Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Why I choose to take a stand against plagiarists

I write this in response to an online discussion about the treatment of my copyrighted works at

Craig, as I understand it you would like me to ‘stop griping’ about plagiarism. I would like to. However this is my position. Because it is rife is not a reason to be silent. In the 1950s (as I understand it) an African-American could not ride on the same bus or swim in the same pool or eat at the same restaurant or use the same bathroom as a white American. Racism was rife. On your advice African-Americans should have just shut up and got over it. Well, some didn’t, including Martin Luther King, and whilst he paid a massive personal price for this, the world is a better place for his decision and courage.

Now plagiarism and dishonesty in physical preparation may not rate as high on the scale of consciousness as racism, but the comparison is still valid. And the solution the same. Someone needs to take a stand, absorb the counter-attacks, and the world will be a better place.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" -

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." -

I don’t enjoy the time and energy the fight against plagiarism takes. But it’s a conscious decision following significant reflection. It is a cause that goes beyond the massive breach of my copyright. I have seen the unfathomable lack of integrity and I ask if they are willing to deceive readers at this level, what else are they lying about? There are too many young impressionable people who will be influenced by the ‘New Rules’ of publishing – lying, cheating and stealing. One could by you. One could be your brother or sister. One could be your child. One could be the trainer that shapes your body and your future health. I believe the implications go way beyond what one American sought to minimize as a ‘little misunderstanding’.

Shortly after I made the decision to blow the whistle on what I call the greatest intellectual property theft in the modern history of physical preparation I received an email from a former student, strongly recommending I quit. He was concerned that all I was doing was giving publicity to a person who didn’t deserve it. I agreed with him. This is a risk, and one that I don’t enjoy.

In making my decision to expose the ‘New Rules of (Writing about) Lifting’, I had to choose between two options.

The first was to say nothing. This was the easiest thing to do. The safest thing to do. The challenge was it goes against my beliefs to stand by and say nothing when I know of great wrong-doings being perpetrated on people. As I said this new industry standard is one that affects everyone, even those who belief it doesn’t affect them.

The other was to stand up and tell the world what was happening in their industry. This was the tougher of the two because I was aware that I may be drawing attention to a person who I didn’t want to give that attention to. That I would see my name in the sentence as this person, and in my opinion they didn’t deserve this. I’m happy to see my name mentioned in the same context as those who have trained athletes and innovated for the betterment of the world, not those who have turbo-charged their falsehoods with powerful marketing and strategic alliances. And I knew there would be those who would throw stones at me for challenging their perceptions of the person.

It was the classic between a rock and hard place, and you know the decision I made.

This is how I see it – I have spent a lifetime training athletes with a level of intensity, focus and work ethic that few possess. And then shared many of my conclusions with the world. I really don’t enjoy watching my life’s work being raped and pillaged. And then I look at my kids in the eyes and tell them what their daddy did throughout his life. In summary, I have created and shared more concepts with more power that have shaped the way the world train than most would do in a dozen lifetimes – but they would never know it because a few individuals with their own brand of integrity have republished them enmasse and passed them off as theirs. I specifically refer to the person subject to this discussion and the one who walked out of a north eastern seminar in 1999. The only difference is the latter works his keyboard a lot harder, changing up the words but still suffering from amnesia re the source.

Robert and others have talked about hearing the ‘other side’. I’m not sure what can be said. I read the ‘defense’ provided to the Lyle McDonald allegations It was a really skilfully crafted response that a press secretary at the White House would be proud of. But it didn’t justify or excuse the act. Now it’s a bit tougher to say the dog ate the homework (on in the Warp Speed case ‘the page with the credits on was left off by the printer….which still didn’t explain how the content ended up in the NROL ‘book’ also…) when the copying covers so many publications - books, articles, seminar and DVDs - and is so extensive.

Take the ‘Bible’ publication, which I describe a the single greatest shameful example of plagiarism ever in the modern history of physical preparation. Fortunately we have succeeded in having this 'publication' taken off the market (or at least we believe we have….). It contained two references to myself. One was a singular reference in the text to one concept, the other a book reference in the ‘Recommended Reading’ list. Yet about 50% of the pages contained verbatim copy, and up to 25% more contained conceptual content copied from original works – all unreferenced. Sorry Bret, that’s not a little misunderstanding…And Bill, you did acknowledge he steals, but with all due respect this contradicts your claim that ‘the writer always tell you [the reader] where he steals from’.

