The Risk vs. Reward Scale…are you using it??


Irony? Advertising a new NBC show called “Do No Harm” while glamorizing regurgitation….yup.
I recently re-posted a blog post from my friend Dewey Nielson where he talks about Common sense not being too common . In the article Dewey talks about some basic guidelines that trainers should adhere to, things like doing no harm to your clients and using a ‘risk vs. reward scale’ for everything that we do with our clients.

I wrote about the Biggest Loser Years ago and how we really have things mixed up in our minds….how we have an obsession with seeing people suffer and how some training methods are NOT meant for some populations.

Well, I did it again and watched a new episode (well, about 20 min. of an episode) of The Biggest Loser but in this short time period, I was baffled at what I saw. I immediately saw about 5 examples of training methods that would fail on the risk vs. reward scale.

Let’s look at a few:

What!? Someone fell while running backward on a treadmill? SHOCKER!
In the first 3 minutes of flipping the show on I saw an overweight person jogging backwards on a treadmill…20 seconds later she fell….HARD. I can think of NO benefits to jogging backwards on a treadmill for ANY athlete let alone a contestant on The Biggest Loser.

Jumping up onto a hard box = dangerous. Adding a weight plate on top and having an overweight, out of shape client to the equation = downright diabolical
Next I saw an overweight client doing box jumps up onto a wooden box with a weight plate placed on top to increase the height. First off, I would NEVER create a rinky-dink setup like this with my athletes for fear of an accident and injury…and I’m sure my population is much more experienced, fit and athletic than the contestants on this show. The risk vs. reward scale on box jumps onto a hard, unforgiving box already teeters on the ‘do not use’ side of the training spectrum. Add to this a movable weight plate sitting on top and you definitely move this exercise off the ‘to do’ list for your client. For years I have expressed very cautious feelings about box jumps on a hard box due to injuries we have experienced over the years. We no longer do them and amazingly….we no longer get these injuries.

Are heavy tire flips the best exercise you can come up with? With THIS population??

Lastly, I saw one of the contestants struggling to perform heavy tire flips. Tire flips (in general) are a tough exercise to perform with sound form. We incorporate them with our stronger, experienced athletes and have several sized tired to scale with…The tires on the show look to be ‘one size fits all’. I have just one question about using this exercise with this population: WHY? What benefit does this exercise hold for these contestants? They have access to every form of strength training equipment known to man on this show. You can’t think of a better power/strength/strongman style exercises than a heavy tire flip? This is where TV trumps common sense/sound training. Flipping a tire looks ‘cool’, we get to see people struggle for their lives trying to move this thing, and despair and anguish = RATINGS (see the regurgitation photo at the top of this post).

I know, I know, I have said before that we often focus on the negatives in this industry instead of celebrating the positives. I posted a terrible Gold’s Gym instructor kettlebell video a couple of weeks ago on my Facebook Coaching Page just for entertainment sake. When I posted it it had around 300 views in 3 months, within an hour or so it had over 5000+ views and was shared hundreds of times on Facebook (it has since been taken down by Gold’s).

I realize that I am once again focusing on the negative as I am sure that this blog post will also be shared hundreds of times as we tend to be fascinated with how bad training can be…with how uncommon common sense really is. My hope though is that we can actively EDUCATE the general public, those who don’t really know that this stuff is ridiculous, and that we can arm them with a bigger filter from all this terrible information/entertainment.

Remember, common sense really isn’t very common…sigh.



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Coach Dos is a sought after international speaker on a variety of conditioning topics such as Program Design, Cardio-Strength Training, Olympic Weightlifting applications, Sport-speed development, Explosive training, and CHAOS™ Speed Training. Coach Dos served as Director of Speed, Strength & Conditioning @ College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA, a position he had held from 1999-2015. Coach Dos is also the 2006 recipient of the National Strength and Conditioning Association‘s prestigious Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Professional of the year for 2006. This award is given to the top collegiate strength coach in the country (as voted on by his peers). In addition to contributing to Men’s Health magazine on a regular basis, Coach Dos’ first book Men’s Health Power Training (Rodale Books) was released in July 2007 and become a world-wide best seller. His second book, Cardio Strength Training (Rodale Books) is also a best-seller.