Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Jack of all trades

In recent years, there is a new trend in the world, and not only in the physical training world, but everywhere, concerning trying to achieve many goals at the same time, conquering the title 'Jack of all trades'.
I believe this is fine... As a goal!
As the way to get to that goal, it is far from optimal.
Our phisiolegy just doesnt work that way. SAID principle, adaptation, specialization and survivle mechanisms are main factors here, but I wont lecture you on that.
Recently I ran into a training program that is highly flawed by a generaly excelent strength coach, Christian Thibaudeau:
(ignore the supplement commercial at the start of the article)

Christian, who quotes coach-extraordiner' Charles Poliquin is breaking some of Poliquin's main rules about program design, among them specialization, broad pyramid sets and more.
Notice the equal quantity of volume divided among the various training
tools, while trying to achieve.... Everything.... And all at the same time.
I suspect this kind of program has no value, besides maybe for the complete beginner and as a general fitness tool. Not very useful.
I see this kind of thing everywhere, people trying to achieve everything
together at the same training micro/macro-cycle while only discovering they have achieved nothing.
Dont throw your adaptive body (and mind) into confusion. Even if you have multiple goals (I'm the first to admit that) periodize them wisely, move certain things into maintaince while pushing other things forward, you will see better results, quicker.
Having said that, taking a hypothetical trainee, put him into an intense crossfit program that includes OLifting, gymnasics and metcon work for 3 years and see where he gets. I'm sure an impressive improvement in many physical traits.
Take the same trainee and put him one year with a OLifting coach working OL mainly, one year with coach sommer, specializing in gymnastics strength elements and one year of implementation into metcon type of work and you get a much supperior athlete.
Isnt it obvious?

PS. For Coach Thibaudeau's sake, I have to admit I have commited the same sin in program design a few times in the past, it is just our nature to try to juggle all the balls.


Nick M said...

I am glad that you wrote this as I am (still) sometimes guilty of going for too many goals at once in my own workouts.
Funnily enough I never fall into this trap anymore with my own clients, God bless the power of objectivity, but it is always good to read your insightful comments that help reinforce what I already know and have learned myself from Charles.

Your comments made me read many of your older posts and I was very impressed and inspired with the way you so obviously walk the walk.

Ido Portal said...

Thank you for your comment. We all need a reminder from time to time.
I once heared Charles say that upon reviewing past training programs he wrote for his athletes long ago he reminds himself of a lot of successful aproaches he abandoned over time. So, in a way, you can even reach out from the past and kick your own ass.
I'm processing your site, little by little, seems full of interesting content.

Did you get here through gymnasticbodies? Are you interested in gymnastics oriented strength and conditioning?

nick m said...

I think I found your blog through one of the countless google alerts I have set up.

I am massively interested in any subject that gives us control over our minds and bodies. Gymnastics oriented strength & conditioning is something I am not just interested in but will be pursuing it a lot more in my own training once I have opened my new centre. None of this Crossfit BS, but we already have the rings and the ropes bought and stored. I am not sure what to expect though as given my long levers and bodyweight (250lbs plus) I am most definitely not a natural gymnast. As evidenced by CP himself telling a room of people this weekend that "Nick is a former Olympian in synchronised swimming!". Push ups are the extent of my acrobatic repetoire!

Ido Portal said...

Poliquin is still like that, ha?
Its been years since I saw him in person, but the last time I did, seeing him among the americans was quite a show. Deep down, and without realizing it, CP is an Israely guy.

And about being too heavy for BW oriented stuff, look up these names:
Bert Assirati(266lbs BW, 3 one arm chin ups, above 800lbs deadlift, one arm handstand)
Marvin Edder (body builder, ripped 200lbs BW, 80 correct, clean wide arm chin ups, 500 lbs BP, straight arm pull over 210 lbs)
Everett Marshall (226 lbs BW, one arm chin up, 28 correct, clean chin ups)

Of course, this was back when men were men and your testorsterone count didnt look like your pants size.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Portal:
I found your post very interesting. I would not have considered your final point "obvious" but I lack sufficient expertise to know. I'm still trying to find my way. The question that I have (sincerely; I'm not just teeing up an objection) is whether you would hold that to be as obviously true at any point prior to the end of the three year period. That is, if I took the CF Path, starting basically with a modicum of athleticism but no olifting, gymnastics, and little CF experience, I presume that at the 6 month point, 1 year point, and 2 year point I'd be a better athlete than if I took the 1/1/1 Path. What are your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I just left the previous post, and realized that perhaps I was a little presumptious, and I'm sorry. I would very much be interested, and would appreciate, any thoughts you had on the subject. Thanks again.

Ido Portal said...

My friend, please log in under your name or at least identify yourself and I would be happy to give you my opinion.
Just common courtesy in a conversation like this.


Anonymous said...