Now Lou Schuler would have you belief that there were legitimate circumstances that apparently led me to give carte blanche permission to this person and his partner and their publishers now and into the future of any of my material. Wow. I’m have no idea what he is talking about and you would imagine such magnanimous actions would be supported by some sort of evidence. I wrote a personal and also a public letter to Lou Schuler (a few years ago) - and I’m still waiting for his response....

Some of you wonder about legal action, and I will be sharing this story in full in the updated edition of ‘Winning & Losing’, but suffice to say there are obstacles to justice and these include commercial viability. I would really like to see a federal court ruling in this matter – not for me, because I know what’s gone down, but rather to ‘help’ those who choose to align with character traits like this that they should review their future associations - and so any one with law enforcement experience knows, if one is patient the repeat offender will go for it again and the trap will be set more securely.

Ted, I apologize for your less than optimal experience and I share your thoughts. In hindsight I was being used to provide intellectual property for ‘scraping’ and many things occurred with the running of this event that I was shocked and embarrassed by. We should have never done that event in that venue under those circumstances, and the whole experience was a trigger to do it differently in the future. As a person who was at that event, you do know firsthand how my teachings from that event now appear to have a new teacher. I have offered you a free two day seminar to make that up, and if that doesn’t suit I would like to gift you some e-videos. Just send me an email about this.

I really liked what you said Chris:

“…a culture of unprofessionalism on all fronts. It won't change until we change it from the inside and the major orgs stop perpetuating it. I like what you guys are doing by putting social pressure on people to be better than this….”

And that is the only way things will change for the better in physical preparation. I have had direct dealings with companies and professional bodies whose short-term commercial interests are tied to this individuals and this behavior, of which the full correspondence will be made available in time, and I know first hand how uninterested they are. However as commercially focused entities I believe when enough people take a stand, they will suddenly develop a conscious and change to match. It is no different that those who were written off as ‘greenie’s and ‘tree-huggers’ in the 960s and 1970s. Now every publicly listed company wants to tell us about their ‘green policies’. It did take a while, but it happened. There is some suggestion that we may see these changes embracing higher levels of integrity sooner than later. I believe the great late US innovator Buckminster-Fuller, who in 1984 sought to create an annual ‘integrity’ day, would smile with joy from the after-life at a society where honesty and integrity and respect were endorsed values.

Yes Khaled, referencing the level plagiarism is evident in my writings and will continue to do so until I it is changed or I pass away.

I don’t believe in the ‘new rules’ (being promoted by the very people whose actions personify them) – that lying, cheating and stealing are ok. I am intrigued by those who say they don’t mind if how they get the information, as long as they get it – yet if they came home and found say their TV had been stolen, would not be too happy. Ironic.

Finally Craig, forgive my ‘self-promotion’. I’d suggest that I have been one of the most humble persons in the industry about my achievements, but as you probably don’t know that it might be unrealistic of me to expect you to appreciate the humility I typically act with. Sometimes (I know, naughty me) I take the liberty of being what I call more accurate in my descriptions. I respect your opinion on this, however make two comments.

Firstly, I don’t mislead readers about who I am, what I have done, and who source of any works I publish. I do note that in the short term or even the long term those that do ‘embellish’ their achievements and competencies do make short term gains. What I wonder about is the long term implications. Does this get under their skin? Does it harden their heart? What will they say when they tell their life story to their making at whatever is their ‘Golden Gates’ on passing?

Secondly, I back my claims. I’ll go head to head in the area of training athletes with anyone, and will respect any lessons I get from this. In fact these are two reasons why I’m been so successful – I’ve been humble and honest, and as a result have during the last 30+ years developed concepts and methods that have been adopted universally. What I readily admit is I can’t market like this others, and I won’t deceive as they choose to do – which means I concede defeat in the arena of bullshit turbo-charged by marketing. They can content that title.

But will I roll over and shut up whilst someone who I believes is an inexperienced and failed strength & conditioning coach passes themselves of as having the experience and competence to develop my life work? No, sorry. Can’t do. And I encourage anyone who shares my view to starve this deceit of oxygen.

The challenge faced with anyone who chooses, knowingly or unknowingly, to be a student of deceivers includes this:

“You can teach what you know but you reproduce who you are.” --John C. Maxwell

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WOW!! A second publisher seek permission!

