Random training cannot produce specific results.
A while back, I was asked what my definition of strength was?
"to be able to call yourself a genuinely strong man or woman. One should not only possess the ability to lift a heavyweight for a single rep but should also possess enduring strength to be able to work relentlessly with reasonable recovery. The ability to miss a nights rest or meal without showing any ill effect. The ability work if necessary morning, noon and night with unflagging energy and a clear mind."
I whole heartedly embody this and it forms to underlying foundations of my coaching style. Physically hard training isn't just about developing the body it's about developing the mind as well!
To be able to do this, you must develop a robust and strong constitution which is prepared to handle any situation or event. And this doesn't occur by accident or by random training.In fact the very opposite is true.
If any of you reading this have followed my Instagram page for any length of time, you will see me repeating this phrase.
"Random training cannot produce specific results" - I post this at least once a month.
Now let me expand that to Random training Cannot produce continued long term results and training in such a manner is fundamentally flawed. This is, in my opinion, is the biggest downfall of Crossfit ( hold up I will come back and address this aspect shortly with some evidence).
Random training is fundamentally flawed because it fails to apply the basic principles of adaptation. Adaption means the adjustment of an organism to better survive in the environment. If the environment is changing the organism changes to survive the new environment. In biology, adaptation is considered one of the main features of living organisms.
At this point, it would seem that the best way to build robustness if to train randomly to develop a broad skillset to adapt to a multitude of environments. But one of the critical concepts of adaptation is overload. To bring about positive adaptations, i.e. performance improvements, an overload must be applied.
Adaptations will only take place if the magnitude of training is above the habitual level. If the Stimulus is lower than the current habitual level no increases will be seen. The Goal is to raise this habitual level over the period of months and years of training.
For example, a weightlifter with many years of experience may lift 50,000tons per calendar month, whereas a beginner would be crippled by this and is required to lift only 1,000 tons per month to see improvement.
I refer to the amount of work an individual can handle as their work capacity. An individual with an extremely high work capacity can handle a lot of work before they become broken down and exhausted. On the flip side, they also require a high amount of work to keep this work capacity. So as the weightlifter or athlete with high levels of performance is required to maintain this level of ability by ensuring that they lift or train with sufficient intensity, volume and frequency to avoid negative adaptations.
In order to positively increase work capacity, we must systematically alter the environment to demand more of the athlete to force continued adaptations. In other words the stimulus of the training session must be increased to break the new habitual level to force new adaptations to take place.
If we employ to same training loads for a long period of time adaptations, we cease to break the habitual level resulting in a maintenance of current ability but no further improvements.
If the training loads are reduced, the athlete's ability starts to diminish as it begins to adapt to its lower needs.
Adaptation works both ways!
Now because we understand this principles we can begin to see why random training fails in the long term.
Because there is no particular strategy to raise any one component of fitness or no structure to the volume or frequency we see a random increasing and decreasing adaptation cycle. Resulting in a potential increase, maintenance or decrease the thing with random is we don't know if you increasing or decreasing the training efforts as there is no structure.
I say Crossfit is fundamentally flawed because it fails to utilise these principles but it isn't just Crossfit it's any training protocol that fails to adhere to these principles. This is not a let's just bash Crossfit section as lots of people might be hoping. We could take these principles and apply them to any type of training strategy and increase the long terms results. And more importantly we can predict ones ability on competition day to a far higher degree.
We know that to raise one's ability we must train at a magnitude above habitual level, but to avoid detraining, we must reapply that overload frequently enough to ensure we take advantage of the supercompensation as a result for the previous session.
Now in order to develop a physically robust body that can handle any event of situation we must develop all fundamental movement patterns to the point that they become autonomous. All movements fall into one or multiples of these patterns.
Hip Hinge - Hip Dominant - Knee Dominant - Vertical Push - Vertical Pull - Horizontal Push - Horizontal Pull - Rotational and Diagonal - Anti-Rotation - Anti-Flexion - Anti-Extension - Anti-Lateral Flexion - Running - Bounding - Jumping
You must be able to show flawless competence in every single of these movement patterns whilst under a certain level of fatigue. Often in the novice stage of training we see athletes who are capable of demonstrating flawless technique but lack fatigue based technical break down. In other words as they tire they begin to uniter technique to just get it down instead of maintaining flawless movement. This leaves them open to injury in high intensity endurance events such as strongman. They should only train whilst maintaining good positions and the goal should be to increase ability to demonstrate these movements under fatigue or increasing fatigue if we apply some level of periodisation.
These should be systematically developed in a developmental stage. After this point, an organised strength and conditioning program to focus on increasing strength and strength endurance in these movement patterns should be used to raise the work capacity with a year on year increase. Applying the basic fundamentals will provide you with a huge advantage over opponents.
One of the most important aspects of strength and conditioning is developing injury resilience in athletes. Athletes become injury resilient when they have a well-rounded base of maximal strength developed in all movement patterns. Because they build stronger bridges! let me explain this.
Now imagine you have a bridge and its max capacity is 1ton and a 10ton lorry drives onto the bridge, would you be surprised when it breaks? Probably not.
This is not because the bridge is faulty its was a simple case where the external load exceeded the structural capacity of the bridge.
Injuries occur in humans when the external or internal forces exceed the structural capacity of the body.
So to develop robustness, we must increase the structural capacity in all ranges of motion.
Unlike the bridge, however, that cannot adapt to loads and has a maximum capacity. We humans have the ability to alter our condition by increasing the structural capacity via the principle of systematic overload. We can strengthen our bridge. Unfortunately, this works both ways in that if we do not provide it with enough stress, our bridge weakens meaning we cannot handle what we used to or become broken down by less and less.
The secret is ten years of slowly increasing the load we place upon the body.
So remember there is nothing wrong with random training but its a bit like trying to cross the Atlantic in a sailing boat whilst blind folded and wondering why you didn't end up exactly where you wanted to be.