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Sometimes Old School is the Right School

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) sent out an email survey to its members and certified professionals asking them what the new trends in the fitness industry are for 2013-2014.  A few of our staff chuckled as we clicked through question after question about the latest and greatest fitness fads.  It left me thinking, “Who cares if this stuff is “new” or hot… shouldn’t we be more concerned with whether or not it PRODUCES RESULTS?”  The fitness industry (including everything ranging from health clubs, personal trainers, infomercial gadgets, and fitness/wellness magazines) is as guilty as any industry of hyping what’s new.  I’m all for continual improvement and innovation, but new doesn’t mean better… it means, “new.”  This line of thinking led to the development of our new “Group” workout card at Discover Strength.  We named the workout card “Legends” because the three workouts come from three mentors of mine that are truly “legends” in the field of strength training and fitness.  Each workout finds it’s origin in a different decade; one from the 70’s, one the 80’s, and one the 90’s.

Arthur Jones, the founder of Nautilus Sports Medical Industries and MedX Corporation, developed the first workout.  In the early 1970’s, Jones published an advertisement in a widely read body building magazine that he could make any body builder’s arms grow 1 inch in 3 days if they flew to Nautilus headquarters in Florida to train under his guidance; and if he failed to deliver on that promise, he would provide full financial reimbursement for all trip expenses.  Body builders flocked to DeLand, Florida to take him up on this offer (and Arthur didn’t have to reimburse a single one of them).  A sensationalized marketing approach… and an awesome workout.

The second workout comes from Ellington Darden Ph.D., the former director of research at Nautilus and author of over 50 strength and fitness books.  The exact workout is a “triple pre-exhaust” workout that was featured in one of his classic tomes.

The third workout comes from legendary Michigan State University Strength and Conditioning Coach, Ken Mannie.  To be specific, he didn’t design the exact workout, but he and his staff did introduce each and every element of the workout to me during the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

We often tell clients, “These are new workouts.”  In truth, there is nothing “new” about them.  However, they are as effective today as they were 10, 20, 30+ years ago.  They are challenging, they are evidence-based, and they are “old-school” in every sense of the word.

Take home message: Productive training should meld the latest evidence-based discoveries (not trends) with “Old-School” tried and true principles.

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