Thursday, November 29, 2007

Any Monkey can make someone work hard!

"To me, the sign of a really excellent routine is one which places great demands on the athlete, yet produces progressive long-term improvement without soreness, injury or the athlete ever feeling thoroughly depleted. Any fool can create a program that is so demanding that it would virtually kill the toughest marine or hardiest of elite athletes, but not any fool can create a tough program that produces progress without unnecessary pain."

Dr. Mel C. Siff

I thought this picture was funny. So true the quote by Mel Siff. Any Monkey can make someone work hard. Just invite somebody over to clean your back yard and they will "work" hard. Working hard is important...but when "work" becomes the goal how then do you know if you're making progress? Ultimately, as all of you know who are reading this blog, it's not the work load or how sick you felt after the workout, it's much more than that.

We undoubtedly live in the most exciting time in history within the health and fitness industry. There is a "renaissance" taking place within the fitness industry and so many cool ideas and methods are coming forth as well as lots of the old time exercises and methodologies coming back. Just think what has happened in the last 5 years in the fitness industry. Think of all the incredible certifications that have come to the forefront and claimed their stake in the "PIONEERING" pie you might say.

1) RKC for starters
2) Z-health
3) Clubbell certification
4) Paul CHEK cert's
5) Valery Federenko
6) Tim Larkin's
7) tons of great martial arts organizations
8) Chi kung and tai chi...
9) Gray Cook FMC
10) Gary Gray...

and so much more..........

We really are living during an "enlightenment" in the fitness industry and frankly, I am very excited to be part of it! What about you!

Wednesday Training

Incline Bench Press
155 x 3 x 3 sets

Bulgarian Split Squats

16kgs 5/5 x 3 sets

Single Arm Cleans

40kg 5/5 x 4 sets

28kg 5/5, 5/5 10/10


Joe said...

Great point by Dr. Siff, a man who knew and knows what he is talking about. We do live in a golden age of training. However, sometimes we forget some of the 'old' methods are pretty darn amazing. I think more than anything with all these great things you mention is coming back to what Dr. Siff says about the basis of training. This is the a great start and end point and a key is finding what disciplines apply to your goals and those of the people you instruct. I sure do love having a toolbox full of treasures to use and applied appropriately they are amazing.

Again, nice work Franz generating a good discussion, reflecting on this amazing age of fitness, and sharing Dr. Siff wisdom

Aaron Friday said...

I am certified to teach taiji, but I won't do it because the vast majority of people I've encountered don't take it seriously and won't pay for it.

Do they need it? You bet they do. They also need to swing kettlebells, but they won't do that either.

We're talking about a very small minority of people who may be interested in pursuing the things you listed. The challenge is in getting them to see the value.

Until then, monkeys will be paid to get people to work hard.

Franz Snideman said...

Thanks Joe! The mix of old and new techniques is the essential mix. The brutal honesty is that making some one getter stronger, more fit is not as easy as we might think. Short term work is easy, long term intelligent progression is alot harder!

Franz Snideman said...

Well......if you believe in EVOLUTION (which I do not)....most people think we were monkeys many moons ago!

I personally choose to draw a line in the sand that separates the monkeys from the humans! The monkey trainers can continue to make people work hard...I choose to make people work I know you do to!

Franz Snideman said...

Aaron, the above post was for you!

Brett Jones said...

It takes no talent to make someone puke - actually improving their movement, strength and skill is another matter.

Mark Reifkind said...

I agree, great post and oh so true. I mean, how hard is it to really kick someones's ass? heavy weight, high reps and short rest periods. instanty pukey and so what?
I think one of the biggest mistakes one can make is to 1) not know and or 2) not remember the lessons learned by those who did this before us, whether it's personal training or powerlifting.
Man I really miss Dr Siff. I would have loved to hear what he had to say about kettlebell training.

Howie Brewer said...

Good point Franz, and as far as evolution goes, those of us who realize the benefits of this new golden age will all be around when we're 90 yrs old, still swinging our kettlebells, and enjoying life. The truly strong and healthy will survive.

Aaron, what a shame not to teach your taiji chuan. The reason I stopped taking classes was because I wanted to take it seriously and it was not taught that way. Although early on that wasn't the case. Unfortunately, the commercial aspect crept in and it became a watered down version of its true self.

Franz Snideman said...



Getting people to move better and with more skill is not as easy as we all have experienced.

Franz Snideman said...


So true...we all need to remember the our past training mistakes as well as the mistakes of others. It would have been great to hear what Mel Siff would have said about the KB's and the RKC.

Franz Snideman said...


Let's all hope we can make it that long and be functional all of our years here on earth. How sad to see older people who cannot even walk or look like walking corpses. We both know that older people can have incredible function as long as they work on it and never stop training!

Rock on man!

jen-shaktifit said...

You know what the worst part of it all is, people are addicted to the PUKEY workouts that they have grown to "love"
I find it hard to convince people that they dont need to push so hard EVERYtime they workout but many already have the belief that it's the ONLY way!
I myself had to learn this after being taught and trained incorrectly for sooooo long!
Franz, You have been a great teacher and influence on me, Thank you!

Wildcard said...


