Picking Bones

Jamie Lewis, one-time Powerlifting World Record holder, after preparing for a competition with his chaotic brand of training, including no deadlifts at all, wrote: “What I learned, training-wise…take everything everyone says with a grain of salt. There’s very little training advice I’ve gotten over the years that’s worth a shit.” My experience over the last decade of reading extensively on the topic of strength training in general, and powerlifting specifically, and putting multiple concepts and programs to the test, is that his statement rings true. Not only are there countless strength training programs out there, but the programs themselves change and often discard or refute their own premise.

Case in point: I’ve been singing the praises of Reactive Training Systems’ approach to powerlifting and after borrowing some of their concepts, I recently went all in and started working the program as laid out in the RTS Manual, as well as from the multitude of articles on their website. Over the weekend I was watching some of the RTS YouTube channel’s videos and wouldn’t you know it, inventor and head RTS guy Mike Tuchscherer posts a video indicating they don’t use Fatigue Percents any more. You’ve got to be kidding me… Significant pages of the RTS Manual were spent explaining Fatigue Percents, along with articles, Q&A, forum posts, etc. and now they’ve been discarded?! Disgusted, I stopped watching the videos.

To add an insulting amount of salt to my injurious wounds, Mike posted the following on Facebook: “It’s interesting to me that a 3-4 week block has become more or less the default training block length. After having tested a lot of athletes, I find it’s rare that lifters have finished adapting by the end of week 3. Some, but certainly not most, need a 4 week block. So far, the most common block length I’ve found is probably 5-6 weeks. I’ve had some go up to 10 weeks before, which presents its own problems. But 10 weeks is a far cry from three.” You’ve got to be kidding me (again)… The RTS manual specifically designs its programming in 3-week blocks of Volume and Intensity, with slightly different parameters for each. What’s next, throw out RPE’s and use percentage based training?!

I’m actually glad to see this happen. Always in search of knowledge for knowledge’s sake, looking to optimize what I do and become a subject matter expert in whatever topic I fancy, it’s counterproductive for me to latch onto someone else’s ideas and feel like I’ve finally arrived at the apex of information. It’s intellectually lazy and there’s no excuse for it. As I’ve done with all the other training ideas I’ve absorbed over the years, I will take the cream of the crap from RTS and add it to the bucket of steaming knowledge feces I carry around with me. To again quote the master of Chaos and Pain, “there’s very little that’s universal about weight lifting.

My advice to you kids out there: take in all the information you can, keep whatever is useful and flush everything else.




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