by Doug Seamans
This debate has raged for years now…decades actually. While it may seem like I am beating a dead horse, I still hear people who want to argue that this program (usually the one they are using) and this coach (usually their coach) are the best and everyone should use this program and this coach and they will see bigger gains if they do. This way of thinking is not only arrogant but also ignorant. And this goes for O-lifting, Powerlifting, Kettlebell Sport, Strongman and any other sport that involves moving weight and competing against other athletes to move the most weight or move weight the most times. If you are walking around talking negatively about other people’s coach or their program when they are still making gains and winning competitions, then you are an asshole. End of story.
There is no one program that works for everyone or is guaranteed to give the most gains. There is no one coach who is guaranteed to get your numbers up. And if you are talking badly about people’s coach or program when there are indeed people getting results from them, because you think that your coach or your program is the best for everyone, shows you haven’t been in your sport long enough and I am willing to bet you have never even trained under another coach or used any other program other than the one you’re on. Also, talking badly about people’s lifting style when they are putting up good numbers and they aren’t getting injured, again shows just how ignorant and close minded you are.
The best program is the one that works for you! The best style of lifting is the one that works for you and your body! The best coach is the one that can personalize a program for you and your body and your lifting style and your schedule and the one who you can form a personal relationship with, and helps you achieve success in your sport and keeps you safe and healthy so you can keep lifting for years!
Powerlifting and o-lifting and kettlebell sport and strongman have all seen massive growth in the past five years. In all these lifting sports, here in the US, where there use to be only a handful of competitions each year now there is a lifting competition every month someplace in the US, often I see multiple competitions being held across the country on the same weekend! This is awesome, it is great for the health of our population who becomes more obese each year, it is great for the athletes of these sports to have competitions they can choose from based on their schedule and location, and it is great for all of these sports as the more people who train to compete and the more competitions are held the more people talk about it and share pictures and videos on social media and between friends and family and co-workers about their lifting meet this past weekend and the more people get interested and also want to compete. But there is a downside to these lifting sports all growing in popularity…the dawn of the “Wannabe Coach”…the people who trained for four weeks for one meet and are suddenly a fucking expert in the sport…the Instagram coach who is peddling their bullshit programs that they made up out of thin air or just flat out copied from another program or another coach…the coaches who haven’t spent years in the sport and have never won any major championship themselves…the bullshit coaches who just take one program and hand it to dozens of clients with no personalization and expect all of them to succeed on it. Believing that your program fits every one of your clients just shows that you are not an experienced coach, this bullshit works for casual lifters who just want to get stronger or get in better shape, maybe it will work for lifters competing for their first one or two competitions, but this bullshit copy and paste for all your clients will not work for those trying to make it to the top of their sport. To make it to the top athletes need a coach who can customize a program for their athlete’s body and their lifting style and their schedule. A coach who cannot customize a program for each athlete, even if it is just taking a template and changing some of the percentages based on where the lifter is at currently, is just a wannabe.
Another great way to spot a bullshit coach is to see what they have produced for lifters and who their coach is/was, this my friends is called “lineage”. Just like the British monarchy being able to trace their family back two thousand years, the same goes for coaching, who coached you and who was your coach’s coach? This has been a major source of debate and contention in the martial arts world for years, and recently a major source of discussion in the BJJ community as that sport has also seen massive growth and with it many bullshit wannabe coaches who cannot prove that they trained under anyone credible, usually in this community and this sport, those wannabe coaches who try to market themselves as something great will eventually have a legitimate coach walk into their gym and hand them their ass, I wish this could and would happen in the lifting community. Basically if your coach didn’t have a coach, they were “self taught”, they are bullshit con-artists. Just like in martial arts, a coach should be able to trace back their lineage, in JKD (Jeet Kun Do, developed and created by Bruce Lee), here in Charlotte NC you can train under Dick Harrell, Dick was trained by Dan Inosanto, and Dan was trained by Bruce Lee himself. This is Lineage. My wife’s powerlifting coach is Scott Shetler, Scott trained under Louie Simmons of Westside. This is Lineage. While I am currently coached by Russian and World Champion coach Igor Morozov, who was coached by a previous Russian and World Champion, I was formerly coached by Chris Duffey, Chris was coached by Russian and World Champion Ivan Denisov. Those training under Gregor Sobocan, Gregor was trained by Anton Anesenko, and Anton was trained by a Russian and World Champion. This is lineage. One of the best female powerlifters in the country, Marissa Inda, trains under Chad Smith of Juggernaut, who trained under Louie Simmons of Westside, and while Chad has created his own programs based off what he did and did not like and what he thought did and did not work from Westside, he still trained under Westside and has taken knowledge and influence in his coaching and programming from Westside. Basically if your coach cannot prove their lineage, they are a wannabe (or the very rare freak who literally can just pick up any weight and move it). The thought that your coach has created some amazing program based entirely off his personal experience without ever training under another coach is bullshit and they are probably lying to you and their “program” is really just a ripoff of another program. Lifters all need to realize there is really nothing new in the world of lifting, whether your coach is creating programs or getting them form another coach, an American, A Russian or Korean or Bulgarian, these “new programs” are just reinterpretations of old programs. Conjugate method, cube method, 5-3-1, Bulgarian method, and all the other well known lifting programs, almost all the “new programs” are based off of these old programs in some way.
After lineage we can look at how many champions or how many elite level lifters your coach and their program have produced…without drugs. While I am not going to get into a huge debate about PED’s, if your coach and their program and their gym have produced tons of champions and elite lifters…but they are all on drugs…please leave this conversation. Drug use in powerlifting and o-lifting and strongman and kettlebell sport have helped athletes push record lifting numbers, and while those number are impressive and I don’t want to discount how hard those athletes worked for those numbers, if a coach/program cannot produce natural drug free champions then the program and the coach are useless. With that said, many programs and coaches have produced champions both drug free and “untested”, if they have produced both then they still have my respect. But this is an easy way to spot a solid coach with a good program, they are producing quality lifters who are making gains and winning competitions, while drug free. (Side-note: if all of a coaches lifters are “champions” or winning tons of first place medals, but they never face any competition in their weight class, then their lifters really aren’t champions.)
Now, have I used other coach’s programs on my own people? Yup. Sure have. But I will openly admit to it and give them credit for it. And I have seen where that program helped some of my lifters improve and some of them did not, and while there could be many factors that went into that success or lack thereof, in the end it just comes down to the fact that one particular program is not the answer for every lifter. The same goes for lifting styles, in powerlifting and o-lifting and kettlebell sport there are different styles and certain coaches are not good at coaching lifters with different styles. You as a lifter need to find the right coach for your style, and you coaches out there need to realize that your program and your style of lifting may not work for every lifter, believing so again shows your arrogance and ignorance.
So why am I beating this dead horse? Because I am sick of hearing people say this program is the best, this coach is the best, this style of lifting is wrong or is somehow cheating. If you saw success lifting with a particular style and on a particular program with a particular coach, good for you, that style and that program and that coach worked for you, it may not work for everyone else, and people with a different lifting style or on a different program are not idiots because they aren’t using the same style or program or coach as you, you are the idiot for believing your style or program/coach is the best for everyone. I am not saying your style or your program or your coach is wrong or sucks, your style could be amazing, your program and your coach could be amazing, but they may not be the best for everyone. The point is, stop being an arrogant ignorant asshole when talking about lifter’s style and who the best coach/program is.