Start with why, but don’t forget what

My long-time coach Anatoliy Bondarchuk was an open book. You could ask him about anything in training and he’d sit down with you for hours and explain the why and the how. He would explain his experiences with all types of training, good and bad. There was only one topic that was off limits: a sample program. Bondarchuk repeatedly refused to share sample programs.

When you requested a program from Bondarchuk he would ask “what is the program without the athlete?” In his system, no two programs are the same. Seeing a program means nothing without understanding the athlete it is created for. He doesn’t put a heavy hammer in a program because heavy hammers are the best. He might chose it because the athlete had shown they physically adapt well to it, it provided variation based on what that athlete had done before, and/or it would help address a technical point they were focused on. If he handed out sample programs athlete would simply try to copy and paste that without any success because they are applying it in a completely different context. So to avoid the whole issue he never shared programs.

Why before what

Back at GAIN 2017 Jimmy Radcliffe and Vern Gambetta presented a practical session on creating a workout plan. In it, they broke down the layers of planning:

Too often, especially in the internet age, we focus on the what. Bondarchuk was trying to turn the conversation back to the why. I often do that too, and have hesitated posting sample programs on HMMR Media for that exact reason. You need to start with why.

But the longer I coach I realize that answering all three elements together has the strongest learning impact. Knowing why is paramount, but in the end it means nothing without what and how. We can explain the benefits of Vern’s leg circuits, but that is useless unless coaches can see how they are put into a training program and progressed alongside other elements.

Adding context

With this in mind, we’ve now launched a new corner of the site dedicated to training programs. Rather than just posting programs, we will post them with context in an attempt to present the why, how, and what together. Showing the program along with the background helps explain the thought process behind the program, and will allow coaches to learn how it can be adapted to their own situations.

To kick off the new section we’ve already uploaded 3 plans: an 8-week throwing program from Nick Garcia, a NFL combine prep microcycle and leg circuit training programs from Vern Gambetta. Throughout the month we’ll be adding more programs from various sports, additional articles, and some podcasts as well. So stay tuned.