seeking informed criticism of StrongFirst

johnnydeftonesa

Double-Digit Post Count
Rip has criticized kettlebells in several of his videos that I've watched. I've never heard him criticize StrongFirst or Pavel, but it's possible he has. He has called kettlebells a fad, and has taken issue with them being used to develop strength and power when, in his opinion, barbells are really the best (maybe only) strength and power equipment there is. Assuming you're healthy and able, why choose kettlebells over barbells? I would call it a min/max mindset. I could be wrong and I'm sure there is a bit more detail to his opinion.

I certainly had to come to terms with his viewpoint, because I love listening to him and learned a lot by watching his videos and reading his books. But StrongFirst and kettlebells have given me so much. So I respect his opinion, and agree or disagree with different parts of his argument.
 

Nate

Triple-Digit Post Count
A) Some good thoughts from Steve on the SCHOOL OF STRENGTH post:
Each of the different schools of thought can rightly claim success. What I call the American school, which is one heavy session per lift per week with a linear progression, has plenty of records to its credit. IMHO and I believe also in the opinion of others, part of its success lies in its ability to add muscle to a lifter. I also believe its success comes from being matched with the right kind of trainee, one who enjoys the challenge of marching up the ladder of heavier and heavier weights, culminating in a meet.

Progress can also be made in the skill of the lift by practicing it more often, and this, too, has yielded excellent results when matched with a lifter who enjoys this kind of programming.

The previous programming is absolutely not obsolete, the fact that PlanStrong's methodology has proven to be extremely effective not withstanding. (...)

B) Though i find the KB to be a great strength and conditioning tool (TGU with 1/2 body weight is not weak...), for limit strength or conditioning it wouldn't take you there alone. BUT, strongfirst includes SFL & SF Endurance, as well as individuals like Andy Bolton & Peter Park (and MANY others). So SF is clearly proven on the elite stage as well.

C. SF programs tend to be minimalist and repetative (yielding results) but difficult for some like me to maintain mentally. Is that a criticism of SF? More fair to say it's a criticism of me. Many temperaments thrive on routine. But i do this recreationally and enjoyment is a big part so i can accept that. Having done bro-lifting, (low level) powerlifting & crossfit, it's SF principles that i continually come back to for myself and others.

Good things & great people.
 
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Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
Any exercise that doesn't injure you is good for you. SF has programmes set to handle certain particular situations. If the situation is yours, the programme will fit. Other schools of strength teach for different parameters and theirs are often just as good for their own goals.

For S&S (which is my core programme, and I'll stay on it forever, and it works) the situation is:
1. You want to work out at home with minimal equipment. (The 2-3 kettlebells you'll ever need fit in the corner of your room)
2. You want to work out almost every day because you feel good after working out.
3. You want to get cardio-vascular exercise through your weight training. (Replaces running outside, which can be annoying)
4. You want to develop power through your training. (Replaces Olympic lifts with a barbell - the lifts are hard to learn and the barbell cumbersome)
5. You want to develop coordination, balance, multi-directional strength. (Barbells are pretty much just up and down in a square posture but kettlebells you swing and do getups with)
...so we're talking about the typical person who wants to become strong, conditioned and athletic but do it all in the corner of his room - this is who you need to be to want S&S for you!

I don't see how I can stay on it "too long". The longer you do something the more specialized and expert you become. As for transfer to other things I've gone from weak to "the monster" at judo over the past 3 years since taking up S&S. I suspect S&S has a great deal to do with this!

Critique of S&S from my viewpoint: it's a bit stressful sometimes worrying that the kettlebell might fly out of my sweaty hand (even with chalk etc) while swinging it or I might slip and drop the kettlebell on myself or my nice floor while doing the TGUs. The book actually recommends doing it outside (I think.) I think safety is a concern. It is not for the careless nor for the cowardly. I think these are fair criticisms and reasons why someone might choose to go with something else and not take up S&S.

For Naked Warrior, which isn't my main programme but something I have followed in the past religiously for about half a year total (not enough time to master it of course):
1. What to do with NO equipment at all.
2. It develops very good pushing strength with the arms and legs and also superior core strength and balance.

