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Tumbl Trak: Train Smart





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Tumbl Talk

Muscle: Fact and Fiction (Part 1) By Mike Gillette

Posted on 5/16/2019

In athletics, more applicable than knowing the number of muscles we have in our body is knowing how to get the most from them.  When it comes to muscle development and peak performance training methods, Mike Gillette is a valuable resource. Mike’s resume is full of fitness focused experience, and frankly, is jaw-droppingly impressive.  He is steady in his lifelong study of strength and conditioning methods adding gymnastics methodologies to his already long list of conquests.

Tumbl Trak is pleased to introduce Mike Gillette as an esteemed contributor to this month’s newsletter, with more to come!  Enjoy!

“Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts…” - Bernard Baruch (former adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt)  

"We perform our push-ups fast for muscular endurance…” - some coach

"We perform our push-ups fast to develop speed…” - some other coach

"We perform our push-ups fast to build strength…” - yet another coach

As illustrated above, when it comes to training, there are opinions and there are facts. Which means that the most important mystery to solve is figuring out which one is which. This is because we tend to do things that we like to do. And we usually like those things which are familiar. So, all too often, an individual athlete or coach defaults to doing things which are familiar in lieu of things which could be much more productive.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, what you’re doing might be working for you. But is it? How do you know? Do you test your methods or do you just “put in the time”? In other words, are you basing your training on opinions or facts? I often use the expression, “Measurement eliminates argument.” If you don’t test your methods, your athletes are not actually training with a valid athletic process. Without testing, they are simply “acting like” athletes.

An effective training program must be premised around two key elements: a ‘process-orientation’ and ‘methodological metrics’. A ‘process-orientation’ focuses on perpetual improvement. These can be improvements in power output, technique or some other facet of overall athleticism. These are the building blocks upon which you can achieve eventual victories.

But, many times, coaches and athletes gravitate towards an ‘outcome-orientation’. Wins and losses. Wins are desirable outcomes, no question about it. But we can’t always win. Does that mean that you or your team are not making progress? Depending on your circumstances, a sixth-place finish at a meet could be a fantastic achievement. If you were launching a brand-new team or club and only looking at ‘wins’ (outcomes) as your barometer of success, you’d be looking at the wrong end of the developmental spectrum.

Without going on a tangent about the variety of things you can’t control as a coach or athlete, your time is better spent, particularly with a new program or one which is in “rebuilding mode”, by making your athletes better. And you cannot, strategically at least, make your athletes better without ‘methodological metrics’.

Methodological metrics is a term which refers to the things in your training program which are the sub-categories of overall performance; increases in strength, improvements in skill, mobility, etc.  There are two reasons why performance variables such as these are good to focus on. The first reason is that they are all measurable. In fact, they’re all rather easy to measure so long as measurement is built into the process. Secondly, all of these sub-goals contribute to an outcome which is completely under the control of both coach and athlete: improved performance.

Make no mistake, winning is great. Really great. But for coaches and athletes; judges, travel-delays, illnesses and a myriad of other variables will never be under our control.  So focusing solely on the wins and losses (outcomes) only provides a partial picture of our overall progress. But your own efforts, intelligently applied (and monitored with regular testing) will lead to the long-term goal of getting “better”. And the good news is that you can control this process of betterment. You just need to have a process by which to do it.


To find out more about Mike Gillette, ask him a question or to be inspired by his life’s journeys, check him out here: