The Problem With Strength Training Advice On The Internet



Here's a little news flash that will hurt many people's feelings: Just because you see it on YouTube doesn't mean it's what ALWAYS happens in that person's training.

Just because the guy behind the camera is ripped doesn't mean he knows more about training than the other Coach.

The internet has given us opportunity to learn as much as we want, not all of it good and not all of it accurate.

The opposite holds true as well, there is some amazing and powerful information out there that was once upon a time never readily available.

But the TRUTH is always proven in results. That is where everything is tested.

The shift in training knowledge shared on the web was once viewed as informative or not. It was either good information or crap.

Today, it's more about what entertains others. With the shift towards mobile devices I explain to other Coaches that your information is often times at the mercy of a finger swipe. You have 5 seconds to capture someone's attention, if not, you get swiped away.

You're knowledge on the web is not measured in good or bad as it once was, it's at the mercy of a swipe of the finger. The 5 second finger law.

Some of the BEST Coaches I know are barely noticed because they don't cave into the entertainment factor. Stand for something or fall for anything.

Just because you see someone doing an exercise a certain way on Instagram or you tube doesn't mean that is THE way. The best way. The only way.

That person can be working around an injury or a limited range of motion due to his own mobility issues. Copying someone else blindly without understanding the WHY behind his training leads to frustration and lack of results.

The key to making gains from your workouts is Learning and building your knowledge base.

Different goals, different body types and many more individual issues play into account the WHY behind a training program.

When you see my videos, you are seeing a FRACTION of what happens at The Underground Strength Gym.

That video does not encompass ALL of what I do, what I coach or what my athletes do.

That being said, I recently put together a Large sum of training clips from what happens at The Underground Strength Gym, all of which are flawed, all of which are different, used for different athletes at different times.

That's right, there is NO such thing as the perfect workout or perfect training program.

But, as Louie Simmons says, "There are only 2 ways to train: Correctly or Incorrectly."

That is a generalized statement but seeing the technique of what happens inside a high school weight room or the local gym is more often than not, fall into the category of training incorrectly.

Commonplace in the high school weight room and the local globo gym is Half reps, poor / dangerous technique, lots of checking the cell phone, BSing between sets. If you want results, ALL of these are unacceptable.

Here's a compilation of short clips of our athletes and some of our adults in training.

Enjoy, Watch and Learn.

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First & Foremost: Technique is taught at The Underground. Proper exercise training progressions are taught. BIG lifts are not introduced until the athlete EARNS the right to perform them.

  • The large majority of athletes are not ready to start squatting, benching, deadlifting and doing power cleans. The athlete is simply too weak and can not hold proper positions in these big lifts.
  • GPP (General Physical Preparation) with bodyweight training, sleds, light Kettlebells, medicine balls, band exercises and correcting mobility issues are the starting point.
  • Half reps, poor / dangerous technique are unacceptable. But, for the untrained Coach, you will see round back deadlifts, half rep squats with knees caving in, benching with an ultra wide grip, poor program design methods and in a nut shell, a bunch of crap.

I stand for Excellence and nothing less, hence why I NEVER stop learning.

Do it right and then you earn the right to add weight. Athletes tell me very often that they squatted in their high school weight room DOUBLE what we allow at The Underground. Kids who can't perform a full range Squat with 165 lbs tell me they maxed out and squatted 275 to 335 lbs. THAT pisses me off.

You can't squat with a bar on your back when you can't perform a perfect bodyweight squat. This requires strong legs, a stable trunk, ankle mobility and stability, and overall, a STRONG body.

I've worked with athletes carrying in excess of 50 lbs of FAT and unable to perform a bodyweight squat but at school, their "Coach" has them squatting.

The standard must rise BIG time and I will be pushing to make that happen.

  • Until America learns how to work like The Russians / Europeans where the Sport Coach works WITH The Strength Coach, OR, the Sports Coach is also The Strength Coach, we will continue to fail MANY young athletes.
  • Until parents STOP looking for the more convenient gym and / or the cheaper gym, kids will continue to get what they do NOT need, but, often times what is entertaining.
  • When someone TRULY cares for the success of athletes, he / she will become an aggressive learner, always seeking greater knowledge with the ultimate goal of building great athletes. You can not accomplish this when you think you're "good enough".

Education is KEY. I invest in 1 book a week, sometimes even more. The constant learning keeps my training on the cutting edge. Good enough is not what I stand for. My library is always evolving. As technology evolves, my information comes through books, podcasts, videos and digital books.

I'm not looking to be entertained, I am looking for powerful information. Period. I respect great information. I crave it and love it.

In this Video clip from The Movie Gladiator, you see it is NOT good enough to merely obtain the result of killing.

It is expected of Gladiator that if he is to succeed (to be allowed to live) as a Gladiator, he MUST Entertain the crowd. "You are an entertainer. ENTERTAIN THEM!"

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For Myself, as a Coach, I don't care to entertain.

I care to kick ass and take names for the athletes I train.

To deliver results and to do so without resorting to fads and gimmicks for entertainment sake.

When people see my videos, they wrongly assume that all we do is use sandbags, tires and kettlebells. ONLY a fraction of what we do at The Underground Strength Gym is shown through photos and videos.

Each athlete gets trained in a way that is needed for them.

"Sports Specific Training"?