It lacks: cardio-vascular training and pulling movements. Pavel does not hide these lacks at all. Another criticism is that the one arm one leg pushup is hard to learn and the pistol (at least for me) even more so, the problem for the pistol especially being one of flexibility. It takes a while to develop both moves to the point that they become useful, although once you are there, WOW!!! Good things in life often take time and effort, so no complaints here!

I do have a criticism that there isn't an S&S-like bodyweight minimalist programme that isn't limited to the "no equipment at all" parameter. Having said that, Naked Warrior does recommend add-on exercises of jumping rope and deadlifting. But bodyweight is not the main thrust of Pavel's teachings. It is part of the whole. If you can put up a chinning bar for yourself then why not buy a kettlebell and stick it in the corner of your room?

The stuff works.

I have spent some serious time following the "Get Strong" programme by the Kavadlo brothers, which is a full bodyweight programme. They have their own philosophy for training which is different from Pavel's. I believe they are friends of Pavel (at least I read this in a few of the books.) A difference in philosophy seems to be that of being a bodyweight "purist" and also keeping on doing the easier versions of the same exercise (like regular bodyweight squats alongside one legged squats and archer squats) in order to get conditioning out of them, but also different kinds of movement patterns. Another difference is that the brothers don't seem to expect most people to get as far as actually doing pistols and one arm one legged pushups and are content with the student of strength maxing out at the "almost there" point, which in "Get Strong" is doing archer and wall-supported handstand pushups, and one legged squats on a stool instead of the more difficult pistol. The Kavadlos also include back bridges in their programme. Pavel says these are good but you may as well just find some way to deadlift somehow or other. Naked Warrior is intended to be a stop-gap for when you are away from your weights, but it can be trained in conjunction with weights if you like. Ah, also, the Kavadlos seem to include moves in their programmes for the sake of variety - I guess for pure "fun" but also for a variety of movement patterns (as already stated above). Another difference is the "Get Strong" programme isn't a GTG programme, and it emphasizes high reps but a low number of sets (2-3) of a variety of moves. The Kavadlo programme is less daunting, probably "safer" and more "playful" if that makes sense, whereas the Pavel programmes strike me as being tougher, more appropriate for a more serious stay-at-home athlete but simpler and more focussed.

I've followed some other programmes too, but I feel more able to comment on these above as I've done them for the longest. The student had best shut up and accept the teaching. Shopping around until you find a programme that you(I, anyone) thinks is the way it should be with your(my, anyone's) lack of knowledge of what works and doesn't will lead to finding some crap programme that doesn't work. So, if Pavel says to do Naked Warrior plus deadlifts and skipping, then this is what you do. Chinups aren't part of it! If he says to develop the pistol and the one arm one leg pushup, then you do it. If he says do GTG training then you do this. Guys who don't need to follow the experts are already experts - guys like Kenny Croxdale etc... Until I can do amazing things, I had better shut up and follow. Same for judo - my coach is a full time pro judo coach and competitor, his whole life. I need to just follow.
 

Jake Steinmann

Double-Digit Post Count
. The student had best shut up and accept the teaching. .
I feel the need to push back on this, because it's an incredibly dangerous attitude, and one I've seen used by abusive teachers (particularly in the martial arts).

The student is never obligated to "shut up." Students should be absolutely permitted to ask questions, to push back on things that confuse, frustrate, or scare them. Any teacher worth their salt should be able to explain the whys and wherefores of their program. If a program is causing a student pain or injury, they are not obligated to continue it.

Does that mean the student should go about changing and modifying a program willy-nilly? No, of course not. But there's an enormous gap between "you should follow the program as written, and if you're not sure why it's written that way, ask" and "shut up and do what I tell you."

*I understand that there are people out there who will just ask questions ad infinitum without ever doing anything, and there comes a point where you need to disengage from those folks. But that's a long way from "shut up and do what I tell you."
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
I feel the need to push back on this, because it's an incredibly dangerous attitude, and one I've seen used by abusive teachers (particularly in the martial arts).

