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View Full Version : Five Myths About Training Athletes by Erick Minor


Allen Yeh
08-14-2008, 08:55 AM
If I've seen it once, I've seen it a hunó ... well, a bunch of times. A personal trainer or strength and conditioning specialist will make an assertion about preparing competitive athletes that goes against everything I've learned as an athlete and coach. And none of his peers will argue with him.

Before I get into the five myths, let me assure you that I do, in fact, train competitive athletes. A sprinter I work with, Darvis Patton, is heading to Beijing to represent the U.S. in the 100 meters and the 4 x 100 relay. I also work with major-league baseball players and other elite athletes, and over the past 11 years I've worked with hundreds of clients from all walks of life.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sex_news_sports_funny/five_myths_about_training_athletes

An article that is counter to a lot of the things being circulated in the fitness field for the last few years. It has a lot of similarities to what Charles Poliquin advocates. I thought it was a pretty well written article and worth thinking about a few things that were stated.

Myth #1: "You should train movements, not muscles."
I can see both sides of the fence here and I personally don't land in either and thinks it's more of a mixture of both.

Myth #2: "Single-joint movements are useless for athletes.
I never subscribed to this one to begin with and agree completely with what he said.

Myth #3: "Olympic lifts and plyometrics are necessary to improve rate of force development."
I'm not sure about this one but Poliquin really likes a simliar tempo for exercises as well.

Myth #4: "Full body routines are great for building muscle mass."
This is something that has been perpetuated the last few years by various authors and I never really understood because I think full body can be great for fat loss, maintenance or strength but hypertrophy always had me scratching my head.

Myth #5: "Agility training is the best way to improve on-field performance."
Interesting idea here.

What do you guys think?

Gant Grimes
08-14-2008, 09:52 AM
This is the most startling piece of information:

It's certainly worked for Darvis. In 2006 his best time in the 100 meters was 10.27 seconds. This year it's 9.89.

Dave Van Skike
08-14-2008, 10:09 AM
It's easy to beat up on absolute statements. But then, T-Nation is not known for nuance.




Myth 1 and 2.....I get it. muscles do need remedial attention.

at one end of the spectrum you have people focusing on the muscle contraction and position at the other you have folks breaking down big movements into partial range of motion...these are more similar than different. Both Coan and Karowski utilized single joint leg movements in training

Myht 3...I like the rate of force development discussion, I've gotten a ton out of training the power versiosn of teh oly movements and training the power lifts and strongman lifts (stone, keg, sandbag) quickly. A lot of stuff to be mined on both side of that fence.


That whole body stuff works great until you get really strong...then if you want to train frequently you need to break it up into upper and lower focus...or do a hybrid of split and whole body. Here's a template of a masters athlete who competes in strongman.it's not desiged for hypertrophy but it seems to deliver..

..it's so simple it just blew my mind.

Monday: Overhead pressing and Close Grip Bench...
Tuesday: 20 reps squats...the one set.
W: nuthin
Th: nuthin
Fr: nuthin
Saturday: Events....most if not all of them

Derek Weaver
08-14-2008, 11:59 AM
This is the most startling piece of information:

That was interesting, but my first thought was: how much of it was the natural progression of the athlete, and how much of it was semi-stiff legged deadlifts?

Either way, this was one of the best pieces on t-nation in a while.

Steven Low
08-14-2008, 12:24 PM
That was interesting, but my first thought was: how much of it was the natural progression of the athlete, and how much of it was semi-stiff legged deadlifts?

Either way, this was one of the best pieces on t-nation in a while.
You didn't like the Rip interview? :p

In any case, good stuff.


But I think the main problem (with such thing as the full body vs split debates) is that these authors like Poliquin are saying that splits are absolutely necessary which we agree with for ELITE levels. But for most of the populace that reads t-nation, I'd say they're probably novice-intermediate in their training time. In this case, a full body routine would probably work best (like Rip's SS).

Just ASSUMING most of the population (whatever that may be) needs say a split, for example, is just terrible for the most part. I have yet to see a flat out BOLD statement from any of the authors like this guy or Poliquin that say something along the lines of full body is great for novices and splits are great for elite athletes. Why on earth would they not say something like this which is absolutely true? And most of the people that are advanced in their training already know what they need anyway. No need to emphasize splits for novice to intermediate trainees.

It just makes it confusing for everyone who reads t-nation (of which I know a lot of people are definitely novices esp. some of my friends when they have to ask me if they should be using this split instead of Rip's SS). It's retarded.

Gant Grimes
08-14-2008, 01:30 PM
That was interesting, but my first thought was: how much of it was the natural progression of the athlete, and how much of it was semi-stiff legged deadlifts?

Either way, this was one of the best pieces on t-nation in a while.

I was just referring to the drop in his times. Assuming he was a high-level sprinter before, going from 10.27 to 9.89 is amazing. I'll have what he's having.

Derek Weaver
08-14-2008, 02:22 PM
Oh I agree Gant. I was just pointing out that the example the author used to substantiate his claims is a shaky one. If he'd noted that the runner hadn't improved for a couple years, it would be even more impressive.

I'm just being crotchety about it... as I am with most T-nation articles.

Allen Yeh
08-18-2008, 07:10 AM
You didn't like the Rip interview? :p

In any case, good stuff.


But I think the main problem (with such thing as the full body vs split debates) is that these authors like Poliquin are saying that splits are absolutely necessary which we agree with for ELITE levels. But for most of the populace that reads t-nation, I'd say they're probably novice-intermediate in their training time. In this case, a full body routine would probably work best (like Rip's SS).

