Home Uncategorized Experience Doesn’t Come Easily When It Comes to Strength and Conditioning Programs

Experience Doesn’t Come Easily When It Comes to Strength and Conditioning Programs

Written on October 19, 2011 at 8:00 am, by Eric Cressey

As I sat down to write this blog, I recalled a quote I heard some time ago, but only with a quick Google search did I discover that it came from Pete Seeger:

“Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.”

Seeger might be in his 90s and done singing, this quote definitely still resounds – and will continue to do so – in the field of strength and conditioning, even if that wasn’t his intention.

I think one of the reasons it gets us thinking so much is that there really isn’t a lot of fine print to read; the strength and conditioning field is still in its infancy, especially since there was very little research in this area before the 1980s.  And, just when we think we learn something and publish it in the textbook, we discover that it’s completely false (the lactic acid debacle was a great example).   Moreover, we’re dealing with constantly changing demographics; as examples, obesity is rising dramatically, and early youth sports specialization is destroying kids’ bodies and fundamentally changing the way that they develop (examples here and here).

So, it’s hard to learn how to do things the right way (or at least head in that direction) when the information wasn’t available – and the population to which it applies is constantly changing.  It’s like trying to change the tire on a moving car – and doing so without having instructions on how to use the jack in the first place.

Moreover, even when the information is out there, we appreciate that no two people respond to the same stimulus in the same way – and my experiences with baseball players with elbow pain serves as a great example.  I’ve seen dozens of post Tommy John surgery athletes in my career.  Some start throwing before the three-month mark, and others aren’t throwing until six months post-op.  Everyone heals differently – and even once they get back to throwing, every guy is unique.  Some have more shoulder stiffness than elbow stiffness after the long layoff, where it might be vice versa for other guys.  Additionally, many post ulnar nerve transposition pitchers have a lot of elbow stiffness when they return to throwing at 6-12 weeks post-op, while others have absolutely zero complications with their return-to-throwing progression.

If the game is changing, and we never really knew what the game was in the first place – and each person is unique, what do we do?

The only thing we can do is draw on personal experience and the lessons that it’s provided to us.

To that end, if you’re an up-and-comer in the field, you have to look at continuing education as a multi-pronged approach.  You’ve got to read the textbooks and stay on top of the most up-to-date research, but you also have to be “in the trenches” to test-drive concepts and see how they work.

If you’re not in the industry – but want to make sure that you’re getting the best possible strength and conditioning programs – you need to seek out expert advice from someone who has “been there, done that.”  Honestly would you want to be on the table for a surgeon’s first surgery? I know I wouldn’t.

A final option, at the very least, is to educate yourself fully on how to write your own workout routines. That’s one reason why I created two free webinars for you: The #1 Reason You Are Not Making Progress and How to Create a Real Strength and Conditioning Program.

You can check them both out HERE at absolutely no charge.  I’d just ask that you help spread the word with a Facebook “like” or comment or “Tweet” if you enjoyed what you saw.

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  • Very well-put. It\’s all too easy to become totally academic or totally non-academic in this field… but a gratifying thing when maintained.

    Thanks for putting it into words.

  • Amen, Eric.

  • MIKE DEWALT

    That is some eye-opening information! Pretty crazy to know that a high percentage of people are walking around with injuries without symptoms. My case is easy..I DO have symptoms(bad back, shoulders,etc)and having rotator cuff tears and/or hair line fractures in my back is not just a possibility but more so a probability! But what i get the most out of all of this is that it IS very possible to still lift and perform at a functional level and to get great results. 🙂 And let me give kudos tho the ‘Assess and Correct’ DVD’s that you co-‘authored’. they have helped me dramatically! Trap bar deadlifts have worked wonders for this 46 yr old as well.At the tender age of 19 I injured my low back doing straight bar deadlifts and have been afraid to do them since till this year. The trap bar has been a miracle for me of sorts! Thanks again Eric C. for all of your great info; you and some of your colleagues and some select others have helped me tremendously. 🙂

  • There is no substitution for hands-on, personal experience but a good professional needs a balance of both “in-the-trenches experience as you point out, and academics. You can’t simply state your approach as “Old School.” Some will take you seriously with that approach but, it would be a mistake-in my humble opinion.

  • Kelly

    Thanks for the webinar!
    Enjoyed the part about being athletic with the energy systems development. It was not only a reminder of getting back to my athletic roots when I train, but especially keeping it athletic for my clients. Teaching and continuing development in all three planes of motion.

  • When I started coaching I was already reading books and blogs heavily. I was taken back by how it seemed none of the other coaches read at all. They all had a wealth of experience but they were doing the same work outs from decades ago. I don’t think people marry book smarts with experience like they should. Even worse is people who do the homework but never implement into their programs. It’s seems they are just researching to back up their program rather than help to evolve it.


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