The student is never obligated to "shut up." Students should be absolutely permitted to ask questions, to push back on things that confuse, frustrate, or scare them. Any teacher worth their salt should be able to explain the whys and wherefores of their program. If a program is causing a student pain or injury, they are not obligated to continue it.

Does that mean the student should go about changing and modifying a program willy-nilly? No, of course not. But there's an enormous gap between "you should follow the program as written, and if you're not sure why it's written that way, ask" and "shut up and do what I tell you."

*I understand that there are people out there who will just ask questions ad infinitum without ever doing anything, and there comes a point where you need to disengage from those folks. But that's a long way from "shut up and do what I tell you."
That's not what I meant of course. This is the problem with writing - it can't convey all that we want it to.

What I mean is that we should try to find someone who is skilled and accomplished and learn from them. What they say will be often at great odds with what we expect them to say, which is why we haven't been able to teach ourselves. It is indeed important to kind of just "shut up" and try to follow the programme.

For example, I really wanted to do the swings in S&S 2 handed. I felt more in control of the bell and that I could put more power into it, but the programme isn't written like this and after advice on these forums I just "shut up" and followed it properly and made a lot of strength gains. Why didn't make any sense to me but I shut up, did it right, and here I am swinging the 40kg single handedly whereas I used to swing the 32kg only 2 handedly. Honestly, I still do not really know why the 1 handed swings are better, but I sort of have an idea I guess. I just take it on faith. I can do what I want but I just shut up and follow and I'm able to do things I didn't think were ever possible before.

I never said students should not ask questions. However, there is a time for this - i.e. not too much of it while we're trying to get a workout. The number of people I've seen come into the club with preconceived notions of what judo is supposed to be all about and getting upset that it isn't what they thought and then leaving is quite large, and I've seen this in any kind of study (language etc.) For some examples I've seen guys think learning footwork is rubbish and also that doing some conditioning/warm-ups/warm-downs is rubbish, or that tactical grip fighting is absurd and other uninformed viewpoints. You can't have the student telling the teacher how to teach. It just doesn't work. You'll find some people who are very deluded thinking you can learn a second language without a basis in grammar. Hahaha!

As far as pushing athletes to hurt themselves, that's a bit of a jump from me saying one ought to follow a programme as devised. I'm thinking totally opposite from you. I'll give you an example. A few weeks ago I was coming back from a hiatus due to an illness. I got on the mats and felt a little bit weak and started the training session. After 25 minutes, my coach "kicked me off the mat" and sent me home (I ended up staying to watch the rest of the class and we chatted a bit). What he saw was that I was not keeping my balance well and that I was looking pale. I felt almost fine. It was my duty to shut up and do what I was told, and this was in order to protect me from injury. A professional coach knows these things.

If we're talking non-professional coaches who just do this stuff part time, I'm quite in agreement that we can't put as much faith in them.

But if you mean that students should be telling the teachers how to teach, I'm totally in disagreement with this. The best thing is to find someone who is highly skilled and learn from them. When you have mastered what you can from them, then you might be able to innovate or hybridize with other things. People can teach themselves too, but this takes a long time to equal what can be learned from a skilled professional coach.

Actually the "shut up and obey" part is CRITICAL for avoiding injury. Another example: I was doing a move that appeared dangerous to my coach on someone last week and he yelled at me to stop it. I obeyed immediately and everyone was safe and fine. A perky full of questions type person who thinks they have the right to boss their coach around might not have stopped on the dime and might have hurt their opponent. I'll add that I don't believe I was doing anything dangerous to this day to the other athlete, but this is beside the point. The important part is that the coach saw something dangerous and I stopped immediately, and look, everyone drove home safely!

I'm not a coach by the way.
 
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North Coast Miller

More than 2500 posts
I feel the need to push back on this, because it's an incredibly dangerous attitude, and one I've seen used by abusive teachers (particularly in the martial arts).