It this a return to integrity?!

Wow! I can’t tell you how excited I am! I’ve just had the SECOND publisher in last ten years or so to seek permission to reproduce my original works!!!! I mean WOW! This is incredible!!! It’s so exciting to know there are two publishers amongst the many who didn’t care about copyright or didn’t doo their due diligence! Here’s what I received! (I have deleted parts of the email to protect the privacy of the writer).

"Hello, I am emailing from xxxx Australia, an educational publisher. We are currently preparing for publication of a book:


In this publication our authors would like to include the following material in which we believe you control copyright:

(Graph), How to write strength training programs 'A Practical Guide' by Ian King 2000

We request that you grant xxxx the non-exclusive right and license to use, display, reproduce, publish, transmit, and distribute the Material in the Work in the nominated territories and languages and in all advertising and promotions of the Work. Your grant and license shall also apply to any reprints, revised editions, or derivative works of the Work in any media or formats, whether now or hereafter known, including without limitation other kinds of print and electronic media.

Replying to this email with your permission confirms your agreement to this request. By consenting to this request you represent and warrant that (i) you are the sole owner of all copyright, trademark, and other intellectual property and proprietary rights in and to the Material, (ii) xxx publication of the Material as authorised herein will not violate or infringe any copyright, trademark, or other intellectual property or proprietary right of any person or entity, and (iii) you are not a party to and the Material is not subject to any contract or arrangement which would conflict with your permission herein.

Thank you very much for your help, I look forward to hearing from you."

xxxx – Thank you for your email. It’s great to experience courtesy and respect in publishing, not to least moral and legal respect of copyright! I mean that very sincerely. You are only the second publisher in the last ten years to seek permission – and the other was just a few years ago when Human Kinetics sought permission for content in Istvan Balyi’s book.

Yet the contents of 'How to Write' (and others of my works) are the most plagiarized content in the modern history of physical preparation.

So I really appreciate you, and your effort to maintain what was once standard, accepted practice in publishing!

I am definitely going to agree, but first I want to get this right for you and for myself.

1. The referenced title - My book, ‘How to Write Strength Training Programs’ was originally published in 1998, and has a number of new editions, however I am happy for you to use the 1998 year.

2. If you are committed to avoiding additional copyright breaches, you may want me to check the rest of your content. It would be very unlikely that your current manuscript is devoid from additional of my original published works.

It would be disappointing for me to see you publish more of my works without reference or credit, but I am getting to expect this, as certain individuals have made their career out of extensive republishing my original works as their own. However I see no reason why copyright breaches need to be perpetuated simply because others have, although I have received this argument from another published previously.

For example, you most likely have my speed of movement and or lines of movement concepts in your manuscript – just to name some possibilities. It would be amazing to find a publisher whose commitment to integrity in publishing exceeds their desire for easy short term cash flow.

I am and will continue to publish clarity on the origin of my original ideas, and over time I aim that those who have and continue to publish my works without professionally and legally acceptable referencing and credit will be exposed for failing to ethically, morally, professionally and legally show appropriate respect for the copyright of others.

3. Can I check the pictures you have earmarked to be connect/referenced from the table?

4. I note the graphs say ‘altered from’ – in what way has it been altered and what was the purpose of the altering? Why is the original table not adequate? To give clarity in the first instance, it would appear the table you present marries the content of two of my tables, from different pages in my book.

5. Has this book already been published? Or similar ones? Were my original, copyright works appropriately referenced and credited?

Again xxx I am really happy to receive a request indicating a desire to credit a person for their works. I am got used to American publishers treating my copyright with total distain however it would be even further heartbreak to have the same treatment by Australians, considering I have spent the bulk of my adult life in Australia.
--Ian King

It may seem trivial to some but to anyone who has created and shared so many original, copyright material, its massive.

It’s so heartening to find as many as two publishers committed to ethical behaviour. Perhaps the world is changing back from the ways of what I call the Decade of Deceit, where between the years of approximately 2000 and 2010+ so many hid behind their keyboards, creating perceptions of themselves and their professional experiences and competencies that were far removed from the reality, and blatantly breaching anyone’s copyright to further themselves. Two publishers in the last few year compared to none before that. If we are seeing a return to greater integrity, I fully support it!

