Through working on social media in the past few years trying to promote SwingThis Kettlebell, I have had the pleasure to meet many of the OG kettlebell guys and gals.
Tom Furman is an OG. No that doesn’t mean “Old Guy” you jerks, but it could mean “Omniscient Girevik”. Face it the guy knows a little of everything and has written enough books and training programs to back it up.
When I first heard of Tom, was the first time I watched Mike Mahlers Collision Course DVD set. Tom was on the screen telling me to stretch and mobilize my body in ways that made me mutter cuss words under my breathe at the screen channeling my inner power to hopefully make him hear it.
After I watched it, I sent a friend request via Facebook as I normally do, to hopefully learn more from the master of an exercise tool I was new at using . Or at least make my hips more mobile…..
It was abruptly REJECTED.
I guess we get along well be cause we like sharp things, kettlebells and sarcasm. Without making you read more of my babbling , heres Tom’s particle he was so kind to write for us on Training , minimalism and maybe pizza.
DISTINCTIONS by Tom Furman
“The recognition of difference” — Wikipedia
Someone in the media questioned the ability to coach an amazingly gifted, super athlete, like Michael Jordan. The analyst stated a line that I will never forget, “… at his level, he still needs a coach. What you do is expose him to distinctions in behavior.”
This is intensively profound. In a time when incalculable amounts of knowledge are contained on the internet, we need an objective view to sift through, organize, format and apply it. This objective view can shorten the learning curve, reduce frustration and manage conflict.
A coaches duty is not just to win, but produce winners. Those are people who are focusing on goals and become task oriented to achieve the appropriate outcome no matter what the battle ground.
In my own business, I have clients who have access to all the material and experience that I do. They just find it difficult to extract the sense from the nonsense through critical, objective, thinking. They are too close to the storm to view the issue with any discerning clarity. They can’t decide what to do. Remember, once again, the latin root of “decide” means to cut.
Distinctions can be large, like cutting a overly voluminous workout, to simply changing a grip on a barbell. Hopefully as the athlete matures, the basic are so ingrained, they look like magic. Truthfully the gift of the Master is not to teach you new, cool, stuff, but to show you better uses for the basics.
Here are some points that can be applied to not only fitness, but to life as well.
- Too many variables. The less variables you have in a program, the easier it is to measure. When you add a massive amount of variables, you need a savant to manage it. For example no one can question the track record of Westside Barbell Club’s training method with Louie Simmons. Truthfully, he is the system. To modify those variables and individually change them is Herculean and can be frustrating. As strength coach, Steve Shafley says, “….. with Westside, the devil is in the details and Louie is a pretty big devil.”
Think of many historically successful training programs/sports…
Olympic Lifting -2 lifts
Powerlifting – 3 lifts
Kettlebell Sport – 2 or 3 lifts
Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 – 4 lifts
(you can also purchase Jims Books here..5/3/1: The Simplest and Most Effective Training System to Increase Raw Strength Remember to purchase, not rip off these authors such as Tom and Jim)
Convict Conditioning – 6 Bodyweight moves
Power to the People – 2 lifts
I’m a believer in Minimalism. Getting the utmost from the minimal. It has a track record. It has a body count. [Bodies improved, not deceased!]
Lack of Measurement. We are doomed to repeat history if we do not respect it. How can we even know we are improving if we don’t know where we’ve been? I’m shocked that people do not record workouts. They are training for something other than results. Perhaps guilt, socialization or they just like the bad dance music at 24 Hour Fitness. Measurement is critical to success. Such benign comments such as, “I think my clothes fit better” or “I haven’t lost pounds, but I’ve lost inches” are not worth the energy they took to utter.
Consistently in my own clients.. when they begin to record daily calories for example, the fat loss is to the tune of ½ inch per week in the waist. With heavier clients, the loss is almost linear. [It won’t remain that way, but it’s nice while it lasts!]
Focus on Small Change. – We see bogus before and after photos, outright lies in advertisements and promises of near instant weight loss. Advertising has made us into a den of animals that beg for instant gratification. Yet Olympic athletes rejoice in tenths of a second improvement over years. Golfers practice putting daily at age 16 through age 86, still looking and being satisfied with subtle, but regular, improvement. Yet Mr. or Mrs. Average have to lose 10 pounds this week. It isn’t about lower expectations but focusing on showing up and doing the work. Task vs Goals. Champions dream big, but have work ethics that dwarf normal humans. That is why they are champions.
