Is it Really the “Strongest” who Survive?

While we are dealing with the flood damage to our studio and operating out of a temporary location, it’s still been a rather exciting month of training at Breakthrough! We've had members achieving new Personal Records, and peaking performances at the end of training phases. We have welcomed some amazing new members into the fold, and have also had a chance to maximize the use of our coaching systems and programming technology. This has helped streamline almost every aspect of the training experience! Embracing tools and methods that can help us get even more accurate with improving strength performance, body composition and boosting endurance are always welcome, after all.

As we have adapted to an unexpected change, we’ve witnessed more proof that programming and coaching are the roadmap and trail guide for success in training. Consider this, if you’re not on a program, then your training sessions are akin to playing around at the park; it might be fun, and yes it’s better than sitting on the couch, but it isn’t actually taking you anywhere. It can, at worst, even be dangerous. Being on a program with a coach is more like climbing up a mountain. You take the safest and most efficient route, guided by an expert who has already been up to the top, with just the right number of stops along the way. And now GPS technology has made it even better. Using a combination of battle-tested programming principles, minimalist equipment and advanced technology, our members have demonstrated how effective this paradigm really is.


Not that long ago navigation was accomplished entirely by paper maps and/or someone to direct us. Los Angeles residents of a certain age might remember the "Thomas Guide” that we always kept under the front seat of the car. Somehow we got around without GPS enabled phones and apps to guide us. The old methods worked, but we did have to take a lot more time planning routes, asking for directions, listening to traffic updates on the radio and still had to suffer through a lot of getting un-lost! Then technology stepped in and gave us incredible turn by turn navigation. The trade-off has been that the number of side-streets, u-turns and impossible maneuvers our devices prescribe can occasionally defy common sense, and a subservient adherence to each robotic command can produce some outright comical routes to a given destination, but… progress. Programming and coaching has evolved a lot like navigation; it was once a very pen and paper (or chalk and chalkboard) experience that has since become highly driven by gadgetry. Author and expert coach, Alwyn Cosgrove, likes to remind us that out of this environment has arisen two of the lies the fitness industry likes to perpetuate; "1. Everyone is a completely unique snowflake and needs a brand new, never-been-done-before program. 2. Everyone should just do the same program. The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle." Even a trusted guidebook won’t be able to provide the best route for anybody to follow at any time. With that said, it’s not better to have a GPS that seeks out a course that no other travelers have ever taken before or that might be simply ignorant of closures, dangers or construction work. Ergo, the very best method would actually be to have a map, a GPS and a local guide who is up to speed on the very latest conditions. While this is far too much to hope for on most road-trips, it is exactly what you can achieve in semi-private training with a coach. Let’s get more specific and use a simple example of how this might work. Many athletes seek to achieve a high proportion of lean muscle and low body fat percentages. One proven method to get this result is through "Hybrid Density Training.” Research tells us that we’ll need to prioritize strength and we’ll need to affect metabolism. So if we collect and reference data as to an athlete's capabilities and couple an appropriate intensity of resistance training (strength) with an element of loaded cardio (metabolic conditioning), we're already most of the way to achieving good results. This could be something like doing heavy kettlebell grinds and a volume of powerful ballistics with a specific work and/or rest period. Our members will recognize this formula immediately as a signature of ours; tough, but effective. Using the navigation analogy once again, this would give us a map and a GPS.


The more subtle "secret sauce" element is introduced in how the density variable is applied and the training sessions are managed. This is where a coach might reference an athlete’s rates of adaptation and apply it to periodization over time to either incrementally reduce the overall time in which the same workload is being completed, or increase the workload within the same timeframe. They might also tweak the program to suit the needs of an athlete on a given day, taking into account unforeseen variables like incomplete recovery or injury. With a program to follow, and technology capable of recording, graphing and projecting training volume (reps), intensity (loads) and time (well… time), we have a much better chance of staying on the direct path to success. But with a coach to act as a guide, we can also ensure that we are avoiding or overcoming any obstacles or dangers along the way. Taking a proven program and individualizing it just enough, adjusting it slightly from session to session as needed using interactive technology, coaches are able to take trainees where they want to go with the greatest efficiency. Programming principles and coaching methods like those used in the example above can be applied in a general “go by feel” fashion, if one isn't as concerned about peaking on demand (a more relaxed, scenic route), or in a closely regulated method like a competitive lifter would use to peak on a specific day.

Seeing the success of our members in our more minimalist, temporary relocation, we are renewed in our commitment to push technology and methods in ways that can bring about a better tomorrow on a grander scale, as soon as possible. We’re not headed for a tomorrow that looks just like our pre-flooded state, but a bigger, better and more efficient one. Charles Darwin famously said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one more responsive to change.” That would be us!

Cheers! Caleb

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