A couple years back a fitness coach and dance choreographer named Shaun T came up with a workout program to rival P90x. It was called Insanity. The Insanity Workout to be specific. If you’ve seen only a handful of infomercials in your life you’ve probably seen one for the Insanity Workout. Shaun T touted the workout as a butt-kicking, fat -blasting, high intensity workout, that took advantage of intervals to produce results. It was nothing ground-breaking for those who work with athletes. In fact, in many regards it brought what athletes have been doing for years to the general public (similar to P90x or CrossFit). From what I can tell it’s like P90x on steroids…..high intensity exercise with a variety of means and methods including strength training. All of which have been well established in the athletic development community as part of any good training problem. The only thing really ground breaking was that it brought these concepts to the general public. What’s interesting is that the product was branded as “insane” to make it sell. Meanwhile in the world of athletic development we’re increasingly seeing things that are border-line insane be touted as sound training advice.
If you spend any amount of time on the internet you can easily find arguments for any of the following:
- Why the squat is the most important exercise to increase speed (‘look at all the studies on D2 collegiate football players!’)
- Why heavy loaded hip thrusts are the key to sprint speed (‘look at JP Morin’s data!’)
- Why resistance training isn’t important to improve speed (‘Carl Lewis never even lifted!’)
- Why you should never back squat (‘You’ll hurt your lower back…and it doesn’t even train your legs!’)
- Why you should eat Paleo (‘Kobe’s doing it’)
- Why ladder drills are a waste of time (‘There’s no force application!’)
- Why teaching Olympic lifts is a waste of time and potentially dangerous (‘Have you seen Usain Bolt power clean?’)
- Why unilteral exercises are worthless (‘Powerlifters don’t do unilateral exercises!’)
- Why extended warmups aren’t beneficial (‘Have you ever seen a cheetah warmup?’)
- Why sprint mechanics are the most important thing (‘Ralph Mann has almost 30 years of data!’ )
- Why sprint mechanics do not matter (‘look at Weyand’s 2000 study!’)
- And on and on….
Many of the arguments are from ‘leaders’ in the Strength & Conditioning industry or at least appear to be leaders because of their authoritative web presence. Other times the statements come from people claiming to have strong sports science arguments and plenty of anecdotal evidence to back it up. In all cases, they’re wrong. Not completely wrong but wrong in the overly dogmatic, hyperbolic stance that is taken.
Most things are not black and white and athletic development is no different. There are many roads to Rome and even in the most focused training plan there can be an appropriate time and place for practically any training mean and method. The problem is that balanced, fundamental and SANE approaches to training don’t sell DVDs, certifications, books or specialized exercise equipment.They aren’t sexy. They aren’t ‘revolutionary.’ They aren’t polarizing black and white arguments that force you to pick a side. Don’t get caught up in the shuffle of internet debate.If someone tries to force you to pick a side pick a side be weary. Don’t mistake ‘new and shiny’ or controversial for sane training.