Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When you combine everything......

I wrote this a while ago as an article, but I've never done anything with it..... A lot of the concepts which I discuss will be broken down for future blog entries. My basic premise is "Get on a program, and stick to it!"

When you combine everything, you get nothing!!! (Training edition)

The internet is a great place when it comes to strength and conditioning. You can read various blogs, articles, and programs written by some to the top strength and conditioning coaches. You can also laugh and shake your head at the internet Hercules who has never even lifted a weight other than a pink dumbbell. This article is here to discuss the positive side of the internet, at least how the positive side can affect us in a negative way.

When I first began experimenting with “athletic based” training programs I decided to use Joe Defranco’s WSB. I followed the program to perfection. My weights went up, muscle mass increased, and I loved the “athletic” style of training it provided. I thought this is a great program and my gains are good, but I could make them better. I mean, I have been around strength training for a while, so I know what I’m talking about…… Well unfortunately I didn’t.

I missed power cleans, I used to love this type of lift and it provided me with some good trap development and I felt good throwing some weight around. So I added the clean to my lower body days. No big deal, I was still gaining and getting stronger. Then of course, I figured more would be better. I remembered doing snatches in the college football days, and I liked them as well. Combine that with the USA weightlifting course I took and I was “full go” with Olympic lifting.

So now you have a good program (WSB) and more CNS intensive work. Doesn’t sound so bad, but I didn’t factor in the plyometric work and Olympic lifts and the amount to volume I was performing on my lower body days. I also decided to add in more sprinting as conditioning work without adequate recovery. At this point I was getting leaner so I figured, everything is coming together.

Defranco’s website, along with, and, all provided me with a variety of training advice. Some of the blogs I was beginning to read encouraged me to perform a different exercise or variation of an exercise I was performing. At an NSCA event I heard someone say “If you read an hour a day in your field, you will become one of the top professionals in your field in 3-5 years”. I also heard the term “paralysis by analysis”. I didn’t put everything in perspective until I added more “programs” to my “program”.

Jim Wendler’ 5/3/1 seem all to perfect not to add to my training. It was based on actually goals and numbers to perform each workout. But of course, Mr. Wendler didn’t recommend bands and chains and I thought they were “necessary”. So here it is, “My Program”. Instead of a template I’ll just describe it to you to save you the pain and misery of putting everything together.

I did an upper/ lower split (M, T, Th, F). Max effort on Monday and Thursday and dynamic work on Tuesday and Friday. I did snatches on Tuesday and Cleans on Friday along with some other “Olympic” pulling exercises. For my main lifts I did the 5/3/1 programming and for the repetition work I did the Defranco style of training. If that wasn’t enough I felt the need to bench and squat with bands and chains every now and then.

Now that you’re thinking “What the hell was this guy doing”? I have to admit I liked all of the volume. However, I actually got weaker. How could this be? I was doing what the top strength coaches in the field suggested. I really thought more would be better, but through experience it proved differently. Sometimes less is more.

I am now following Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 with much success. Why? I am following the specific program and only that program. I spend less time in the gym and I recover better than ever. I am sure many of you have tried to add and mix programs. For those of you who haven’t, for your sake don’t! If you need a change from what you are doing, you cannot just add in exercises, sets, and reps. Something has to be reduced.

My advice is to pick a goal. Not get stronger, get leaner. Create a specific goal, such as deadlift 600 lbs by September 28. Reach 6% body fat by Labor Day weekend. Now, you have to decide what type of training will get you there. All training and programs have their place, but certain programs are intended for specific results. If you don’t have a goal and you are not lifting for a purpose, how do you know that you are getting results?

The strength and conditioning field leaves a lot of questions unanswered. However many things are answered clearly by the best minds in the industry. Research for yourself, discover a passion for knowledge, and develop your program that will get you to your goal. Just don’t do what I did or you’ll end up with nothing but a learning experience.

Damon Brobst, CSCS

I am a physical education teacher, strength coach, and personal trainer based Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I work with middle school students during the day and train athletes and adults looking to improve their physical condition early morning and late afternoons at Emery Wellness Center in Weston, FL. I am certified by the NSCA and USA weightlifting as a sports performance coach. I can be reached at

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