Ido- I left the previous comment, I appreciate your response, and I do recognize the discourtesy. Unfortunately, because of the application requirements of the new administration, and unrelated to my interest in fitness, I just can't have my name in the ether (and perhaps I'm just too neurotic about it, but there it is). There is no other motive other than I really don't want to torpedo the job. In any case, I do enjoy your blog, and appreciate the fact that you responded at all.

Ed X said...

Hey Ido,

Thamks for designing that Planche/Front Lever program for me. I haven't been too consistent with it unfortunately. But I feel better worked after each session, compared to what I used to. So, thanks again.

Train hard,

Zacariah Hildenbrand said...

Mr. Portal,

I've been crossfitting for the past 6 monthes and have made some solid strides in my fitness goals. I recently started doing heavier workouts and doing the mass gain diet that Robb Wolf recommends. I stumbled across your video and I was absolutely astonished. Your strength and power is unbelieveable. I am pretty skinny and I'm trying to put on some muscle. It seems like implimenting some gymnastics into my heavy lifting will help. What are your thoughts?

Thank you greatly for your time.

Zacariah Hildenbrand

Ido Portal said...

Strength can be demonstrated and used in many mediums. If the kind of strenth you are after is the one shown on my video, you would be wise to implement gymnastics oriented strength and conditioning as your main upper body work. Check out gymnasticbodies.com for more information on how to do that optimaly.

Thanks for the complements and all the best,
Ido Portal.

Zacariah Hildenbrand said...


Thanks again! After reading through some of the literature I've developed the notion that I should work on bodyweight strength before I get into lifting heavy weights. All of my oly lifts have plateaued yet I'm not yet proficient at muscle ups or HSPU's.
I have purchased the book and an exciting to get going on this training.

Quick question though. Is your training strictly gymnastics based, and how frequently do you train?

All the best!


hunter said...

Hey Ido,

I really like this article. It made me realize that I was attempting to do too much at once, and I have now focused my training much more, and am making excellent gains.

I noticed in an earlier post that you take GSE. Is that grapefruit seed extract and what does it do?

Also, what other supplements do you take, either in the morning or post workout, and how do they help?

Ido Portal said...

Grape seed extract is used mainly when traveling as an insurance policy against gut pathogens and food poisening. It is antiseptic and antibacterial and can be used topicly, oraly, analy and any other ly' you can think of.
Supplements that i take? I have experimented with littelry hundreds of products. Nowdays for example I use a chinese adaptogen formula to cope with training induced stress and cortisol secretion, multi vit B, vit C, milk thistle as a liver detoxifying boost, digestive enzymes + Betaine HCL for digestion support, fish oil for anything you can think of, protein isolate for recuperation, and I am sure I am forgetting more...

Supplements are exactly that - supplement for hard training, good nutrition and life style habits. This point cannot be overemphesized.

hunter said...

Thanks for the answers Ido. I might try GSE next time I go out of the country.

I have another question though. Are you moving this blog to the Hacasa site? I just visited it for the first time, and the picture and video links weren't working, so I clicked on blog, and it was the self dominance post. Just wondering if I should keep checking out this site or the hacasa one for updates.

Ido Portal said...

For now, check out this blog, I plan to move it in the future to Hacasa domain, though.


hunter said...

And one more question, haha. In the Physical Preparation and Nutrition for Capoeira Seminar post you said you were writing another article for the Jan 2007 PMenu, but when I looked up that issue there was no article by you.

Did they put it in a different issue or something?

Ido Portal said...

No, it was never posted. Sorry.

Ganga said...

I'm a student of capoeira (CDO Hawaii) as well... I find it difficult to balance my personal training and capoeira. It seems as if there are not enough hours in a day. I have only been training capoeira for six years and before that I was only into body building. Since beginning capoeira I have stopped using weights an and switch to using only BW exercises. However, I gain muscle mass pretty easy and have always felt like the stronger I become the more I will suffer in flexibility. I stand 190.5 cm so in the roda flexibility is very important to me. How many times a per day do you recommend stretching?

Ido Portal said...

Depends on the type of stretching. I have used various methods over the years with different results. Isometrics, PNF, passive, active, ballistic, myofascial, miometric, eccentric, and many more.
Nowdays I try to research more the mental side of stretching - as flexibility is dictated by the nervous system mainly - and though, effected to a large degree by your mental state. Yogis do extensive development in this field through their practice.
Good luck with your training,

G said...

Were is a good place to learn more about Poliquins methods

0 said...

Hey Ido great article but I am a bit skeptic about this concept. Like if you work and focus only with Oly Lifts, got really good and went to do gymnastics work. Then you would loose the strength attributes you had gain with Oly Lifts and then you go to Metcons you would loose your strength from gyjnastics work and even more with Oly Lifts. Like a boxer for example. He needs all attributes from strength endurance to speed strength to max strength. He has to work on all his strengths and skills. So how would you do so if you work and focus only on one thing and then move to the next and focus only on that?

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