This one’s sure to stir the pot and get blood pressures up…
I was talking to one of my longgggggtime good clients on
Saturday (She’s been with me since before I started using
KBs – so over 10 years…) and she was telling me about
one of her friends who had spent 2 sessions working out
at a very popular workout franchise.
(You know the ones I mean – they call themselves “boxes”.)
Anyway, my client’s friend was relating her experience to her
and was complaining about how sore she was. And not normal
soreness either – but sore to the bone soreness.
She then described one of the exercises she was doing – some
kind of squat where you sit on a medicine ball, while holding
another medicine ball, and then stand up and throw the
medicine ball you’re holding at a target about mounted on a
wall about 10 feet from the floor.
The problem was, this gal couldn’t even squat to the med ball.
She would just plop on it and struggle to stand up. But the
“coach” just had her keep “practicing.”
What’s the problem with that?
Well, besides the fact that this poor lady couldn’t squat, the
“coach” was loading a movement pattern this lady couldn’t
Not only that, he was adding another movement to it – a
shoulder press and to make matters even worse –
And he was doing it explosively – having her throw a med ball
over her head.
So, to recap:
1. She couldn’t squat properly, so he not only failed to
address her faulty movement pattern, but he chose to load
2. He then made the exercise more complex, instead of
addressing the movement issues, by combining two
movements – an explosive shoulder press (throw) with
a poor excuse for a squat.
3. He did it repeatedly to help her “practice”.
See the problem here?
This “coach” has no idea, NO CLUE about what the HECK
Unfortunately, these are the stories I hear repeatedly.
Yes, I know there are good “Box” coaches out there.
Unfortunately, they seem to be the exception not the rule.
(If you’re one of them, thank you!)
Look, this “box” stuff started as a pretty cool idea – almost like
conjugate periodization, where you train many qualities
at once time.
The problem is however is threefold:
1. Improper program design.
You end up training for outcomes that have very little
relation to one another all at the same time – for example,
a max deadlift and being able to run one mile as fast as
Russian Sports Scientist extraordinaire, Dr. V. Zatsiorsky
says that’s basically impossible to do. In fact he states
that simultaneously training for strength and endurance
is one of the best ways to go nowhere.
2. Improper client intake and assessment.
This “box stuff” takes Joe Desk-Jockey and Jane Cubicle-Dweller
and with very little practice other than an introductory course
or two, throws SKILLS at them that take years to develop
(Gymnastics, Olympic Weightlifting to name two) and
turns those SKILLS into WORKOUTS.
3. Improper application and use of training modalities.
(Guess you could lump this under “program design.”)
I once trained a guy who later went on to get his RKC who
was a big fan of this type of training. The workout he did
before he came to see me was 30 Cleans followed by 30
Thrusters followed by 30 step ups – all in a row – with a 95
pound barbell. 3 times through. For time.
Now, 30 of anything with a barbell, except MAYBE high-rep
squats for hypertrophy is a BAD idea. ESPECIALLY if you’re
using the Olympic lifts or variations. Too much can and
usually does go wrong with your technique. Especially in
people who have poor technique already.
(Case in point, this guy had tweaked his back on that
If there’s another way to get injured faster, other than playing
in traffic or Russian Roulette, I don’t know of it.
So, an example here’s what you can/should do instead:
1. Decide your top 3 goals.
2. Train primarily for 1 for a month. Add the other 2 into your
routine, but not as a main focus.
3. The following month, train for the second goal, keeping goal
1 and goal 3 into your routine, but again, not as the main focus.
4. And month 3, train with goal 3 as your main focus, but keep
goals 1 and 2 in the mix.
Just to give you an idea, here’s what that might look like:
Goal 1: Add 25lbs to Deadlift
Goal 2: Press the next sized KB
Goal 3: Lose 10 pounds
1. Train DL between twice per week – once light and once
2. Train Press with moderate weights, moderate volume
3. Stop eating at the drive through / fast food
1. Train the Press with heavier, but not too heavy KBs,
working on increasing total reps performed, 2-3 times per
2. Stop snacking and fridge foraging late at night
3. Add DL assistance exercises in once per week and a light
DL once per week
1. If you hadn’t lost 10 pounds by this point, initiate a 30-
day challenge type workout based around Swings and
Snatches and stop eating carbs.
2. Deadlift is taken care of by #1 above.
3. Work on just your Press technique by using moderate
sized KBs for moderate sets and reps.
Pretty straightforward really.
The bottom line on this “box” stuff then?
Started as a good idea and I admire what was trying to be
accomplished. However, poor application on the programming
side of the house.
And programming is the KEY to staying injury-free and seeing
long term results – no matter the outcome.
Speaking of programming that will keep you injury-free and will
get you results quickly, here are over 49 different professionally
designed kettlebell programs.