The student is never obligated to "shut up." Students should be absolutely permitted to ask questions, to push back on things that confuse, frustrate, or scare them. Any teacher worth their salt should be able to explain the whys and wherefores of their program... But there's an enormous gap between "you should follow the program as written, and if you're not sure why it's written that way, ask" and "shut up and do what I tell you."

*I understand that there are people out there who will just ask questions ad infinitum without ever doing anything, and there comes a point where you need to disengage from those folks. But that's a long way from "shut up and do what I tell you."
It should be reasonably apparent to an experienced lifter or fitness aficionado what is intended when reading a program. Many that have similar goals will have similar approaches to overload, backoff, peak, repeat. In my opinion the more technically involved a program, the fewer people will get top-notch results. Those that do are liable to get above average results. Likewise if you undertake a program expecting an outcome that isn't going to happen due to misunderstanding the goal, so questioning generalities and specifics should be expected - just do the work while you formulate those questions.

If it doesn't have the desired response one should definitely try to suss out what aspect was/is a bad fit or if the program itself was a poor choice.

Honestly, aside from people with sport-specific goals and newbies, most folks should be able to do a passable job programming their own efforts, or understand the programs they are running enough to tweak em to better fit as individuals.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
It should be reasonably apparent to an experienced lifter or fitness aficionado what is intended when reading a program. Many that have similar goals will have similar approaches to overload, backoff, peak, repeat. In my opinion the more technically involved a program, the fewer people will get top-notch results. Those that do are liable to get above average results. Likewise if you undertake a program expecting an outcome that isn't going to happen due to misunderstanding the goal, so questioning generalities and specifics should be expected - just do the work while you formulate those questions.

If it doesn't have the desired response one should definitely try to suss out what aspect was/is a bad fit or if the program itself was a poor choice.

Honestly, aside from people with sport-specific goals and newbies, most folks should be able to do a passable job programming their own efforts, or understand the programs they are running enough to tweak em to better fit as individuals.
Better to do a bad programme well than a good programme badly says Al Kavadlo. I think this may be in part what you are referring to, or at least this is what your post reminds me of.
An example for me was when I was running Al Kavadlo's "Get Strong" programme. He is a big one for giving the blessing to anyone wanting to modify the programme any way they want. I asked him about substituting dips for the handstand pushups and of course he said do whatever you want. But... when I think of it now, the programme isn't really set up for this. The handstand and handstand pushups are their own plane of strength and movement, so it was me basically screwing myself out of learning a good move, and really, why? Why modify the programme? What's the point?

Also, sure, I can make up a passibly decent programme for myself of just dips, chinups (not pullups) and walking. That's fine. I'll get strong in the arms especially, and my cardio will be good. But, being not a professional fitness trainer, I'm ignorant and in this programme I devised I'm missing out on important directions of strength and also important muscle groups. This workout for instance leaves out the lower back and the core. If I were to follow some advice from the pros and add in L-sits and archer squats or the like I'd get a better programme, and adding back bridges too would help fill in things.

In any case, I agree that with a bit of experience particularly if we're talking about just getting "fit", most of us can figure it out for ourselves to our own satisfaction. But, if we actually want to get good at this stuff beyond just basic everyday fitness, this is a longer process and many of us can benefit from learning from the pros. If we're talking a "sport" I don't think too many of us can figure it all out for ourselves.
 

Jake Steinmann

Double-Digit Post Count
Respectfully, you're kind of jumping around and attacking a variety of positions I haven't taken. Let's take this from the top.

"What I mean is that we should try to find someone who is skilled and accomplished and learn from them. "

I agree it’s important to find a skilled TEACHER to learn from. If that's what you mean by "skilled and accomplished,” we agree. If you mean someone who is successful as an athlete, I can't agree. I have met many skilled athletes (frequently in the martial arts context) who are absolutely awful coaches, and great coaches who are mediocre athletes. Teaching is its own skill.

StrongFirst provides a perfect example. Pavel is not known for his athletic accomplishments. He’s known as a teacher and writer, and deservedly so. The people who chose to follow him do so not because of Pavel’s array of athletic trophies, but because his programs and instructions work for them.

