Most mainstream styles of training are not great for developing the athletic ability - nor very good for health and longevity either.
This video is a highlight from the co-founder Samuli's interview. You can see the full video and transformation here.
Different training styles such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting, bar workout, gymnastics and many others are like what martial arts used to be in the past.
Everyone thinks their style is the best and the best for everything.
For example, calisthenics practitioners swear they are the strongest. Powerlifters actually think that back squat and deadlift are God's gifts to humankind and people who want to get strong and athletic should do nothing but these two lifts.
A while ago, people figured out that gymnasts have really strong upper bodies and weightlifters have astonishingly strong legs. So in order to get really strong and athletic - you should combine these different ways of training, right?
This is what a lot of people started to do in the 2000s. Cross-training styles such as CrossFit and movement culture were born and soon became considered the enlightened forms of training.
This is what we also did for over half a decade. We took different bits and pieces from everywhere and tried to gum these together.
Obviously, it was a better strategy than just focusing on one style such as the bar workout which heavily neglects the leg development. It's also a good idea to try everything and see what is out there.
Yet, despite focusing on many different styles of training and getting really good at numerous different bodyweight skills and lifts, the training never made us significantly more athletic.
Our athleticism and strength were entirely attached to lifts and skills which were entirely attached to some external criteria dictated by someone else. For example, if you took away the heavy weighted chin up, the strength was also gone.
Once we tried to do sports, martial arts or dance, the crossover was poor and many times non-existent. In one world we were strong but once we stepped outside of that world, we became weak.
This was the turning point and a great shock we experienced on our training journey. We realized that we never really built the body in the proper manner - we were building skills.
We got good at lifting heavy. We got good at performing a specific bodyweight skill. We didn't get universally strong.
We were focusing on the wrong thing. We wanted the strength. We thought the difficult skill and heavy lift were the doors to strength but they just weren't.
Now in the aftermath, the big numbers mean almost nothing because the skill is not transferable to real performance or athleticism.
Obviously, focusing on the lifts and skills was MUCH BETTER than doing nothing. We were active and we developed some level of coordination and athletic ability - but only as a side product and up to a certain point.
Mainstream Training Comes With a Great Cost
The skills and heavy lifts we acquired were not free. Focusing on progressive bodyweight and weight training did long-lasting damage to our bodies.
Because we were quite smart in our training, we never developed any serious problems but we started to develop tendon pain, joint pain and many structural problems which took YEARS to fix.
This is the price of poor training and this is not uncommon. In fact, our most popular articles on this website are how to fix sternum pain from dips and how to fix elbow pain (people are searching for cures at increasing volumes).
Many training forums and groups are filled with posts related to injuries. A lot of people who do "strength training" get injured more than boxers do. And the purpose of boxing is to hurt your opponent!
Many dedicated weight trainers, gymnasts and calisthenics trainees have a poor posture. Do you know why? Because it's actually beneficial for the sport to have an imbalanced body structure.
You will deadlift more with a hunched back. Many bodyweight skills are also easier to perform with skinny legs and an imbalanced upper body.
A lot of people are willing to pay this price (we were as well...) but are you sure you are getting what you want in return?
We wanted the superhuman strength and athleticism. And we did not get it from the mainstream styles of training. We paid the price and we still didn't get it.
Moreover, our attempt to pursue these skills came out of insecurity. While bigorexia (muscle dysmorphia) is common in bodybuilding, "skillorexia" or "strengthorexia" are common in pursuits of strength skills and heavy lifts.
The regular exercise is no longer enough - you have to get the one arm chin up or the one arm handstand. It's never enough and psychologically it's shallow because as said before, the standards are dictated by others - not by you.
When you try to live up to other people's standards regarding how you should perform and look, you will never acquire the real strength, health and performance that is within your potential.
These mainstream styles of training shouldn't even be called strength training because they are not optimized for health, strength and longevity. They are sports which are optimized for the specific skills of the sport.
What Proper Strength Training Should Do For You
Proper strength training should strengthen the structure, fix imbalances and prevent injuries. Strength training should make your posture better, not worse.
Surprisingly, these are also the keys to athleticism. Especially for the people who are not athletic to begin with and do not come from an athletic background.
If you have broken joints, what can you do? You can stick to the 1-dimensional lifts and skills but universally you can't do much. A hurt wrist will already prevent you from doing a lot of stuff. Hurt knees almost everything.
A lot of people can squat with a hurt knee. Try dancing, playing a sport or doing martial arts with a hurt knee.
You may not be able to do anything and if you can, you will be hesitating and preventing your body from going all out because the body understands your limit.
Injuries are unfortunate and preventing them should be the priority. If you have injuries, focusing on proper strength training should be the priority to fix them.
What a lot of trainees do is that once they get joint problems, they start using straps and belts to cope with the injury while still continuing with their dysfunctional training. This will only make it worse in the long term.
Sticking to the old ways of training where you prioritize skill development and lifting heavy will only make it worse, not better.
Moreover, you are not getting stronger - you are actually becoming more fragile. Take away the lift and do something else - you will be less capable, not more. But luckily, you will still have the heavy press...which means you must be strong. Right.
Obsession over these skills and lifts will also make the posture worse. As said earlier, a poor posture can help you deadlift more. A hunched over posture can help you with numerous gymnastic skills.
But poor posture won't make you more athletic - rather the opposite. To attain well-rounded performance, health and longevity, your posture and structural balance are what allows you to efficiently move and use your body.
Health and Performance are Interconnected
Strength training that is the best for health and longevity is also the best for athletic ability in the long term.
When we focus on lifting light with an excellent movement quality or doing slow push ups with a longer time under tension, we aren't doing these for no reason. We are not being "pussies" and just focusing on "health" while disregarding true strength.
The ultimate strength is exactly what we are after and what we are building. We did the "hardcore beastmode" way of training and it only got us hurt while giving us very little back.
For a lot of people the training principles and techniques that we use are alien and unusual, yet the highest paid coaches in the world who coach the best athletes use similar tactics.
The thing is that 99% of these top coaches are not very social media savvy, they are often older and busy training pro athletes or focusing on their dedicated client base.
It's the mainstream training that is the problem. Everything is done for exposure, for views and likes. How people train and how everyone thinks of training has become the exact reflection of this.
Our abs workouts get millions of views on YouTube. Our intellectual and inspirational videos with our clients get a few thousand.
Yet, we would rather do the latter ones because we are dedicated to helping people and producing an actual change in people's lives - and not just focused on offering gimmicks that get a lot of views.
The gimmick is the most tempting but it's always a lie. The biggest problem is that it will not help you climb to the top, it's horrible for the posture and can create lifelong problems.
Train hard, stay safe.