In my previous blog entry, I challenged everyone to reflect on what they’re thinking and doing to make sure there is actual evidence supporting their thoughts and actions. As a site primarily focused on sport training related discussion, I’d like to tie this in to a quick examination of two training philosophies that can currently be found on the web. In fact these two training methods actually have their foundations on the web and made their first public appearances on the web at around the same time. One of them has exploded to become the fastest growing fitness movement in the U.S. and the other has diminished in following and interest after a ton of initial interest. I’m not going to comment on the efficacy or appropriateness of either methods use for training for track and field but I do want to offer an objective unbiased look at why Philosophy A has taken off and why Philosophy B seems to be struggling to gain any widespread usage.
Philosophy A bills itself as an evidence-based fitness philosophy that is based on research methods and quantifiable results. While I could poke a couple research-refuted holes in some of their methods and its appropriateness for sport training, it certainly does an excellent job of quantifying adaptation metrics by using benchmark workouts that allow trainees to easily track their performance gains in workouts longitudinally over time. I think this is a key component to an effective training plan because it provides evidence, one way or the other, that a program is effective. And at least by the measures that Philosophy A measures itself, there are very clearly defined metrics for evaluation.
Philosophy B is another unique training philosophy that also claims to have methods supported by research. The methods used in this philosophy are quite unconventional and like the Philosophy A, I think some of the research interpretations that are touted as the foundation of their methods may be a little bit of a stretch. Overall though, I think that Philosophy B’s devotees can make reasonable arguments for what they do and why they do it. The biggest difference, however, lies in the fact that many of the training methods of Philosophy B make it quite difficult to quantify training adaptation. That is, it’s difficult to say whether the training adaptations are better than those achieved in more conventional programs. More specifically, the specific intricacies of the training system make quantifying workout loads, volumes and intensities a little more difficult; and really turn the assessment of workout performance in to a gray area. While many proponents of Philosophy B will argue that the actual competitive performances serve this purpose and that one can actually track training adaptations, I think most would agree that many of the methods make it considerably more difficult to quantify training adaptations and overall performance on a daily basis than in Philosophy A. As a result, Philosophy B’s followers are few and outsiders knock it while demanding proof of results.
So while Philosophy B may very well be effective, it’s harder to make a valid case for it because there isn’t as much quantifiable evidence. In contrast, Philosophy A is all about quantifiable metrics and its followers cite this very issue for their increased motivation and results. Philosophy A is growing exponentially because of its rational evidence-based approach and Philosophy B has become an increasingly more obscure training method whose claims are often mocked as absurd and without justification.
This blog was not intended to be an indictment or endorsement of either training method or even necessarily the arguments fore or against…more so, an example of the appeal of evidence. With that said can you guess which ones I’m referring to?