"What they say will be often at great odds with what we expect them to say, which is why we haven't been able to teach ourselves. It is indeed important to kind of just "shut up" and try to follow the programme."

Whether or not what good teachers will say will be at odds with what we expect is a matter of opinion. That has not always been my experience, but maybe my expectations were better calibrated to my teachers. Or maybe I got lucky. Certainly, I've gotten instructions from teachers I didn't understand.

"Following the program(me)" is where we're getting hung up, or at least, where I think you start drifting.

"For example, I really wanted to do the swings in S&S 2 handed. I felt more in control of the bell and that I could put more power into it, but the programme isn't written like this and after advice on these forums I just "shut up" and followed it properly and made a lot of strength gains. Why didn't make any sense to me but I shut up, did it right, and here I am swinging the 40kg single handedly whereas I used to swing the 32kg only 2 handedly. Honestly, I still do not really know why the 1 handed swings are better, but I sort of have an idea I guess. I just take it on faith. I can do what I want but I just shut up and follow and I'm able to do things I didn't think were ever possible before."

"After advice on these forums" is the critical piece of this. You didn't just "shut up." You asked a ton of questions, and then, once satisfied with the answer, went and followed the program. Your level of satisfaction may be different from others, but if you were really going to "shut up" you never would have posted here in the first place. You would have bought the book and done what it said without asking questions at all.

"I never said students should not ask questions. However, there is a time for this - i.e. not too much of it while we're trying to get a workout"

You absolutely said "The student had best shut up and accept the teaching." That implies the student shouldn't ask questions. You may not have meant it that way, but that’s what you said, and it’s I was addressing.

Of course, there is a time and place for asking questions. But again, that's not something permissible with a "shut up" ethos. I've admonished people for talking in the middle of sparring rounds. I've also let it go, when it was apparent that the person asking questions wasn’t getting any value out of the sparring but a beating.

"As far as pushing athletes to hurt themselves, that's a bit of a jump from me saying one ought to follow a programme as devised. I'm thinking totally opposite from you. I'll give you an example. A few weeks ago I was coming back from a hiatus due to an illness. I got on the mats and felt a little bit weak and started the training session. After 25 minutes, my coach "kicked me off the mat" and sent me home (I ended up staying to watch the rest of the class and we chatted a bit). What he saw was that I was not keeping my balance well and that I was looking pale. I felt almost fine. It was my duty to shut up and do what I was told, and this was in order to protect me from injury. A professional coach knows these things."

"Actually the "shut up and obey" part is CRITICAL for avoiding injury. Another example: I was doing a move that appeared dangerous to my coach on someone last week and he yelled at me to stop it. I obeyed immediately and everyone was safe and fine. A perky full of questions type person who thinks they have the right to boss their coach around might not have stopped on the dime and might have hurt their opponent. I'll add that I don't believe I was doing anything dangerous to this day to the other athlete, but this is beside the point. The important part is that the coach saw something dangerous and I stopped immediately, and look, everyone drove home safely!"


You’re conflating two different things.

When I wrote about safety concerns with a program, I was speaking of a written program (like S&S). I’m talking about the kind of questions that not infrequently appear on these boards, like “is it okay for me to do S&S if I have a bad back” or “my left shoulder feels weird, should I not do PttP,” and so on. They are questions where, unless the person is posting in the middle of a workout, no one is likely to be hurt or injured.

The safety concerns you moved to discussing are immediate action concerns, where there is a relatively immediate danger that someone is about to be hurt or injured. That’s a different context. In your first example, you were not in condition to train, and were a danger to yourself and your teammates. In your second example, you were an immediate threat to your teammate. That’s clearly not time for asking questions.

I had a rule I learned from one of my coaches, and imparted to my students: EVERYONE is a safety observer. Anyone in my classes was permitted at any time to stop the action if someone was in danger of injury, and everyone was expected to stop if they were told to. That is a rule of safety, not a question of programming.

A coach is responsible for the safety of all of his students. I kicked people out of training because they were sick, and likely to infect others. My responsibility to take care of the bulk of the people in the gym came before that one student's interests.

