Since when did critical thinking lose it’s place in Strength training?

It’s been quite a few days in the online, social media world of the western Strength community.

The cause was this article by multiple world record holder Mike Tuchscherer. The result saw some less than subtle digs from both sides concerning: 1) raw versus geared, 2) conjugate system followers versus non followers, etc.

All the while Mike’s proposed theory was, in a sense, swept under the carpet hidden under the smoke of the social media b*tchfest, or outright discounted by some devout Westside followers (which to me seems to contradict the whole culture of critical thinking that Westside was created, and became so great on). Note I count myself as a Westside supporter, as well as a Mike T supporter.

Mike then followed up this first article with a second article in which he attempted to make his points clearer. Elitefts reacted by publishing this article (My comments in that article are under the name ‘Jonny’…I miss typed and just kept it not to confuse the discussion. Read that to see my thoughts on this issue).

And so the argument continued.

All the while nobody addressed the real questions that people should be asking.. Namely

1) Mike, please explain your collection and subsequent analysis of the data you have obtained to come to this conclusion about speed work. Can the techniques used and data observed be made available publicly?

2) How can we, now, as a community of coaches, lifters, strength enthusiasts replicate and test Mike’s theory in order to gain answers that can only make the community as a whole stronger for it.

Personally, I have done dynamic effort or ‘speed’ work for a while now. The reason I do it is quite simply because I don’t believe I have the work capacity at the moment to consistently go to Max effort (or near max effort) twice a week for the same body half, and continue to a) not get injured and b) make progress without breaking down and going backwards. Also being raw I have always kept my percentages relatively high waving up from 70% (absolute minimum) to 80% or even 85% (occasionally with accommodated resistance added). So in my position I believe while independently, dynamic effort may not be the most efficient system for building solely strength, when looking at the bigger picture of a weekly program, for me, I find it fits (saying that I would never be too blinkered to set this view in stone, should my observations prove otherwise in the future, I shall always remain open to changing my personal training philosophy) and has allowed me to progress.

I myself have always believed Westside themselves advocated raw lifters lifting at higher percentages for dynamic effort work than the standard geared percentages (50%-65%). With that in mind there’s actually much in Mike’s ideas that agree with the ideas of Westside.

It will be interesting to see how this issue progresses. I myself hope it develops into an intellectual debate; and I would love to be able to follow this article  with a part 2 containing further news on evidence testing and collection surrounding this theory, rather than reporting on the next side to take a shot at the other. Whatever the outcome of such a debate, the result can only make the strength community stronger for it, so kiss and make up, and get on with it I say.

I’ll finish this post by encouraging you to question consensus, debate it, test it then analyze it to draw meaningful conclusions. Training smart is not a necessity.. but if you want to train efficiently and effectively intelligent thinking in the gym is a necessity undoubtedly.


Strong Body. Strong Mind.

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AJ Roberts is back!

If you follow the sweaty, grunting, often bloated world of American geared Powerlifting you will probably have heard of AJ Roberts. If you haven’t, where have you been? He is one Strong guy. A strong English guy to boot, which is always good to see on the world stage of any sport.

Recently AJ retired from Powerlifting and set out on a new path into crossfit. As he titled it. AJ Roberts – From strongest to fittest.

There was no hiding the disappointment of the powerlifting community. They were losing one of their favourite sons, but the charisma and the humble nature of the man ensured those who’s opinion mattered sent AJ on his way with nothing but admiration and support.

That being said…He’s Back! Here is a Facebook status AJ just posted today 26th March 2013…

After a year away from the platform I’ve decided it’s time for me to get back in the game. My first meet will be USPA North Americans at the San Jose Fit Expo June 28-29th. Planning on competing at 242 in the classic raw division.

Perhaps that means the Crossfit dream is over. Who knows yet. I myself would love to see AJ back under a barbell. Only time will tell; I for one wish him the best of luck with whatever he chooses.

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