Which athlete does NOT need to be stronger, faster, tougher and more explosive?

I haven't met an athlete good enough in ANY of these areas yet.

The jealousy of high school sport coaches and the blazing ego of not seeking out an expert to help them is the down fall of MANY high school sports teams.

The window of opportunity to build high school athletes continues to shrink because high school kids show up NOT having a solid foundation of GPP. If they were trained properly in their younger years, we would see an incredible rise in the talent pool of athletes.

I begin accepting athletes once they are in 6th grade. They train 1x week for approx. 30 minutes and then we build up to 2 x week near the end of 6th grade if they show the motivation to do so.

In 7th grade I advise for 2 x week training and then mid way through 8th grade we encourage 3 x week training. All training is to be blended with sports skills. Multiple sport participation is encouraged.

The younger years are the foundation building years. Once high school begins, it is time to raise expectations and the athlete must demonstrate their commitment to succeed as an athlete. We expect them to show up early to work on individual mobility issues. Stay after late to work on weak areas or to simply do what we call "extra credit workouts".

Coach Reeve introduced these to me and called them "Champion Workouts".

There is a BIG difference in our athletes who have trained with us in their younger years compared to those who were not trained properly.

The high school athlete who never learned bodyweight exercises and light loaded exercises in their younger years is at a disadvantage when they show up in high school.

The majority of these untrained high school athletes can NOT perform a simple bodyweight squat or a proper push up. They are exhausted from the warm up. Their motor control & coordination is average at best.

Bodyweight lunges cause hamstring cramps. A set or 2 of sled drags has them nauseated.

This inability and lack of strength to perform a few push ups and squats is unacceptable and also pathetic.

In the Video from The Underground Strength Gym you saw many of our middle school athletes using sleds, light kettlebells, bodyweight training and gymnastic exercises.

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This foundational training builds them UP to the years where they will be doing the bigger barbell lifts (Squats, Deadlifts, Power Cleans, etc) and these athletes will will have the foundation to quickly learn as well as safely perform these exercises.

The bottom line: You Can't Fake Strong!

The athletes at The Underground Strength Gym are built into strong, explosive, tough and athletic athletes.

Strong and Useless is exactly that, Someone who can lift big weights but can not move in sports.

Don't be strong and useless.

Be agile, mobile and hostile.

Are you NOT entertained!?

Drop your training questions below and I will answer.


Ancient Training Methods Is Now Part of The Underground Strength Inner Circle

Details HERE

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8 Responses

  1. Thanks for the education and inspiration. I too try to learn something everyday. Knowledge is power!
    Effort and hard work combined with knowledge will demonstrate results and achieve desired goals.
    I need to work on my GPP so I can improve my strength, mobility, and agility..
    Thanks again!

  2. Mario Rotondi says:

    Zach thanks so much for not only the amazing work you do with your athletes at your gyms but for all the free and invaluable information you provide on a daily basis. It is greatly appreciated. Like you I am a father of young children. I have a 7 yr old, a 4yr old and a 1 yr old. My 7 yr old is into Tae Kwon Do and baseball so he has a good amount of physical training. My 4 yr old is starting baseball this yr. is there anything I can be doing on the home front other than regular playing that I should be doing with them. Since they are so young I don’t want to make exercise a chore to them so it doesn’t bore them. My oldest gets plenty of good body weight training in Tae Kwon do class so don’t want to go overboard. Also hope the shoulder is doing well. I tweeted you about my own shoulder surgery the same day as yours. I’m a NYC firefighter so I’m working hard to get back. Your videos and blogs are all the motivation I need. Thankyou sincerely. Live the code bro!!! -Mario R-

    1. Kids MUST have fun! Heck, ALL ages must have fun.

      My kids just come to my gym and play…. same thing outdoors…. always playing and multiple sports!

  3. Dustin Maynard says:

    A very true statement! The Internet has been a blessing and a curse for many folks who are looking to get better. There is so much contradicting information–it can be difficult to filter out the garbage.

    I did the same thing when I was younger. I picked up the body building mags and believed they would not mislead us. What a young fool I was. Then I got comfortable being uncomfortable hitting the hard basics. Lifting kegs, and dragging/carrying chains. My body got strong, and my mind got stronger.

    Bottom line. Go basic. Be progressive in your training. Be consistent. Leave the flash for the Flash. The only flash I want to see is “shit, he put up 300lbs overhead in a flash!”

  4. I’ve been training high school kids for 7 years, and while it’s not as long as you Zach, I too am seeing the same trend in just that short time. It’s the most frustrating part of coaching.

    But, on a humorous note, it is kind of funny sometimes to see the things these untrained kids do! It makes for good blooper reels on the training videos!

  5. I must say that was an “entertaining” read. Just like many I was raised on muscle mags and fell for the glossy photos of an unrealistic physique for me to obtain. I found you on YouTube doing a review of Convict Conditioning and totally connected with your thought process on training. I would much rather be a part of a smaller movement of training that is gritty and real and only requires the will to work hard. Thank you from this 42 yo old man who would rather train in the dirt than a box any day.

  6. Jason Woods says:

    Best post EVER !!!!!!!!!!

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"Zach Even - Esh is the Charles Atlas of Powerlifting / Weightlifting / Athletic Training. He is a walking inspiration. A kick in the ass for all of us."
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