By: David Emond
Here I am halfway through my third year of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo. It’s been quite the ride so far. Throughout my time here, I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some top-notch professors and other individuals on various training methods and the science behind them. I’ve been able to learn a great deal of anatomy, biomechanics and physiology to apply to performance enhancement.
Along my path to becoming a better athlete and a better trainer, I’ve looked into numerous resources from the best people in their industry, such as Kelly Starrett, Eric Cressey, Mike Boyle, and the works. I’ve read countless blogs on what you should do, and what you shouldn’t, and I’ve looked at my fair share of peer reviewed journal articles. Let’s just say, I’ve learned a lot.
With so much knowledge (and always looking for more) how can you go wrong with training, right? Well here’s the issue I ran into: I would pick and choose what experts I would listen to and only go by their theories while dismissing others. Even as a trainer, for example, I would preach mobility techniques from Kelly Starrett, or train the core musculature by Stu McGill’s theories and no one else’s. Don’t get me wrong these people lead their respective fields, but there is more to performance enhancement than just a few methods.
Let’s give you an example. I was training my front squat a year ago and reached a PR of 315 lbs. I then came across Kelly Starrett’s book and without thinking, immediately applied his theories on squatting to my technique. After the change my front squat numbers decreased and plateaued at only 285 lbs for a few clean reps. I had anterior hip pain as well as knee pain, so it was time for a change. After a bit of research and a few hours observing videos of some of my idols, I changed my technique, and voila – pain free squatting! Does this mean Starrett is wrong? Heck no! He’s one of the best resources for mobility work, however I am an individual, and his squatting methods don’t work for me. They work great for a certain population, but not everyone.
My Biggest Lesson (the one to rule them all)
So what is the point of this article? It is to share with you the most important lesson I’ve learned in my university career thus far. It is a simple one that many of us overlook or take for granted: Training must be individualized at ALL aspects. So why do we keep preaching the same techniques to large groups of people? Our philosophy should never be “this is how everyone needs to squat”. It should be “this is how patient A should squat, and this is how patient B should squat, based on their individual anatomy, mobility constraints, physiological makeup, etc.”.
What is the takeaway? If you are trying to learn and advance in your fitness endeavours, don’t stick to one or two sources like myself and many others have done. Learn as much as you can from various experts or individuals and develop your technique based on what works best for you. If you are a trainer, it is your responsibility to be open to various techniques if certain things aren’t working for a client. If you are an athlete or someone training with a coach, let them know if something isn’t working for you and explore the other possibilities to make progress.
Making progress in the gym is a learning experience with ups and downs. Now go out there and get learning, friends!
What lessons have you learned over your time spent training? Comment below and “like” us on facebook!
Dave is currently pursuing an education in the honours kinesiology program at the University of Waterloo, and hopes to one day become a medical doctor and/or specialist in movement. A former junior hockey player, Dave knows the commitment and work required to perform at optimal levels. He is a strength coach specializing with elite athletes, but also works with rehab patients. During his tenure at UW, he’s had the opportunity to work in Dr. Stu McGill’s lab, looking into core training and stability with prevention of low back pain. Since his hockey days, Dave has taken up Olympic lifting as a fitness hobby.