Good post and true wisdom from Siff. There have been a lot of changes in the "fitness industry" over the past few years, so very good and some not so good. I think that what remains constant for those of us who concentrate on the purpose of why we do what we do is that there are a few guiding principals and many different tools with which to follow them. Mel Siff would undoubtedly have found the kettlebells to be a fine tool. When training people for fitness it is sometimes more difficult to have clearly defined goals, as so many people want to "lose weight" or "tone up" whereas athletic development revolves around improving competitive results. A strength and conditioning coach or program is only as good as the results it helps to achieve through the athlete, once it detracts from forward progress it ceases to hold relevance and becomes an end unto itself which is dysfunctional and counter-productive. Puking on a regular basis or adding volume for volume's sake seem to fit this description reasonably well, no?

Keats Snideman CSCS said...

Great comments guys!

As someone who was fortunate to spend several hours with Mel Siff (the year before he died), I know that he thought kettlebells were a useful form of GPP. Afterall, there were several Eastern Bloc Weightlifters using them for decades.

However, he probably would have been a little turned off by all the high-price kettlebell certifications though (including the RKC). Hard to argue against the RKC's success though! It's gotta be one of the best Cert's out there; hands down.

Franz, I actually posted that Siff wisdom on my website a year or so ago and have used it as a fundamental guiding principle in my training of other fellow humans.

Like Siff said, "anybody can make someone else tired." But steady long-term increases in strength, function and performance with minimal pain and injury: that's an entirely different story.

Regarding the monkey and evolution bit, I gotta disagree with my bro on this one. I personally have no problem accepting evolution and think that it's amamzing that we've come so far. Of course the split we made was not from monkeys, but from Chimps. This occurred somewhere around 5-7 million years ago. I hope not to start an Blogging war with this comment :)

Franz Snideman said...


thanks for the comment and I am glad I have been a help to you. There definitely is a place for training hard and even the "pukey" feeling during competition is often unavoidable. But the consistent train till you puke mentality has serious drawbacks and leads to long term stagnation and burnout.

Franz Snideman said...


thanks for chiming in on the discussion. If the program makes you worse or injures you, I can't see the merit in doing it. After alot of trial and error one has to come to some very basic understandings of how each athlete, client differs in their response to training stress. This is where the "ART" of coaching comes in, knowing what to tweak and how to tweak it. This coaching expertise cannot be bought or learned quickly, it comes from in the trenches experience and lots of critical thinking.

Franz Snideman said...

Keats, I actually took this off one of your newsletters a while back. It really hit home and I have been reading it and trying to apply it ever since.

Evolution wise...we obviously disagree!

Howie Brewer said...

Not to create more controversy, but technically I believe evolution says that humans and primates had a common ancestor a long time ago. At one point the there was a split and humans jumped on the fast track. Not sure that there has to be two camps on this one, I believe in the theory of evolution but that theory only gives part of the story. There is still the 'ultimate beginning' of things that there is no real explanation of. As a scientific thinking person (holding multiple engineering degrees) as well as someone with a very strong faith (Roman Catholic) I personally don't think there is any disconnect between the two theories. But that's just me and my two cents...

Aaron Friday said...

Franz, LOL! I don't think I could take instruction from a monkey unless he was teaching me how to act like a monkey.

Howie, I taught martial arts for over a decade with no pay. This won't happen again. If I want to volunteer my time for charity, I'll help feed people.

Keats Snideman said...

Howie, great comment regarding the possibility of retaining "faith" and an acceptance of science. If I'm not mistaken, the last Pope actually accepted evolution entirely; excpet for the "beginning" part you mentioned. There are several evolutionary biologists that are theists (hold a religious belief) yet are totally accepting of the theory evolution; in the end, you can just say it was all created and dictated by God. No discord at all.

thefirefreezer said...

Damn Franz!! I totally have to agree on this with you. one thing I hate hate HATE about commercial gyms is that they will take a 53 sedentary person and put them through the same "assessment" workout as a 23 year old manuel laborer. They do it to justify the existence of the trainer. He/she is only valuable to the client if the client feels whooped and sore afterward. That's horsecrap, and it can be dangerous too. A trainer should educate as well as train. One reason I really like reading all the SRKC/RKC blogs. Most everyone is into intelligent progressive improvement.

Royce said...

Crap Franz the above was me. I'm posting from another computer 'cause mine has a virus. I forgot to log out of the persons account.

Franz Snideman said...

so true Royce what you say about the average gym trainer. Sad!

Geoff Neupert said...

Well said, Franz.

Dr. Siff was a great scientist and a passionate sports/exercise scientist.

I remember wrestling with him (yes, literally) at an IDEA conference to prove a point to a Pilates instructor about the uselessness/danger of artificial/conscious TvA recruitment. It was a shame his lecture was poorly attended--all the other trainers seemed to be at the other presentation standing on one leg on airex pads...

I'm excited for you and Yoana--4 more weeks, right?

Franz Snideman said...

Geoff, Yeah, a little less than 4 weeks. The baby could come in December, highly likely!

We are pumped......and a little nervous!

Mike T Nelson said...

Great post Franz and I could not agree more. Excellent!

I do also think that it is part of our job as fitness professionals (I don't like the term "personal trainer") to help elevate everyone up to a higher standard and eventually reach a more credible position/status. Athletes of all types are entrusting their body to you (us) after all.

I am excited to see the day when all fitness professionals are on the same level as any other high paid professional.

Rock on
Mike N