Emotion and passion in training.

We’ve heard and read Charlie’s phrase “paralysis by analysis” so many times but how many of us really work that way? Could we develop better athletes by learning how to motivate them better or by giving them more complex training programs. By my observations, I have the feeling we are taking the emotion and passion out of training by having our athletes have to think too much. Not necessarily during the actual running or weight training itself but also before and in between sets.

For example, I volunteer at a coed juvenile center twice a week with “athletes” who have less than ideal attention spans and attitudes.
They are allowed to weight train twice a week. Many have had prior experience playing primarily football and track. Most have done a good deal of weight training already at the ages of 14 - 17. I can’t take credit for all of their gains as many of them show up big and strong.

Perhaps it is due to the fact that they can only weight train twice a week, but they attack the weights and are so competitve in the short races we have like you’ve never seen. Most are very aggressive by nurture so perhaps this is why. There training is very simple. Straight sets. No bands or chains. No iso holds. They wouldn’t tolerate that kind of training. They wouldn’t understand why they have to train that way. I know we only have to tell them what they need to know, but these people want to know why they would have to train that way. No suppliments and only 3 cafeteria meals a day.

Both the young men and young women that I work with have built very powerful physiques. All are extremely quick and athletic. A few examples:

17 yo female VJ 34"

16 yo male 315 front squat x 5

14 yo male 285 bench x 3

16 yo male 325 bench x 3

16 yo male 405 squat x 3 butt to floor

16 yo male 225 military press x 5 strict and slow

17 yo female 135 bench press x 20

17 yo female bw chins x 12 @ bw of 170 and dips w/ 25 lb x 8

17 yo male 495 bench 2 x week. 135 x 10 curls strict form
(Brother played DB for the KC Chiefs.)

Nearly all clean 225 x 5 with no problem.

Have we gone too far with complex periodization and fancy names for all kinds of training? Can a simplier way work with more emotion and passion.

Several years ago I remember reading an article by a strength coach named Steven Plisk (I forget where, it was either the NSCA magazine or Hardgainer) to the effect that, after years of trying complicated periodization schemes with their college athletes, what it really came down to was busting ass on a basic routine over time. It had more to do with the effort, patience and motivation than anything else.

I think Charlie’s system which was actually fairly vanilla (when you get right down to it), supports that. his atheltes busted ass (in an intelligent fashion) over many years. Hard work (obviously on a non-moronic program) + time + potential = results. Assuming what’s in his book is representative, Carmichael’s training of Lance Armstrong is not really any different.

I think, maybe, super complexity starts to play a role as you get to the elite levels and need that extra percent improvement. Until that point, I don’t think much of it is worth worrying about.

Also, psychologically, I think some people respond better to ultra-complexity (belief in the system being as much about results as anything else because, without belief, athletes don’t work hard). I know this is a fact when it comes to fat loss diets. Nevermind that simpler diets might work just as well, some people are more prone to sticking to a diet if it gives them a bunch of complications to follow. Similarly, some people far prefer the keep it simple approach to dieting (or training).

Perhaps the take home is that training/diet/etc should be tailored to the psychological makeup of the individual.


Maybe their natural testosterone is their gift and problem!

A funny/interesting book called “Texas Powerlifting” by Paul Kelso makes a statement to the effect that youth is a drug that has yet to be packaged.


qwert, why would I put up numbers that were not authentic. Just to waste mine and your time with an outrageous post. Because you’ve never seen strength like this it doesn’t exist? I already stated I had very little to do with their development so I’m not tooting my own horn. Also, these are “athletes” that I’ve had the pleasure to work with for short periods of time over a 17 year period. They aren’t all “housed” together right now.
Most where “mature” for their age. Secondary sex characteristics fully in place at 16.

“Country stong” “Hillbilly strength” “Old man strength” what ever you want to call it, they had it. No offense to the hillbillys. Another example I just made up for your entertainment qwert:

17 yo male, first day in the “facility”, 275 squat x 5 butt to the floor, not perfect form with no warmup.

Otherwise you would see people going in to the nfl out of highschool.

There is more to playing football than having strength. I don’t want to go into the long explanation on this.

Perhaps the take home is that training/diet/etc should be tailored to the psychological makeup of the individual.

Right you are Lyle. I’ve worked with a very intense, yet not very bright AHL player a few years back that couldn’t add up the weight on the bar. Getting him to superset pushing and pulling exercises… I might as well have been speaking German. He couldn’t follow along.

On the other hand, I had a football player from U of Miami who had turned pro and ran the gamet (sp) on training programs. He felt he had done everything that could possibly be done on the track and in the weight room and wanted something exotic that no one else was doing. Psychological he benefited from it because he felt superior in that he was training the way no one else in the league was.

Good point Lyle.

Great post and those numbers speak highly of your program design. I have to say that I have the opposite experience. Most of the time I have to hold my guys back in the weightroom. Even in the off-season, every athlete is so focused on working hard in the weightroom and they do not appreciate how taxing that can be on recovery. I am sure you have had this same issue to deal with.

I am not sure what you mean by complex program design. Personally I set up complex training routines varying the volume and intensity, but always with an end result in mind. I periodize chains, bands, isoholds and all other techniques throughout the program. I understand your point of view, but if the tools are available, why not use them?

Emotion and passion will eventually get you injured. Keep your head where it is supposed to be while training and don’t do anything stupid with 200 pounds over your chest or 400 pounds on your back. Hold back… there is no need to get every last rep out of every single set.

That is true but the reason highschool kids can’t go to the nfl is bec. they are big or strong enough. That is why there are so many hs players in the nba now bec. you don’t have to be strong for basketball.

