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From Huge Arms to Booty Fads

I have been in the fitness/ strength and conditioning industry for an incredible 21 years now. I fell into this industry by fate and have never woken up a day since that I haven’t been excited to get to work, learn and share all things healthy. When it comes to fads, I have seen them all! The 5×5 strength program, HIIT training, Crossfit, Bosu ball, kettlebell master Pavel Tsatsouline, Paul Chek primal movement patterns, the 7-minute workout app, the push-up challenge, restricted blood flow training to increase your arm size, French contrast training, The Brazilian booty program…The list could go on for this entire article! The one thing all these programs have in common, they specialize. If you read the last article I wrote, you’ll know that specialization equals limited potential. 

Honestly, I have seen it all and tried it all. Yes, tried it all. The reason I tried all these fads is because a huge part of my success in training wasn’t my sports science background, it was that I was current, understood how programs worked, and more importantly how they felt! I have used the fads my entire career knowing full well they would burn out in 3 weeks to 3 months. It is how I used them that is the key.

Fitness is such a unique space, especially with youth, I don’t like repeating myself but being a person of influence around youth in a healthy context is the most important job on the planet. So, I use these fads and trends as a way to build trust. As a coach, I want my students to have a completely open relationship with me, and ask me anything and everything. The last thing I want to do is shoot down something that has given them the inspiration to move! So we try stuff and we document it. We assess intelligently, if it is a 5×5 program they bring me, we do a bench test, core test and one cardio test. I then support the initiative for 3 weeks fully. Then we assess again, what happened, what got better, what got worse? why? This is how you build knowledge in youth; you provide the framework around them to explore.

If we take this 5×5 example fad we can provide the environment for the student to learn a lot in 3 weeks. First, they do a self-assessment. This creates the skill sets for them to have autonomy and strength in deciding what they wish to do or not do for the rest of their life. So, we give them the framework, of course, a strength test like a bench will get better from a 5×5 program, but will a core test or a beep test? This is where we build knowledge in the youth we work with. I fully support the idea of trying anything fitness, but I put it in a system where they learn how things affect different aspects of their health. On the 4th week when we reassess, of course, the beep test did not improve and that is fine, who cares. What I want to happen is for the student to see and feel what happens when they do certain programs. This then creates what I mentioned in the beginning, questions. Coach Cal, I really don’t care about cardio, and this 5×5 program improved my bench by 15%! My response is: Okay, would you like to do it again? What if your cardio suffers more? Don’t you play hockey? This is now a high-quality learning environment, student-driven! Without the structure and framework, what do we really teach them, try stuff of interest, have no understanding of if and how it works. Not necessarily the skill sets we need in our youth entering the world today! 

By encouraging them to try things you promote learning and by giving them the framework of reflection you give them independence and knowledge.

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