I like to believe I’m a pretty open minded person / trainer. I believe variety and putting different strategies together makes a better athlete. I also think hypes are rarely a good thing. Hypes come and go and people get sucked into the excitement of certain experiences, communities or promises. After all, why is the fitness and supplement industry a multi million dollar business?
If something was easy, everyone would do it and we would all look like fitness models. It simply doesn’t work that way.
You have to wonder though, what is the biggest group of people who train and set goals? It’s the general population. It’s the people who go to school, have jobs, families and a full schedule. Then why do so many training programs, trainers and fitness cults make these people perform training programs and exercises which are really reserved for pro athletes or SPECIFIC recreational athletes?
Let me go back a few steps… I do believe you have to challenge yourself. If you want results, you need to make sure your body adapt to stimuli it is not used to. In my classes and sessions, I try to challenge clients all the time. However, I do so by giving them exercises/drills and programs that are suited for them. The key to teaching and training, something that is set in stone in my head, is to challenge people enough but making sure they can accomplish what you ask them to do. They may not believe they can do it themselves but a good trainer knows how much to push. If you make someone fail, it lowers confidence. If you make something too easy, you give them false confidence.
That being said, I am a certified and experienced coach in many different fields. I can coach people to do olympic weight lifting and if that is a goal of theirs, I am more than happy to teach them. However, having people perform complex olympic lifts in a large group setting WITH too many reps WITH the pressure of time is simply an awful idea. Pushing people that hard with complex and high impact movements can lead to disaster. If you look at some hypes out there, there is an extremely large amount of severe injuries, as well as cases of Rhabdo. Rhabdo is a potentially fatal condition which can kill you or can make you lose limbs or other awful consequences.
There are also stories of people peeing themselves, vomiting on a very regular basis and coaches blaming clients for getting injured (what?).
In my opinion, doing the complex movements are an absolute necessity for higher level athletes or individuals who focus on that aspects of their fitness. It is NOT a good idea to have the average person who wants to get in shape perform 400lbs. deadlifts, snatches, clean & jerks, heavy squats all the time with a large amount of reps and time pressure. Depending on the person, they might want or need to do this however we can not generalize this for everyone. You have to ask: Are these really necessary and think about the long term consequences of pushing these too hard (for example joint problems).
After all, there are PLENTY of other options. I prefer high intensity cross training classes which challenge everyone but with a lot less impact, much safer and we reach all the goals we want! We have no severe injuries pop up, no Rhabdo and we don’t ask people to do heavy bench presses and snatches within a certain time period. You can challenge people in many ways with a lot of different equipment, therefore I don’t see the need to ask all clients to perform these technical movements. Do these movements have great benefits? They sure do but it still doesn’t mean they are suited for everyone. Again, most people want to make a change and get in better shape but there are different and safer ways to accomplish that. A big argument for these olympic and complex lifts are that they’re functional. Again, try a good TRX® trainer and you’ll get all the functional training you need!
If people do want to perform some of the complex movements, they can learn these with a lot of individual attention by a certified trainer and in a controlled safe setting. Every exercise and movement has it’s place in fitness and training but that doesn’t mean everyone is suited for all of it!
By Sander Vanacker for FitGuana
Sander Vanacker is a personal trainer, CEO of Bring Back Nature, Inc. and founder of FitGuana. He believes in improving health and wellness by incorporating more nature into our lives, being active and spending more time outdoors.