Strength training has been a part of human nature since our inception.
Before labs, studies, stopwatches and programs there was the legendary fable of Milo and his calf.
There was Eugene Sandow, Charles Atlas, Paul Anderson.
There were the Grecian wrestlers, the Spartans and the Roman soldiers. There were the Scottish clans competing in the early version of the modern Highland Games and the Basque people’s feats of strength are among the most impressive in civilization.
All of those athletes didn’t have labs telling them what to do; they just did it.
There is a modern renaissance with the scientific aspect of training. Bloggers break down the mechanics of the squat, they track the arc of the bench press, talk about programming considerations with the reverence devoted to studying the Bible and track bar speed down to the millisecond all while using PubMed as a reference point to back up any hypothesis they have.
All of this is fine, in the proper perspective. If you are an advanced athlete who’s progress depends on a fraction of a variable, this is the time to analyze the fine print. If you are an intermediate athlete, the fine print becomes larger and you may only have to change one part of your program to further along your progress.
If you are a novice, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but those finer points do not apply to you when you still have to iron down form, hammer home basic programming and become consistent enough in the gym to track progress.
The science community is very beneficial to the world of strength but all that information can overload your mind with more answers than you have questions.
The recent trend towards science-based training slightly misses the mark with telling you clearly how to ensure solid progress throughout your year long training cycle.
In the midst of the macrocycles, microcycles, muscle activation charts and other finer points are the greater details:
These basic principles are all backed up by science and results.
All the studies in the world are wonderful but without taking the art of strength into consideration you become a strength geek who sounds intelligent but looks like shit.
So what is the art of strength training?
The art is knowing your body, listening to it when you need to back off, knowing the difference between over-analysis and small changes in a program, trusting your current program and actually doing work.
The art is the emotion of pushing weight without the need to justify every nuance.
Science changes as we learn more about the body, but I will tell you the 9 basics above will be here 100 years from now.
If you look at coaching styles from person to person you will find small differences between all of us who have results with our athletes but I will bet you that all of us have those above 9 principles firmly in check as we develop programs that work.
Keep that in mind as you read the latest wordy blog filled with EMG studies, activation charts, over-analysis of microcycles and trying to fix what isn’t broken.
The 9 variables are there and for the vast majority of us who will never leave the intermediate level of lifting, those are the 9 variables you can count on for years to come.
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