It’s sad how much mudslinging goes on on the interwebs. No matter how nice you try to be, there will always be some douche bag who starts acting-a-fool on you. I have very little tolerance for rude behavior. And even less when it isn’t done in person. Sadly, much of what passes for “discussion” on the web (forums, blogs, etc) is really just a bunch of cock-grabbing, egotistical, macho crap. In the Strength and Conditioning community, it’s often worse.
Bret’s got a post on the topic here.
However, this blog isn’t about facing and handling opposition; it’s about how we conduct ourselves as professionals in the industry. Now, I’ve never been the type to swim with the current. I don’t “swim upstream” for the sake of creating controversy; I like to think that I think of shit that other people don’t. Furthermore, I’ve never been very “professional” in some regards. I have an eyebrow piercing, sometimes I rock a fohawk, I tatooed my initials on my arm, I’m certainly not the best-dressed trainer in town, I swear quite often and post pictures of scantily-clad women in my blogs, and I train out of my garage for Pete’s sake. Come to think of it…by some standards I’m one of the most “unprofessional” trainers in the industry.
However, I still have some strong ethical standards. There are simply some lines that I don’t cross. There are two movie quotes that come to mind.
First one is from From Dusk til Dawn, George Clooney’s character: “I may be a bastard, but I’m not a fucking bastard.”
On my blog, I automatically delete comments if they are blatantly rude. I have a zero tolerance policy. I practice Zen meditation for god’s sake. I’m not interested in a pissing fight with some dude I don’t even know.
But, honest debate is very important. Being able to discuss a topic, disagree, and hash out the details with a person who lives nowhere near you is one of the BEST things about the web. However, just like with road rage, when you don’t see the person face-to-face it is far too easy to get “all worked up” and take things too far.
1. Some of you may remember the stupidness of Lyle and Ripp’s online battle about the bodyfat percentages of one of Ripp’s clients (simply Google “Lyle vs. Rippetoe’”). Yes, that was the argument. Ripp claimed that his guy Zach was a lower bodyfat percentage than Lyle thought he was. Ripp was simply proud of a kid who went from skinny and weak, to bigger and stronger. He certainly fudged the percentages a bit, but what ever. Lyle flew off the handle and canceled a podcast interview he was going to do with him, blah, blah …
2. Before this, Lyle and Glenn Pendlay had it out over a video Glenn put up of a lifter of his doing front squats. The kids knees buckled in on every rep. Lyle flipped out and basically said that Glenn was a horrible coach, how could he allow this to happen, monkeys were falling from the sky, and hell was freezing over. Glenn’s response was that he’d been working with this kid on it for a while, the knees were actually better than they’d been, etc. Lyle – who clearly doesn’t coach people enough in the real world – couldn’t take it and it ended their relationship.
I’m not saying there isn’t something funny about watching grown men and women act like little bitches in public. But, come on! (Lyle has a LONG history of burning bridges – sadly.) These guys could have simply disagreed, moved on, and still had a solid (and productive) working relationship. Instead, they are no longer speaking to one another. Stupid.
[Granted, using Lyle McDonald as a case study is rather biased. He’s infamous for being a little … over the top. But, it makes the point that this stuff happens.]
3. Another case is when Mike Boyle called an end to all squatting. He believes that traditional back and front squats on two legs are overrated for most athletes, and are too prone to causing injury. I disagree with him (well, I agree about back squats), many coaches do. But, that wasn’t enough. He started getting hate email, he was “called out” in horribly non-professional ways, he was accused of being an idiot, accused of saying it just to sell his books, etc.
In other words, instead of getting into substantive arguments about the merits of what he was saying, he was attacked personally. Stupid. Mike used to be a Powerlifter for heaven’s sake. He certainly knows a thing or two about squatting. It’s one thing to disagree on the points of an argument. It’s another to be a punk ass.
This kind of behavior is so common it causes a lot of coaches to be rather hesitant to express their real views. It isn’t for a lack of conviction in the views themselves but rather a lack of wiliness to get involved in childish behavior. Who can blame them?