Just ASSUMING most of the population (whatever that may be) needs say a split, for example, is just terrible for the most part. I have yet to see a flat out BOLD statement from any of the authors like this guy or Poliquin that say something along the lines of full body is great for novices and splits are great for elite athletes. Why on earth would they not say something like this which is absolutely true? And most of the people that are advanced in their training already know what they need anyway. No need to emphasize splits for novice to intermediate trainees.

It just makes it confusing for everyone who reads t-nation (of which I know a lot of people are definitely novices esp. some of my friends when they have to ask me if they should be using this split instead of Rip's SS). It's retarded.

The majority of the Poliquin stuff I have read have been T-mag articles but he does seem to be very set on split routines for the majority of peoples training. I think I may have only seen 1 or 2 articles where he recommended whole body training, one was the Supertraining article where a person was training like 10 times a week.

Derek Simonds
08-18-2008, 09:17 AM
Jesse Woody did that routine I think. The supertraining one that was absolutely ridiculous. The whole point was to get to where you were so over trained you couldn't go on. I think he had pretty good results if I remember correctly. I have been masochistic in the past but that one was even beyond me.

Anthony Bainbridge
08-19-2008, 08:55 AM
#1 & #2 kinda go together. He assumes that athletes are already smart/strong enough on important movements to identify weak muscles. This is somewhat common within strength sports like PL and WL (and mostly at very high levels), but ask a competitive rower what muscle is holding back their deadlift and more than like you'll get "dead-what??" as an answer. For the majority of athletes who need to spend more time on SPP than S&C, you don't want to be dicking around with insignificant assistant movements when there's still room for tremendous gains in the big stuff. Obviously this changes as they progress, but I think athletes at that level are pretty rare. Not to mention that most who would actually need that extra level of attention probably already have adequate levels of S&C for their sport and then it becomes a question of maintenance rather than progress.

#3 Are they "necessary" - no, there are lots of successful athletes who don't use them. Are they beneficial ... well, I do wonder if he's ever been punched/kicked/tackled by a guy with a good clean.

#4 I wonder if he finds it ironic that training splits changed around the same time that drug usage became popular. I also wonder if he realizes that size gains are going to be heavily dependent on eating. You don't go from a full body to split or vice versa while eating the same food and then suddenly pack on 50 pounds. And most Westside routines are going to include upper/lower (ME/RE/DE) ... you might do ME squats and DE bench, etc. Not to mention that Westside's athletes are at the highest level of the game, openly on drugs, and most amateurs who attempt to mimic the workload usually burn out or develop imbalances because they simply were not ready for something that advanced. I'm not saying splits don't work, BUT, for most athletes (who can only afford 2-3 days of strength training) full body with heavy emphasis on compound movements is going to give the best bang for the buck.

#5 I would truly like to see a football player maintain a TRUE 6% body fat for an entire season. They will fucking crumble unless they are a genetic freak. Although I do agree that agility drills are way over played and are more or less babysitter tools for a lot of coaches.

I wasn't impressed with the article at all.

Edit: Just wanted to say that I'm not attacking him, his character, or his coaching. He's probably got a ton of knowledge and is a great coach to his athletes. But I think it was a typical "stir the pot" article from t-rag.

Dave Van Skike
08-19-2008, 10:27 AM
I know a bunch of folks using westide that are drug free... the basic template can work really well for a lot of people. In fact west side for skinny bastards is a very good template for all around strength and power.

Also, there are a TON of masters athletes out there that need extra days of recovery and at the same time need to fit a training schedule into a normal workweek. For those folks, upper/lower splits for strongman and powerlifting are the only way to fit in the requisite intensity and allow full recovery. Myself, I go back and forth between high volume full body and medium volume upper/lower splits. For me full body high volume is base, the upper lower split is where I make big progress. It really allows intense workloads and good recovery...and AFAIK, I'm drug free.

Anthony Bainbridge
08-19-2008, 10:49 AM
My paragraph about westside was not a knock on their methods - they obviously work. But I think WAY too many people ask "what are the strongest people doing" and then jump on board without laying a foundation first. Now when you consider that too many amateur powerlifters do this and then compare how much strength a typical team athlete needs VS a powerlifter, it becomes very clear that for MOST team athletes, an advanced program like westside just isn't necessary. Does that make more sense?

PS - I know lots of drug free athletes using westside principles with tremendous success too. I have a friend who competes at 165 and has a 655 squat in competition and a 705 squat in the gym. The kid is a monster. He's also been training a long time.

Dave Van Skike
08-19-2008, 11:11 AM
Fasir enough. I was thinking more along the lines of strength athletes or speed athletes...not "ball players" ...but I'm biased like that.

What I meant to get at was more the idea that splits and split based programs requires either elite levels of fitness or drugs to be made to work...which we know to be bunk. For a lot of folks splits can be really effective, I think master's athletes and some atheltes in higher weight classes have similar challenges to elite strength athletes and "supplementing" atheletes, which is they have a disitinct need more recovery after intense sessions. but whatever, it all works.

as for drugs, let's not forget the beginning of the drug era is also the heyday of 5x5, Keys to Progress and all that...Anderson, Park, Bednarksi, all products of high frequency, full body lifting...that and little blue pills......

Anthony Bainbridge
08-19-2008, 12:01 PM
I should clarify that when people use the term split I am thinking solely of body part splits - ie, arm day, chest day, leg day, etc with a ton of isolation and machine work. I have no problem with most routines that focuses on big compound movements.