Keep It Stupid, Simple. This is a variation of too many variables. The difference here is when distinctions are to be made, based on evidence, only change one thing at a time. If you change too many things, you will never know what factor sparked improvement. By only making slight changes to your program, you get immediate feedback on performance and appearance.
This goes for diet too. Any change in diet will initially cause a weight loss, since altering eating habits means you forgo your usual intake, if only slightly. By measuring calories/macronutrients, you can make slight adjustments that over time, result in greater adherence due to habit formation. For the morbidly obese, fat loss under an appropriate guidance is rapid. When you become leaner, the progress slows. You have to enjoy the small changes and get used to, “watching paint dry”, as you come closer to your goals.
Just Keep Doing It. This may be the hardest distinction to convey. I really hate those stupid memes (so do I Tom…), “Quitters don’t win, Winners don’t quit”. However, just showing up is most of the battle. Strength Coach Charles Staley told me about writing one thousand words a day. He said, “Just think how much your life will change!” That’s exactly the idea so eloquently stated. You have to motivate on the down days to glide through the good days. Author John McCallum told a story about motivation. There was a slave ship and the galley slaves had rowed for ten hours on nothing but water and minimal rations. They were exhausted, but chained and essentially helpless. Suddenly the galley master addressed them. “Boys,.. I have good news and bad news. First,.. your day is about to come to an end. The bad news is,..the captain wants to go water skiing!” Simply surviving the rough spots means you are going to enjoy the easier ones.
Get a Coach. Self coaching is difficult. Everyone should have someone they trust as a mirror. That is often why the best athletes will socialize. They understand the cost versus the benefit of their lifestyle. There are no secrets only distinction, but being objective is the hardest thing and difficult at best when you train yourself. Being around like minded peers can serve as a mirror in lieu of coaching.
Don’t Believe in Magical Thinking. The general public is general because they think in groups rather than have independent thought. It’s easier to pick sides that to stand alone. This does not lend itself well to achieving powerful outcomes. Unless you have seen the rewards of hard work, adherence, measurement and simplicity, it appears to be other worldly, Like magic. No gimmicks exist. No get rich quick or overnight success real. Overnight success can be 20 to 40 years in the making. If you are so focused on others results, you are taking energy from your own path. It’s time to refocus, reset and renew. Focus on showing up, measuring your results and making slight distinctions in behavior. Rather than mimic a wildly, floating, needle of a damaged compass, try to be an elegant GPS that gives you visual, numerical and auditory cues to arrive at your location.
(I hope you take this article and thoughts to heart. It has SEVERAL very valid points related to your training , JOE )
Also for a great article on training over 40 years old see “Training at 40+” by Jennifer Conlin of Crossfit Legitimus
Tom Furman has been involved in martial arts and conditioning since 1972. With an early background in wrestling and a student of the methods of the York Barbell Club, Tom immediately separated fact from fiction growing up outside Pittsburgh. Eleven members of his family were combat veterans, the most famous one being “Uncle Charlie” (Charles Bronson)
His down to earth training methods are derived from his decades long practice of martial arts and his study of exercise science. The application of force, improvement of movement and durability rank high on his list of priorities when training.
He gives credit to hundreds of hours of seminars, training sessions, and ‘backyard’ workouts, including training time with many martial arts legends.
He also credits his incredibly gifted training partners who came from varied backgrounds such as Exercise Physiologists, Airborne Rangers, Bounty Hunters, Boxing Trainers and Coast Guard Rescue Divers.
Tom is the creator of the popular DVD “Concrete Conflict & Conditioning” which integrates strength, movement, and physical combat. He also created another DVD called “Activate Your Dynamic Range of Motion” which introduces Tom’s excellent program of flexibility.
Tom was one of the first American trainers to become certified for Kettlebell Training in the US, and is quoted twice in “The Naked Warrior” by Pavel Tsatsouline, the founder of Strongfirst. Tom is also a contributing author to My Mad Methods Magazine and T-Nation.net
Toms Books and DVDS can be found at his website TomFurman.com I have several and I highly recommend spending some time using his flexibility systems.
THANK YOU TOM for your Contribution to Swing This KB. Hopefully Ican be worthy enough to carry the OG kettle bell flame. JOE