What’s the Difference?

I recently came across an old answer from the Q&A at EliteFTS by James “The Thinker” Smith. Anyone who reads this site or has spoken to me about training knows the immense respect I have for James and how much I have learned from him. I really liked this part of the response, as it actually runs parallel to a discussion I had with some of my athletes recently:

“People are confused into thinking that there’s something extraordinary about ‘Russian’ training. What they don’t realize is that what distinguishes the Russians and Eastern Europeans is the training is simply congruent with physiology and methodically planned to suit.

I recall that one of my critics from the Syracuse seminar wrote (on a survey) that he wasn’t convinced that I knew anything about Russian Training.

Perhaps he was expecting me to dim the lights, turn on the dry ice, and perform something out of the Matrix.

A squat is a squat, a jump is a jump, a press is a press, a pull up is a pull up, a throw is a throw, a sprint is a sprint…

Ah, but how should we organize these means, at what intensities, in what volumes, at what times of the annual plan, etc.”

The discussion I had with my athletes was that the difference between trainers, facilities, coaches, and what have you, lies not in their exercise selection. It lies in the ability to properly teach them, when and how to utilize them, and how to dose and administer them. The specific talk I was having was in relation to swimming – I’m sure that, no matter which swim club or practice you go into, they all swim. They all do freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke, and fly. The differences lie in the ability to teach, administer, and dose them properly. The same can be said for any other sport or training. If you are describing your training (or choosing your training) based on the exercises performed – you’re missing the boat.

The specific Q&A answer I quote from can be found here.

More from James can be found here and the rest of the Q&A (all authors and current answers) here.