Saturday, November 21, 2009


Don't try this at home, or anyplace else!

Don't misunderstand me: I am impressed as hell that the guy in the video was able to perform these moves without killing himself or anyone else in the process. But as a workout I think this is pretty dreadful, and here's why:

When I'm putting together a workout for a client of any level, the question I am always asking myself is: is this the least risky way to get the job done? In my opinion it's simply irresponsible for a trainer to choose unnecessarily unsafe exercises no matter how "cool" they are. If there's a safer way to get the same training effect, that's what the trainer should choose for his or her client whatever that person's level of fitness.

Mind you, I'm not saying the trainer must avoid all risk. That's simply not possible. A training program always involves some risks. About the only way to be sure of avoiding an exercise related injury is not to exercise, and that's a risky course in itself. We all know the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle! Exercise of some kind is pretty much always the safer option.

But beyond that, it's negotiable. When it comes to program design I have very few hard and fast rules. What's unacceptably risky for Client A may well be the safest alternative for Client B. Just as an example, say Client A is a hypertensive gentleman of 58 who hasn't seen the inside of a gym since his college days, and Client B is a twentysomething who's been involved in sports consistently since his high school days, and is prepping for his first powerlifting competition. Both gentlemen have a stated goal of getting stronger, but their programs and the techniques I use with them are going to be completely different. I'm not going to be having Client A using heavy loads right away, because his joints can't handle it. And I'm going to coach him not to hold his breath during the concentric phase of lifting, because he can't afford the temporary spike in blood pressure. For Client B, however, heavy loads are a must, and the additional spinal stability he will get from holding his breath makes that the less-risky alternative for him.

Always be suspicious of a trainer who speaks in terms of absolutes!

That being said, it's hard for me to envision any set of circumstances under which a combination move consisting of a TRX suspended lunge segueing into a kettlebell snatch would be the safest option. In such an unstable position I don't see how it would be possible to generate enough power at the hips to perform the snatch correctly. Maybe with a very light kettlebell ... but then wouldn't it be safer and better and equally as effective to superset TRX suspended power lunges with kettlebell snatches using a heavy enough weight to challenge an advanced athlete? It might not look as cool, but who cares? The point is to improve the athlete's conditioning, not to make him put on a show for the amusement of spectators and the greater glory of the trainer!

What do you think?