The internet brings out the worst in people in more ways than we’d like. But, it can also be a great tool for communication and information dissemination. We just have to mitigate the darker sides of our nature.
Keeping it real, in my book, means keeping it civil.
7 Of My Own Controversial Views
So, on that note, and just for fun, here are a few of my own potentially controversial views.
- The Bench Press is bad for you (or at least for most people). Unless you are a powerlifter, you probably don’t need to ever do it. My rule is, if you can’t do 20 beautiful clapping push ups, you have no business getting near a bench press.
- Anyone can learn to do the FULL Olympic lifts – and athletes should do them. None of this cutting it short crap that most coaches do (relying only on hang and/or power-versions) – to me, that’s like doing quarter squats. Doing them from only the hang position causes bad learning habits that translate to a poor transfer of the skills you’re using them for in the first place. Doing the full lifts is where (I believe) most of the “magical” qualities Oly lifters have come from – the same qualities people are after when incorporating Oly lifting into their routines: vertical jump, quickness, explosive power, transferable strength, etc.
- Any athlete can learn to do a “passable” FULL Snatch and Clean and Jerk in about 1 to 3 months. Look … these lifts are hard, but they ain’t THAT hard. Sure, the general-fat-public might be totally incapable of even doing bodyweight squat. But, I have never seen an athlete – defined here as someone with a history of serious physical activity – who can’t learn to do a snatch and clean and jerk in short order, and without it taking up all their time. NOTE: By “passable” I mean legal in a sanctioned USAW contest, and safe for the athlete.
- Most Coaches are sooo God-awful at teaching the Olympic lifts that point #2 should probably be ignored! eg. Stop humping the bar!!! You should NEVER smack the bar with your hips to get more force on the bar. It is not only artificial, it throws the bar forward, and prevents you from doing a true vertical jump – it is also dangerous! Bad, bad, bad.
- Most Strength Coaches are too hard on CrossFit. Yes, CrossFit has its problems – not the least of which is the creator Greg Glassman. For instance, it often gets rank beginners to do tough exercises with too much intensity long before they are ready, which dramatically increases their risk of injury. They are fond of high rep Oly lifts (though not as much as is made out), and that is just insane. But, in the end, it is something that is physically demanding, extremely good conditioning work for folks who are physically able to keep up, people love it, and it has made Olympic lifting FAR FAR more popular than it ever would have been without it. Adults should be allowed to engage in activities that are higher risk. That is their right. And if they get hurt, well, too bad. They chose to do it. We should get off of CrossFit’s back. (I’d rather complain about Yoga … but that might get me killed.)
- Olympic Weightlifters need to do (a lot) more upper body work. Olympic weightlifters avoid doing anything at all that might be construed as bodybuilding. They tend to hate bodybuilding and the entire culture that goes with it. This is a childish stance that has to go. While the top elite (Bulgarian, usually) lifters rarely if ever do dedicated upper body work (though the Chinese do a lot of it), never forget that they are YOUNG and on DRUGS. It’s been said before, and I think it is true, that generally lower body injuries are caused by something you did, and upper body injuries are caused by something you DIDN’T do. The biggest injury complaints among lifters in our sport are wrist, elbow, and shoulder. If Oly lifters simply added in a bunch of chin ups at the end of their workouts, their joint pain would drop down dramatically … don’t hold your breath, though.
- The sport of Olympic weightlifting is elitist and is largely run by people who are driving it into the ground. If they don’t find ways to open it up to a wide recreational public, the sport will die in the US. I’m on a mission to make our sport truly accessible to the crowd out there of people who are adults looking for a cool recreation sport to get involved with that makes them feel strong and athletic. This crowd is HUGE. It is untapped largely in Olympic weightlifting. And it needs to be exploited. We can literally quadruple our numbers if we simply get rid of the BS elitism crap, stop focusing only on young people (we do this because they are the only ones who have a chance at winning nationals or getting to the Olympics), and actively market to people over the age of 25 – you know, people with jobs and money who can afford a coach and a membership to USA Weightlifting! If you get the numbers up of people having fun … the young ones will follow.