However, I explained why I did it, and I imagine your coach did too. He didn't just say 'get out' without any explanation. And, you didn't 'shut up and obey.' He told you to go home. You stayed and watched. A compromise, and not a big deal...but not blind obedience.

If we're talking non-professional coaches who just do this stuff part time, I'm quite in agreement that we can't put as much faith in them.

There are many coaches out there who, by the very nature of what they coach, make their living by other means. I had amazing martial arts instructors who were tailors, pharmacists, computer programmers, and other professions because being a martial artist doesn't pay the bills. And there are plenty of charlatans and frauds who make all their money by being professional coaches. Knowledge is knowledge. Good coaching is good coaching.

Honestly, here's my bottom line. I don't think we should "put faith" in any instructor. This is training, not religion.

"But if you mean that students should be telling the teachers how to teach, I'm totally in disagreement with this. "

I'm not sure how you leapt from 'students should not unthinkingly obey' to 'students should tell teachers how teach', but no, that is not what I mean.

What I mean is that the student-teacher relationship is just that, a relationship. It requires constant, forthright communication. It requires the ability to interact honestly, for the student to ask questions and for the teacher to provide answers. Yes, it requires the student to follow the teachers guidance, but it should never be in a blind, subservient manner.

"I'm not a coach by the way."

I spent over two decades coaching in one form or another. I’ve taught in academic contexts. I have a degree in teaching, and spent no small amount of time studying coaching strategies and educational concepts before I started law school two years ago. I'm painfully aware of the many misconceptions people bring with them to learning of all kinds (particularly martial arts). I trained everywhere from small college clubs to elite gyms where people were preparing for UFC title fights. I've helped coach professional fighters, and I've coached people who never did a day of training in their lives.

I am telling you from experience that the "shut up and obey" attitude that you are describing is sort of ethos that is weaponized by the worst abusers and predators that infest the martial arts and fitness industry. It is not only unhelpful, it is dangerous. If I am coming across as harsh or overly zealous about this, I apologize, but I have seen this kind of predatory behavior first-hand. It does lasting harm to people who sought teaching with the same earnestness that you seem to.

As you say, there is a time and place for questions, and some situations lend themselves to more discussion than not. But when we're talking about the question of following a program (by which I am taking you to mean a written training template a la Simple and Sinister), not only is there plenty of time for asking questions, but those questions SHOULD be asked. Questions should always be asked.

No one should surrender their responsibility for their own well-being.

Does that mean telling a teacher how to teach? No. Does that mean you should modify every program to your own random whims? Probably not. I am a big believer in following the program as written. But not blindly.

NEVER blindly.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
I tend to ask too many questions and to try to cut corners and it's helpful to remind myself not to do this too much as it is prejudicial to my learning.

I think your legal training is coming into play here. If you take my statement literally as to say nothing at all, ask no questions at all, have no input at all, then what you said is all spot on! But I wasn't writing a legal document and I do not literally mean to say nothing at all, it's more about not letting my own prejudices and desire to learn too much too fast get in the way of my own progress by following good instruction. Often things make more sense later after doing them for a while. I might ask some questions but at some point I need to just shut up and train!

I'm a high school teacher and I crave questions from my students. But, for some things, they "just are". I'm going to have to be trusted that doing certain kinds of exercises (I'm talking scholarly ones, not physical) are important and need to be done in a certain order to be most effective. Maybe there are better ways, but it's probably best to trust me from my experience as a teacher that these methods work; not saying they are the only way to learn by any means. At the same time, individualizing things where appropriate is also an important strategy. But imagine someone wanting to go to university telling me that they don't need to learn how to write an academic essay nor proper citations! Yikes! Sure, ask why, but whether or not you like the answer you're likely going to need to learn these skills!

No, so before his honour the judge, I do not believe that the student of strength should actually "shut up" and ask no questions.

I guess I have been lucky and haven't gotten involved with abusive psychos in any of my learning experiences. If you have that is too bad, and you are coming from that perspective.

