There’s a difference between being jacked, being strong, and being athletic. But in today’s world the terms are used interchangeably. This is a problem. When people think of an athlete, they think of a jacked and strong physique. But there’s a reason powerlifters train differently than bodybuilders and Olympic weightlifters. And there’s a reason why athletes need to train differently than them all.
I’m convinced that 99% of the people in the fitness world want to be jacked. When you see advertisements for getting “that athletic body,” it’s not referencing NFL linemen, sumo wrestlers, and heavyweights. Even athlete’s themselves want to be jacked. So we’re left with this dichotomy of athletic=jacked.
“He asked me to program him in some more time for biceps, what we call ‘TV training.’ ‘I got to look good on TV, too!’ he told me.”
-DeFranco talking about Brian Cushing
Martin Berkhan presides over Leangains.com. I love Martin and his no bull-shit attitude. He gets results with his clients that can’t be denied. It’s just too bad that my foreign man crushes are reserved for tricksters like Rasmus Ott.
Martin has a few basic principles. First, he believes in intermittent fasting. Second, he uses reverse pyramid training (RPT), which is sort of like max-effort drop sets. Third, he belives in spending less time in the gym. Fourth, he hates aerobic work. And fifth, he doesn’t like stretching.
This belief system works for Martin and his clients, and he gets a lot of attention. His client waiting list is long, and rightfully so. And because Martin is so good at what he does, everyone, even athletes, wants to follow the Leangains principles. This is a problem.
Don’t get me wrong. Berkahn is tops in his field and one of the best coaches for those wanting non-drug physique improvements. If that’s all anyone wanted, I’d refer them to Berkhan and Leangains immediately. He knows what he’s doing. And the advice he gives is excellent for that crowd. You don’t need aerobic work to get shredded. But this is where the wires cross between being jacked and being athletic. For most athletes being jacked is the byproduct, not the main focus.
Because you don’t need aerobic work to lose fat, it gets dismissed on all fronts. But losing fat is apart of the jacked realm, not the athletic realm. I’m as lean and muscular as I’ve ever been, but if I play pick-up basketball or football I’m going to be huffing and puffing. I don’t have the aerobic capacity for it right now. And it is aerobic, meaning that tabata and HIIT aren’t viable “conditioning” options. I touch on that a bit in Can We Stop With the Prowler Suicides?
So here’s what a physique athlete can look like without aerobic work:
- Berkhan’s results with his clients.
Ripped. Jacked. Strong. Successful. Everything most average trainees can want. They even have “that athletic look.” But below is what most team sport athletes will look like without aerobic work.
The aerobic conundrum is just one piece of the story. Maximal effort strength work is another one. Powerlifters can perform maximal effort work more frequently because the barbell is their sport. They don’t need nervous system reserves for anything else. But this doesn’t mean non-barbell athletes fall under the same umbrella.
The theme here is this: train for your sport, not someone else’s sport. There’s always this debate about whether it’s better for an athlete to train like a powerlifter or an Olympic weightlifter. The answer is neither. Every sport is it’s own entity. Footballers should train like footballers. Bodybuilders, bodybuilders. Etc. As soon as you cross wires and do something like train an athlete like a powerlifter, you’ve gone down the wrong path.
There’s a difference between being athletic, being strong, and being jacked. What makes you jacked doesn’t mean it will be good your athletic ambitions. Train for your sport, not someone else’s.