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8/13/2012 1:35:31 PM -

In the fitness industry and with coaching, there seems to be a common profile among all the people whose information I trust. I’m not claiming it’s necessary for us all to share the same life history. This post is just reflective of my personal opinion with regard to the people I’ve gravitated to over the years for training information. When we can identify with people, we trust them more – but since virtually everyone I hold in high esteem in this industry has a similar history, I think there’s something to be said for this.

I think I started lifting weights when I was 12. In our basement growing up, my father had a bench, a barbell with a decent amount of weight, and a pair of those old-school adjustable dumbbells with screw-on collars. We also had some other crap – a heavy bag, a speed bag, a sit-up thing that bolted under a door, a pull-up bar in a doorframe, and a basketball hoop in the driveway. The first time I ever tried squatting, I was small enough to actually good morning the bar off the bench, step back, and do them that way.

I started lifting weights because I played sports and wanted to get better. I wanted to bat cleanup, to make baseballs hiss when I pitched them, and to be able to beat the shit out of every other kid in my school. This, of course, entailed benching 4-5 times a week, but whatever. We all did it, right? After a couple of brutal Pop Warner years hitting blocking sleds (you have no idea how hard this is until you’ve actually done it), I realized that lifting weights for my legs would be helpful. I was also a quarterback at that point, and my cousin (who played baseball in college) told me I could improve my throwing arm by lifting weights. I was hooked. I never missed a workout.

Big deal, right? Well, I worked at it, year after year, and the shit worked. I got bigger and stronger, and I became a pretty good athlete. Through trial, error, and experience, I learned the relationship between strength and conditioning and sports performance – especially when it came to explosive stuff like pitching a baseball, throwing a football or trying to dunk a basketball (which I’m still pissed off that I never did in a game – although I did get called for goaltending once, which was pretty cool).

My point here? Well, with every athlete or coach I’ve ever spoken to who has a relationship with the S/C side of things, the story is always the same. They all started pretty much the same way, and by the time they made it to their mid-30’s, they already had 20+ years of experience.

This shit – lifting weights in the basement and crowding around your high school weight room’s benches with ten of your screaming douchebag teammates – is the one “system” I don’t hear most of these “internet fitness celebrities” talking about, but it’s the one I consider absolutely indispensible. If you didn’t spend your high school years walking home from practice in the dusk, year after year, absolutely f-ing exhausted, there’s not much I want to hear you tell me about physical preparation for sports – or anything else.

Remember getting home, bone tired, and barely even getting your hands wet when you were told to “wash up for dinner” because you were so f-ing hungry from practice that you could eat a live horse? No, actually you don’t, because you never did that.

While you were home playing Pokemon and PlayStation, we were out on the field getting screamed at and bleeding. If you tell me there’s a substitute for that experience, I’ll disagree with you all day long.

That’s why guys on the athletic side of things are typically skeptical and suspicious of people on the “fitness” side of things. When I talk to a guy who never played sports, who can’t even catch or throw a ball, and who took up lifting weights after college, it’s damned near impossible for me to take him seriously when he wants to debate me. That’s why I’m perpetually questioning trainers who give us that whole, “I was a skinny, scrawny kid who never played sports until I discovered the ‘secret to strength’ when I was 25” angle.

Really, guy? The rest of us had been at it for 15 years by that point.

This is especially true when they tell you how experienced they are and how much time they’ve spent “in the trenches.” The trenches, to me, was the pre-internet era when we were just in the gym by ourselves busting our asses trying to figure shit out. That doesn’t apply to some dude in a polo shirt with own website and a photo of himself with his arms crossed, telling me I can pay him for the “secret” to training for some sport he’s never even played.

The one caveat I’ll offer is that this isn’t aimed at everyone. It’s aimed at someone specific. There are plenty of great coaches and trainers around who don’t have this background, but they know their shit and they don’t come off like dickheads. Some specific people, however, are a little big for their britches as pertains to subject matter they know little to nothing about.

You can’t be a doctor if you don’t go to medical school, and you can’t dole out benching advice if you max is less than I did for reps in 9th grade. It’s just that simple for me.

Something is obviously chapping my ass lately,
Angry Coach

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