You got me on the fact that I am someone asking a lot of questions and getting a lot of useful tips! Touche!

You win.

From the perspective of a teacher in an academic setting, I WANT questions. They facilitate my teaching by allowing me to focus on what the student lacks without me having to guess what it is, and they show me the student is interested in the subject. I lament that I don't get more questions. On the other hand I've heard that teachers often make poor students because they want to be in charge, and are used to talking too much, not allowing their own teacher to teach. I totally see this problem in myself and I really need to tell myself to keep my mouth shut! :) I mean really. Of course this other long message of mine is another exercise in hypocrisy on my part as I'm being a wordy little worm!

I've got dozens of new questions about strength, but I'm biting my tongue (or typing fingers?) Now my questions are getting into physiology - too much! I need to focus on just persevering with the programs I'm on. It's all so intriguing because of the progress I've made in the past 3 years. It's unbelievable! And, yes, I admit, my overzealous questioning did, ahem, play a role in it. :)
 
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Jake Steinmann

Double-Digit Post Count
I expect my no-prize in the mail shortly. :)

Honestly, this isn't my legal training--much of my background is as a writer, editor, and writing instruction. That, plus a lot of my coaching experience, gave me a great deal of appreciation for, and belief in, the importance of precision in language. Words are powerful things, and should ideally be used with the same kind of care that we use all our tools with.

So, less of my legal training, and more of just my personal obsession with words. It's a lifelong thing.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
I expect my no-prize in the mail shortly. :)

Honestly, this isn't my legal training--much of my background is as a writer, editor, and writing instruction. That, plus a lot of my coaching experience, gave me a great deal of appreciation for, and belief in, the importance of precision in language. Words are powerful things, and should ideally be used with the same kind of care that we use all our tools with.

So, less of my legal training, and more of just my personal obsession with words. It's a lifelong thing.
I was educated in and work in French, so in spite of being careful with my English, you have to understand I can lose the precision sometimes.

Your writing is clearly high caliber!
 

Jake Steinmann

Double-Digit Post Count
I was educated in and work in French, so in spite of being careful with my English, you have to understand I can lose the precision sometimes.

Your writing is clearly high caliber!
No worries. I have my own moments of imprecision. This just happened to be a moment where I thought some clarity was critical.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
No worries. I have my own moments of imprecision. This just happened to be a moment where I thought some clarity was critical.
Yes, and you caught me. Check mate. Well played. :)

I'm certainly the LAST person who would advocate not asking questions, hahaha! As a teacher, like I said, I'm dismayed if the students aren't asking questions - it might (likely) mean they are not interested, but beyond this it means I have to guess (or test) to find out what they aren't understanding. It is so much better if after laying out the new teaching that they question me about it until they feel they are fully in command of it (and even to go beyond it!) I've learned I'd say about everything I've learned here through questioning people, and at judo, since the coaching is elite level and it's all a wee bit beyond me, I have to ask some questions, and the coach loves to answer, help and to even go beyond into some new levels of tactics.

Hahaha, I'm about the most pro-question guy there is!

Socrates, about the oldest teacher these is recorded, was all about questions.


...yup.

:)

I think what might have possessed me is that I'm getting into some serious callisthenics, and it's about 75% new territory for me. I'd like to quiz someone knowledgeable to death about it, but that's not going to happen, so I keep telling myself to just shut up and run the programme, shut up and run the programme. I want to be able to do levers on the parallel bars and rings, handstand pushups and that kind of stuff. It seems like a nifty way to engage the whole body, I don't need gym-like equipment (can do it at home) and it's impressive, fun, and can be applied to judo. My coach says it won't make me better at judo directly but will do a great deal towards injury prevention, which for me as for anyone is quite important!
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
Anyhow, back to the criticism of Strong First.

