The Future

What started as posting a strength cycle for fun and to keep the ol’ programming muscles sharp has turned into quite a group of people from all over training together and talking about how bad their legs hurt.

This is cool.

And also unexpected. And with most unexpected things, this led to a bunch of pondering, rambling, and inner debate.

So in an effort to talk this thing out, as well as get some feedback, below are some things I’ve been thinking about in a rambled, jumbled order.

The Thinkings

Coaching and interacting with awesome people doing awesome things is awesome. 

These awesome people have some freedom in what training program they follow. Which is awesome, but usually leads to some decision fatigue. What is the best plan? Maybe I’ll try this. Wait, I kinda like that. This person is doing this and they like it so maybe I’ll give that a try. So they might be at a point where they just want someone to tell them exactly what to do and the way forward so they can spend their energy training instead of deciding how to train. They might be coach/owners who tell people what to do all day and are trying to run a business – they just want someone else to take the reins on something. They might be serial program jumpers who can’t decide what to commit to and need someone else to pull the trigger. They might be garage/college athletes who would appreciate a coach.

I love people who work hard and take fitness seriously but aren’t jackholes. People who enjoy exploring different approaches towards programming and aren’t afraid to experiment. Games, meh. Regionals, cool. But having fun, focused day-to-day training is what gets their undies in a bundle.

I want to talk to these people more, and while sending texts, e-mails, facebook messages, instagram direct messages, and instagram comments is THE BEST for the social component of coaching/training, it’s inefficient and and not awesome for instruction and training-related communication.

Everyone has weaknesses, but generally the biggest weaknesses lie in either endurance or strength. People know what their weakness is, but generalized programs don’t individualize and individualized programming costs a buttload, and so weaknesses continue being weaknesses.

As a coach, and especially a not-full-time-coach, the giant downside of individualized programming is the time involved. Writing a core programming, then individual work, then communicating with athletes to get feedback, give instructions, make modifications, etc.,  requires a HUGE amount of time, would be prohibitively expensive for most people, and may not be sustainable over the long term.

The solution to this is to bias available programming to address weaknesses, but generally people don’t understand or misapply this process, and so they just end up “doing a lot of stuff”.

Executing programming correctly is just as important as the programming itself. This is in bold because it connects with the former 5th grade teacher part of me. When my kids would ask me, “Why do we have to learn how to write like this?” I would tell them “So that you can communicate with people and not sound like a idiot.” They would understand that – they don’t want people to think that they are idiots – and so they would execute lessons better.

I think the best coaching works the same way. Why are you resting 3-5 minutes between sets? Why are you pulling from the blocks instead of from the floor? Why are you going 80% instead of 100%? Why are you doing less when you could be doing more? If an athlete understand why they’re doing these things, they’ll execute the programming better. And better execution always wins.  This is the part of coaching that gets me amped – the teaching.

So, in fewer words, Black Anvil should: 

-Offer solid programming and coaching to people looking for those things
-Be hard work while being fun so we remain non-jackholes
-address weaknesses without being cost or time prohibitive (semi-individualized)
-instruct athletes on program execution, not just issue programming

The Idea

Black Anvil provides two streams of program coaching – strength bias and endurance bias. During the pre-season (November through March) these streams will come in the form of using CompTrain as the template and then biasing the programming towards specific weaknesses to offer semi-individualized programming and coaching. (There are a couple posts in the works for next week explaining how this biasing is done.)

Having a quality, core programming already in place and modifying to address weaknesses allows more time to be spent adjusting the program towards what an individual athlete needs to improve rather than just “doing the program. This also allows the opportunity to integrate my own philosophy and things I strongly believe in, primarily aerobic work and terrible, nasty, lactic-based intervals.

This also allows for more and more efficient training interaction between coach and athletes. In other words, Black Anvil functions as a programming and coaching source rather than just offering programming.

We would use Fitbot for the implementation system. Athletes can leave notes on each individual part of a workout, as well as attach video/pictures for analysis. You would also see all the workouts for the week in case you have to make some adjustments because of scheduling. From my coach’s dashboard, I can also leave comments for you, chat with you, and make specific modifications because of skill level or injury. I can also chart your progress in specific benchmarks and areas on a nifty graph thingy.

Because of the time involved, there would need to be a cost for this. I know that Free > Not Free, but it’s the only way that something like this remain sustainable into the future and I want to set the stage for the future so it doesn’t end up being a flash-in-the-pan-then-burn-out thing.

The info available on the blog/site would  remain free – articles, info, and occasional programs for people to follow (there’s a “Funky Crap Oly: An Ode to Klokov” cycle I’ve been spending an inappropriate amount of time thinking about) and “mini-programs” that people could add into their own training if they’re not following along with Black Anvil.

The Questions

I guess I’m throwing all of this thinking out there to encourage you to give me your thinking.

Is this cool? Is this dumb?

If it’s cool, what could make it cooler?

If it’s dumb, what would make it not dumb?

Other thoughts?

You can leave a comment below, e-mail me at, or get a hold of me on Instagram (@blackanviltraining) or Facebook.

Thanks for your work and encouragement so far, and for even the thought that this thing could be “a thing”.

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