be standalone or supplemental to what you’re already doing, with each being reversed engineered from common training goals and generating fresh cycles to fight stagnation. Our programs also make no outlandish claims; they adhere to irrefutable training principles. While the programs have different goals, they all follow the same principles. Recently, John and I had an open discussion to target the truths across all our training programs; have a listen, and then read through each of these truths and where they fall in our programming philosophy.

Performance Based Training

John’s training throughout his athletic career was centered around preparation for the demands he’d face in the arena. Sport has an inherent goal within each game day that paints a clear picture of preparation, in both sport skill and physical demands. While the demands of a professional football player far exceed what normies like you or I would ever face, we can still take this performance based approach to writing and distributing training programs. The trick is creating performance check-ins to test progress, and preparation similar in theme to what John faced on Sundays. 

No matter if you’re following Field Strong, Lean & Able, HAMR, or any of our other programs, you’ll find testing blocks strategically placed in each cycle to measure the impact of the program and show progress in your performance. These are not reserved for testing specific lifts; while we do love barbell PR’s, you’ll find tests to challenge movement skills, improved technique, and even vertical pull progress that no green band could ever give you.

Form Follows Function

We are firm believers in the architect’s adage of “form follows function”. When selecting or developing a program, the training must reflect what is aimed to be accomplished. If performance is what we’re focusing on, form follows function is how we get there.

For example, if you train like an endurance athlete, no matter how much you are hoping to get and look stronger, you’ll probably end up looking and performing like an endurance athlete. By the same token, if you train on Jacked Street, a program that combines holistic bodybuilding with strength and power training, no matter how much you are hoping to get aerobically fit, you’ll still probably end up looking like a brickhouse and putting on a ridiculous amount of functional muscle mass. (Sorry?)

Hypertrophy is Not a Dirty Word

On the Brew Crew, John discusses the culture of fitness when he entered the training and education space. Shocked at the bad press big muscles were getting, he was baffled at why people were preaching against muscle growth. These teachers and coaches fell into the trap of thinking all hypertrophy is created equal, assuming the term is only about gaining the size that they never could. This could not be farther from the truth!

All of Power Athlete’s programs have dedicated hypertrophy sessions or blocks, not only for performance, but also long-term health. Training volume and intensity are calculated with training experience, age, and the overall goal in mind for each program. Not only are the sets and reps dialed in, we use the training narratives in the daily write-ups to do what we love: coach. We discuss how to execute movements with different techniques and intentions, to accomplish the specific responses we want.

Lift Heavy Weights

Power Athlete programming is no stranger to loading athletes up and pushing limits through a heavy barbell. Many of the programs lean on a Rep Max (RM) approach to guide individual weight selection and target specific adaptations. Whether 1RM, 3RM, 5RM or more, there is a purpose behind the selection of intensity.

Tensile Strength 

Per science, “tensile strength is defined as a stress, which is measured as force per unit area.” Welbourn defines tensile strength as “that inherent strength athletes build from time under load. The longer an athlete has trained, the greater the tensile strength.” We find that trunk strength is a primary limitation for many athletes; like backs breaking in a deadlift or getting folded over in the squat. While overloading RM’s will not automatically result in an improvement in trunk strength, it will give athletes the opportunity to organize themselves under maximal load, in preparation for more reps without having to rely on a weight belt for protection. We also know the biggest modifiable risk factor for an ACL tear is a weak, uncontrollable trunk. No better tool than the barbell to accelerate tensile strength and reduce the risk of injury.


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Identify Where the Screws Are Loose

Nothing wrong with bodyweight-bootcamp style training on occasion, but if this is your only means of exercise then you’re missing out on a world of possibilities. By loading up RM’s and lifting heavy weights, we can identify limitations in active ranges of motion, stability, coordination, compensation, as well as the mental toughness of an athlete! 

Does limitation occur at the ankle that affects the hips when the spine is loaded? Where does the athlete compensate when they hit their sticking point? How does their body react to the load to work around their tight hips? How much does the athlete favor their non-surgically repaired knee 18 months post-op? All questions we can answer with movement under load!

There is so much data RM’s tell us about an athlete, and we hate for athletes and coaches to shy away. The weight room is a safe, controlled environment, if used correctly, that can present limitations we can target before going full speed in sport or training. If you’re a sport coach, no better tool than Bedrock to introduce athletes to the barbell and progress, while safely reducing risks associated with novice athletes lifting heavy weights.

Run Fast 

The only way to get fast, is to run fast. Period. I linked up an article below, Speed Training, identifying the programming mistakes for speed development. One of the biggest? Lack of opportunity. People feel they are not fast, or unprepared to sprint, because they never sprint!

We pride ourselves on the appropriate application of sprints in our training programs. Bedrock, Field Strong, HAMR, and ARMR are not “sprint programs”, but we balance appropriate doses of sprinting with strength training so athletes can coordinate and develop any new muscle mass to contribute to speed of movement. Think develop the coordination and speed of a cheetah along with the bicep peak of Arnold. If you’re looking specifically for sprint training, our Speed Kills program is a sprint based program that strength training can be bolted on to any program to really dial in technique and replication of sprinting speed.

Athleticism

Athleticism is the seamless and effortless combination of Primal Movements through space to accomplish a known or a novel task. – John Welbourn

Athleticism can be trained and developed over the course of an athlete’s life cycle, if the appropriate training program is applied at the right time. Taking the current program a professional athlete is following and handing it off to a teenager to begin training is a classic example of BS we run into in the industry. While all programs focus on improving an athlete’s ability to move well through all planes of motion, there is no better track to follow for developing athleticism than following Bedrock and progressing to Field Strong.

Empower Your Performance: Training Is a Means to An End

These are the truths we use to guide writing and delivering our training programs to thousands of athletes. I hope they’ll help give you a lense to see what we mean when we say BS. You can try out the product or program and see how, or if, it works for you. However, this can potentially get expensive real quick, so I can’t recommend that! 

What I can recommend is establishing a training goal and seeking as much information as you can to learn about it. This goal can be in line with a specific weight to lift, weight to lose, or entering a competition that is just outside your comfort zone. From there, select a training program or trainer in line with your training schedule, equipment preference/availability, and most importantly, your goal. If you want to know which Power Athlete program best suits you, take the survey below.

If you stumbled across some potential BS you can’t quite figure out, or if you found something completely asinine, please share in the comments below for us to educate, laugh at, or go to battle with.

RELATED CONTENT

EDU: Power Athlete Methodology – Online Course
PODCAST: Power Athlete Radio 364 w/ Dr. Cara Miller – Break Your Shit
BLOG: Battle The Bullshit – Women and Training by Ben Skutnik
BLOG: Battle The Bullshit – Skill and Speed Resistance by Tex McQuilkin
BLOG: Speed Programming by Tex McQuilkin
BLOG: Battle The Bullshit – Conditioning Test by Tex McQuilkin

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AUTHOR

Christopher McQuilkin

MS, CSCS, SCCC, CHES
Book a consult with me regarding coaching, training, life, education... anything your heart desires. Click below:
calendly.com/pahq-tex

Former collegiate lacrosse defensive midfielder, 4-year letter winner and 3-year team captain. Coached strength and conditioning collegiately with Georgetown University football, Men's and Women's lacrosse and Women's Crew, as well with the University of Texas at Austin's football program. Apprenticed under Raphael Ruiz of 1-FortyFour-1 studying proper implementation of science based, performance driven training systems. Head coached CrossFit Dupont's program for two years in Washington D.C. Received a Master's in Health Promotion Management from Marymount University in 2010, and has been a coach for Power Athlete since October, 2012.

1 Comment

  1. Jim Allen on June 12, 2020 at 9:08 pm

    I find your discussion regarding credibility with example of Drs in their offices with lab coats and degrees on the wall an important point. Reminded me of an early Sars-Cov-2 presentation in which the first thing the presenter did was show his medical degree and pulmonary credentials. Like your discussion, he was also from Texas. Shame we can’t assess ideas instead of sources as sometimes idiots have good ideas while geniuses often have bad ones.

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