For the two programmes I've followed seriously: S&S for 3 years and Naked Warrior for 6 months, I think the criticism of them I would have is that they are "hard". You don't really unleash their potential I think until you get to a fairly high level of proficiency, and it is hard to get there. A 24kg kettlebell for instance is a lot less weight than what you could be manipulating doing other things, but when you get to the 32kg you're chucking around quite a lot of iron and you're becoming very strong (I certainly did)! Same with Naked Warrior - fumbling around balancing and tensing yourself to get some elevated one hand pushups and some assisted pistols is really I don't think giving you much of a "workout" - it's more a skill building thing. The programme doesn't really start to take off until you can do reps of one handed full pushups and you can actually score real pistols! But when you can actually pull off these move, WOW! It's nuts!

Minimalism could be a criticism. Minimalism is an intriguing concept, but that minimalism is "better" per se than variety is, at my level of current ignorance, I think, a position taken for intellectual aesthetics - it's just literally more "simple" and streamlined. There are good reasons to have variety too! To be honest, I was expecting to find windmills, rows, all sorts of things in the S&S book, and was weirded out finding pretty much "just two moves" in it! Hahaha!

But I don't think any criticisms can go to far because they programmes WORK, are doable by regular people at home, are scalable to individual needs, and are actually kind of "elite" I think in the strength gains they give you.
 

Tirofijo

More than 500 posts
Informed criticism I've read from multiple sources - The volume is too high in ROP and one stands a high chance of injury or being beat up once the weights get 'heavy'. The definitions of 'heavy' vary. (One way to get around that is to vary the load and use a lighter bell on the easy days.)

Granted, ROP is not Strongfirst, but here on this forum that program is often recommended and it is still closely associated with Pavel/SF.
 

Kozushi

More than 2500 posts
Informed criticism I've read from multiple sources - The volume is too high in ROP and one stands a high chance of injury or being beat up once the weights get 'heavy'. The definitions of 'heavy' vary. (One way to get around that is to vary the load and use a lighter bell on the easy days.)

Granted, ROP is not Strongfirst, but here on this forum that program is often recommended and it is still closely associated with Pavel/SF.
Good point. I hadn't put that fact together. S&S is Strongfirst, which answers my old question of why there is both ROP and S&S... there isn't. There is just S&S, if I'm understanding this correctly.

I played with ROP for a few months mixed with S&S (there is a way to do this that satisfies both programmes). What I ended up deciding for myself is to stick with S&S and to add kettlebell press ladders at another time of the day or on days I didn't do S&S. Then I added in PTTP type deadlifting a few times a week, and also Naked Warrior, and I found myself doing a lot of different moves, but with S&S as the base.

Just to point out (not to brag as I have a LOT to improve of course!) this stuff certainly works. After 3.5 years of Strong First programming, I'm known by it seems (could be wrong but...) all at my judo gym including my international level coach and mentor as the "strongest guy there". Again, not bragging, and this is likely not in fact true, but I've got this reputation, now, and I am taking care to focus on skill at judo and gentleness in order to not hamper my or anyone else's learning experiences. I didn't have that reputation when I joined, so the strength growth over the past few years has really happened. This is all about consistency, but also about:

- understanding the programmes - asking questions here made all the difference.
 

Tirofijo

More than 500 posts
What I was trying to convey is that there’s more to Strongfirst than a single program (even if that program is a bastion of Strongfirst followers.)

So I don’t know if criticism of a single program is the same as criticism of Strongfirst.

It wasn’t a Strongfirst vs pre-Strongfirst comment.
 

Sean M

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
Technically it was devised before Strongfirst was created. I never thought of it this way, but I suppose this is true so it isn't technically a "Strong First" program, but it's a Pavel program.
I would characterize it as:
  • Pavel did not invent ladders, but RoP features them (obviously), and they continue to be used in SF programs such as those in blog posts (Total Package Training Plan, Dry Fighting Weight, Total Tension and Moving Target Complexes, and Fighter Pull-up Program come to mind), SFL manual, etc.
  • Thinking on ballistics has evolved; high-rep sets of swings and snatches for time are now de-emphasized in favor of anti-glycolytic/A+A style
So while it’s not SF, the principles behind why RoP works pre-date and out-live the author/organization that arranged the phenomenon into a marketable product.
 
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