My point is that high testosterone can help with strength but research with criminals show that low blood sugar and high Test levels is a common set of variables.

My avatar shows that my athletes are lean and ready…as for me I am clinically obese from dunkin donuts…perhaps Charlie could tell everyone about my gut.

Maybe it’s the pre-Beast transformation stage? :smiley:

Well … as Charlie asks … are you a training partner or a coach?

Just a joke…I am lean and mean…when you demonstrate olympic lifts and take supplements all day you got to be lean!

well, I’ve heard Dwain Chambers once talk about running for money. That was on TV!! So from the way he was speaking I felt that he had no much emotion and passion in training! I mean not as much as many others who are at a much lower level. Which makes me believe that training sience is a vital key to success. Specially when it comes to an event such as the sprints.

You can’t judge from the outside what an athlete feels on the inside. Presenting the best training program and conditions to a group of athletes that you can is all you can do.

nArKeD, they train along a periodized plan but only for several microcycles. Like I wrote, I don’t claim to take credit for their gains. Some only stay for 30 days others have been 6 months. Their form is never out of control with a exception or two. The only injury I’ve had in 17 years is a 25 lb plate dropped on a foot. I don’t know of any long term, overuse type injuries, even though I do keep in touch with many of them.

chris_p, thanks for the compliments. I suppose if I had other training tools to use they would be effective. But sometimes when these folks get into a set structured routine they don’t like much change. Many have had so many changes in their lives that a standard routine gives them a good regiment (sp). I like to change sets and reps and make small changes in hand placement, bar placement or foot placement but thats all. For example, going to a narrower stance in a squat usually means lowering the weight a bit compared to a wider, power style. Well some of these fellas and ladies don’t/can’t be seen using less weight then before. It’s a pride, heirarchy, dominant male/female thing. It’s all very competitive. Understand?

qwert, there is a HUGE difference maturity wise for a 17 yo 6’3" 235 linebacker going up against a 28 yo 325 lineman or tackling a similiar sized 26 yo running back. Without going into a lengthy post, a 17 yo football player has almost never in his HS career had to repeatdly (sp) compete against men of that size. He has no football experience to play at the NFL level.

HS’ers playing in the NBA? The only ones that come to mind that have had any success, and I may be incorrect, are Kobe, Stoudimire (sp), Garrnet, James and Moses Malone (I think). I may have missed some. With the exception of Kobe, all are built like men when they came into the league.
But Kobe can shoot the lights out. The HS players drafted in the 2003 had no impact on their teams except James. Only reason HS’ers are drafted are because GM’s think they can get them before other teams do and develop them into players. Head coaches have little to say who gets drafted. And when the team goes south, the coach goes not the GM because he’s tight with the owner.

I believe there where 8 HS’ers in the 2004 first round. You mean to tell me that these athletes are part of the best 30 players (I don’t know how many overall players where picked in the first round) in the nation, collegiate and of all the players available internationally? No way! HS’ers are the flavor of the month.

The point guard from St. Joes, Jamer Nelson is player of the year and he goes 20th?

Sorry for the rant. I’ll try to get my post back on track.

Those are impressive lifts. What kind of numbers were they putting up when you started with them compared to now?

Off topic about basketball…Stoudemire & James were the only (successful)ones not built like long distance runners. The physical maturity level cannot even be compared between basketball and football. You can’t even really compare college football to the NFL, forget H.S. With basketball it’s different though. Most players are skinny and weak. Think about how many in the whole NBA actually use their size to overpower. Only a few…Shaq, Wallace, Malone, a handful of others. McGrady was a stick when he came in league, and still is pretty skinny. I doubt the extra inch on his biceps made him better. You just don’t need to be that strong to play basketball, especially when you’re naturally reactive. It’s more about skill and finesse. I do think lifting is important, but it’s not nearly as much of a priority. That’s why I laugh whenever people seriously look at bench #'s, Derek Fisher’s arms, etc.

Most of these young men were very strong when they got to our facility. Where these fellas come from having an impressive upper body and big arms is a large intimidation factor. I can only take credit for some improvements in lower body movements and the girls. I can give a pretty good history of each of these guys and girls.

The girl that benched 135 x 20 was about 5’10 and 300 lb. She could perform hamstring curls with the entire stack, about 160 lbs for 10 or 12 reps. I think she could have benched for more reps but got bored at 20.

The 16 yo male 325 bench x 3 I had the chance to work with for 8 months he could bench 225 or so when I met him and just gained incredible strength over our time together. He’s naturally strong. 6’ 210 lb. 185 standing military press is easy.

The young man who can bench 495 x 1 was an absoulute special case. Sadly, he is now in a long-term facility. He had a very low, bordering on retarded, IQ with social and behavioral problems. He was placed in a different facility after he ripped a sink out of the wall and flooded the sleeping quarters. He was performing dips on the edge. “Trying to get a pump in my arms.” was all he said.

The 14 yo male 285 x 3 moved up from College Park, Georgia to get away from his rough housing project and got mixed up in some stuff up here. He only stayed 30 days. He was 6’1" 260 lb with low BF%. Had not done any weight training. Benched 225 x 8 the first day in the weight room.

genetic freaks for sure, and the teenage hormonal profile helps :slight_smile:

many of us can’t replicate these lifts even after years of training…

“Have we gone too far with complex periodization and fancy names for all kinds of training? Can a simplier way work with more emotion and passion.”

Follow the link and by this book if you are really interested in understanding different personality types. This man has and still does work with many of my athletes. His method are very effective and his list of client successes represent this. He has also published a book before this this one.


Impressive work

Personality profiling is important - to what degree we need to ‘study’ it though I am not sure.

P.s. - I would love to see his profile on Aker!!
(Just joking.)