Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MSU programming - Part 1

CAUTION: HARSH WORDS AHEAD. Your MSU programming is probably lacking something important.

MSU stands for "Make Stuff Up." Well, not Stuff but you get it. Following MSU programming theory has some real implications.

I have some close friends who do a lot of MSU. But not all of their programs are bad, ineffective, or unbalanced. Many however are. So how do you know if you are getting the most out of your program?
  • Movement patterns - Good programming balances exercises in all of the seven major human movement patterns. To say one merely participates in "pulling" movements is not must pull DOWN, pull UP, and pull IN. And at each at different loads and resistance levels...which brings me to the next bullet point....
  • Balance of strength, power, and stamina - A truly hybrid schedule includes pure strength-building and power-increasing components that are quite neglected in many MSU programs.
  • Work in different metabolic pathways - Our current culture has embraced endurance athletes. Why? Many of them have serious limitations in anaerobic capacities. We must learn how to increase abilities in all human energy systems.
  • Training for sport or event - Specialized training needs to be specific. Whether for a triathlon or a StrongMan event, GPP must be supplemented with goal-oriented sessions. GPP is probably not enough.
  • "It sucks; it must be good" thinking - Just because it causes pain or sweating, does not mean it's profitable. Many routines with high "suck factors" aren't well-planned or effective.
  • Avoiding weaknesses - It's hard to repeatedly do the exercises at which we're not good. It's a frequent reminder of our vulnerabilities. But not addressing them isn't helping!
  • Over-reliance on a single piece of equipment - Have you been sold the perfect piece of fitness equipment? There is no magical kettlebell, Olympic bar, sandbag, or staircase! They all have their purpose and limitations. I appreciate each of these. But I can also live without each of them too.

There are plenty of points to be discussed (and hopefully debated) in the above list of topics. In this series I'll begin to address each of them separately. Don't know how yet, as many of them bleed together.

In the meantime, if you find yourself asking, "Hmmm, what am I going to do for my workout today," maybe your MSU is lacking something. I know I've fallen into that trap, and still do. As I write this, I am in the midst of following a completely new workout plan. This plan forces me to do that which I am not feeling up to, that at which I suck, and that which I have never even attempted before. In this program, I face a new fear each week. It is one trainer's perspective on what complete, balanced fitness means. Check out what I am doing here at CrossFit Phoenix Fire.

Don't let this first post in the series turn you off. It's meant to push you to become even better! And above all remember this: Poorly-planned functional training is still probably way superior to isolation and body-building routines ;)

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