Organic Machines vs Manufactured Machines
If some of your life choices include imposing force on other folks, you might either be a dictator or a trainer. Although dictators seem to spring up with an odd (and frightening) ubiquity around the world, they’re numbers are dwarfed by the fitness mitosis that seems to create trainers in vast numbers, all duplicates of each other. The titles might differ… personal trainer, coach, strength and conditioning specialist, and good intentions might have started everyone on their chosen path. But subjecting another human to possibly dangerous forces should have a few more requirements than personality and good intentions.
In fact, the dubious job of changing lives through movement could be quartered into sections of equal importance:
These are not reserved traits for just trainers, but anyone wanting to pursue the strength arts to any degree. Here’s a minor run down of each category…
Technique: the How. Short term considerations: the safest, most effective goal oriented movement. Not always “efficient”. Long term thoughts: longevity of body. In other words… do shit right or suffer the consequences. Maybe not today, but give it time, my friend… give it time.
Program Design: The What. Goal oriented movement selection and execution. What path is going to provide to best outcome?
Personality: The Who. Motivation, support, leadership. The personality might show itself in the vibrancy and enthusiasm of an entire community, yelling about the beauty in their particular brand of pain, or it might be the volume of a single person, so loud that it strips you of any need to think for yourself.
Purpose: The WHY! The big missing component in a great deal of modern training.
Today let’s chat about Program Design.
We’re born with potential. This is what separates us from the other fauna on the planet, and that ain’t meant as a boost to the esteem of our species. Other animals meet their potential through preset software. We’re factory installed with only a blank map, an empty guidebook and a big machete, and if your tribe does its job of lurnin’ ya right, then you’ll end up pretty darn skilled at using that machete to chop through the jungle of bullshit.
We’re manufactured from some DNA that demands a gallon or so of blood, sweat, toil, tears, terror and tenacity to gleam to most out of our flesh packets. We’re machines of a special type. Organic, biological. Not quite the perfect movers that some of the recent training protocols are hoping we are. In other words, we are not built for many of the workouts our bodies are put through, at least not without some serious practice and training. The high rep workload trend seems to forget something crucial, a little point that Tommy Kono likes to drill into our heads every time he visits:
Practice makes PERMANENT.
That 50 rep set of pushups your WOD might call for today might see a handful of something that might be called a pushup towards the beginning… lets say 10 actually look good. Then the next 40 might turn into slop, just because you’re under the clock and gotta do those 50 with the goal of speed trumping all else. This isn’t program design, this is a joke. 10 pushups that might help the body, and 40 that suck… a 400% practice of slop.
Practice makes permanent… guess what you’re practicing?
And we need to get serious. Yanking the bar from the ground to your chest 30+ times in a row will have no real chance of making you better at an actual Olympic lift. But since that’s not the actual point of a 30-rep set, maybe we shouldn’t even compare it to olympic lifting technique. It’s a new beast, and the impact on your organic machine might demand questioning as to why you’re doing it.
Workload is not technique practice. But now that workload and power output have trumped maximum force development as the ruler of the programing kingdom, then our organic machines are falling victim to this backwards trend.
Backwards? Yup. Strength trickles down. Having a solid base of maximum force development (MFD) transfers greater to skills and skill chunks. That is the foundation we should build on, and bringing up our work capacity and power output is simply a tool to utilize that max force development better. Power output (GPP, Metcon, etc) is simply applying our ability to generate force on a broader scale. It also helps us sustain a larger training schedule to get towards those increases in max force development.
In other words, power output supports MFD. It is a helper in a cycle of generating greater force. It is not THE foundation of a program, but a tool to help support what should be the foundation, which is MFD. And to generate maximum force properly, ya might wanna work on technique.
An athlete with mad skills in MFD will be able to train down the spectrum of strength into high rep workload training far easier than the opposite. You can make a quality Oly lifter good at CF or endurance feats faster than going the other direction.
Point being there is more to program design than workload, but so many of the trends in physical culture right now seem bent on more, faster. Not more, BETTER, which has been the fool-proof plan of the truly strong for centuries before hand. The body likes a good challenge. Good as in quality. There can be volume only if the quality is maintained. Otherwise it’s anti-fitness.
A manufactured machine is ready for it’s purpose once it leaves the factory floor. Rev that sucker up and expect horsepower, that’s its purpose for existing and modern technology lets us create it so it can do its thang fresh out of the box.
We’re not that machine. Our organic nature means we’re a machine that builds itself. if we skip this building process, we will break. Something we share with the manufactured machine is the little characteristic of a flaw perpetuating itself. If a machine begets a minor change in its structure that even ever so slightly changes the original plan of its movement, this will lead to wear and cause big problems eventually. In other words, anything that changes the correct process of the machine, no matter how small, will make a big mess at some point.
As an organic appliance, not only might your physical systems not yet be up for huge horsepower tasks, you might not even have the benefit of being programed with the right idea of what movement should be, especially if the workload demand is high. High rep-for-speed training, especially for a beginner who never learns anything different, can easily skip the steps of embodiment. Doing MORE will actually shut down the communication between mind and body. It becomes trauma control time, and the mind switches to ‘just get through this anyway possible, ‘ which are never buy-words for quality. The body, or mind, doesn’t learn the movements. The dialog has ended and the workout has actually become a greater stress on the body than previously existed.
Plus, the chances of your biological packaging acquiring a misfire in its performance is way beyond that of a manufactured machine… heck, it’s almost mandatory. And the consequences are a bit more dire. Our machines, pretty amazing regardless, need programming and practice to be the best machines they can be. Remember that next time you feel like attempting a high rep-for-speed workout. Do you truly know the movements? Are you built and programmed for it yet.