Ian King

NB. If you read this blog article, and are genuinely committed to helping the physical preparation industry return to greater integrity, I would like to gift you a free copy of my ebook ‘Barbells & Bullshit’. Just email us at asking for your copy. And keep an eye out for my upcoming release – ‘The New Rules of (Writing About) Lifting: Lying, Cheating & Stealing.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Coach King, What do you think of CrossFit?

I recently received another request to share my thoughts about cross-fit.

"As someone who I look up to a greatly respect in the area of physical training, I am interested what your thoughts are on CrossFit as an effective training program?"

Before I responded in full asked "Tell me what you think about CrossFit." I value the market research that consumer comments provide. The writer kindly responded in full and I will share his response in the below.

Firstly I would like to establish commonality in grounds for discussion. In any meaningful dialogue I believe it’s important that meanings are clarified and defined.

To this end, CrossFit is simply a word, or a mixing of two words. So in itself, CrossFit has no more meaning than the meaning a person attaches to it. For most people, the meaning will be shaped by their experiences or perception of what this word (or two words) stands for.

According to Wikipedia, CrossFit is:

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program with the aim of improving, among other things, cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. It advocates a perpetually varied mix of aerobic exercise, gymnastics (body weight exercises), and Olympic weight lifting.

This source provides further clarification with:

CrossFit Inc. describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains with the stated goal of improving fitness, which it defines as "work capacity across broad time and modal domains.” Hour-long classes at affiliated gyms, or "boxes", typically include a warm-up, a skill development segment, the high-intensity "workout of the day" (or WOD), and a period of individual or group stretching. Some boxes also often have a strength focused movement prior to the WOD. Performance on each WOD is often scored and/or ranked to encourage competition and to track individual progress. Some affiliates offer additional classes, such as Olympic weightlifting, which are not centered around a WOD. (1)

Acknowledge success

Before I go any further I also want to acknowledge the success of CrossFit as measured by financial value and growth.

To his credit from a financial and organizational perspective, the founder of CrossFit Inc, founder Greg Glassman, has been able to retain control over his training concepts. In contrast, I have watched my original training concepts and methods be published extensively by various ‘authors’ without reference or credit. Take the ‘Functional Training Movement’ for example – if you took my concepts out of the books written by one of the more prolific authors in this sector, the book would fall over. Interesting when you consider this same person orchestrated a mass walkout of one of my seminar in 1999 on the basis of how terrible the content was, only to turn around and republish all the content during the next decade in complete absence of crediting or acknowledgement. So kudos to Greg. He had the business acumen I lacked in the 1990s. He has managed to date to avoid the damage caused by those who adhere to the ‘New Rules’ of publishing in strength training.

The value of CrossFit is reflected in the reported $16 million CrossFit Inc paid his ex-wife for her share in the company.

In relation to growth, since its inception in 2000, the number of affiliated gyms globally is quoted at 9,000 or more. Glassman commercial approach deserves recognition.


So what has driven CrossFit? I identify two main drivers of any new trend or movement (apparently it is now a ‘sport’ also). Firstly, the demand from consumers is based on the ‘new’ paradigm solving a problem that was not being solved by their prior solutions. The second driver is marketing forces, driven by commercial interests.

The growth and relatively longevity of the CrossFit movement or trend suggests that it is providing solutions to the unresolved needs of many people. I will leave exactly how to social researchers, however I suspect it may be the attraction of group training combined with the feeling of working hard, meeting the masses perception of what training should feel like.

The involvement of a large fitness industry company in Reebok, who around 2010 entered into a ten year agreement with CrossFit, suggests commercial marketing motivation to contribute to growing the trend. The impact in prize money alone compares a $25,000 total prize money in CrossFit Games 2010 to $1,000,000 in 2011. (2)

It is now in the interests of Reebok to drive this vehicle commercially.

The success to date of CrossFit is undeniable. More evidence of this is the number of my 'colleagues' who have become overnight experts on CrossFit, allowing them to jump on it's band wagon of success.

Now let’s get more specific about CrossFit as a training method.

Opposite and Equal

The attraction of CrossFit to commerce and consumer has been established. So what is it actually going to create in terms of long and short term training effects?

A valuable insight into the potential short term impact of CrossFit as a training method is provided in the response I received from the person who raised the question about CrossFit with me. They wrote:

"Well, I have been involved in CrossFit for about 16 months and found it to be very effective in developing all aspects of fitness. I became leaner, increased my endurance, flexibility, co-ordination, power, speed and strength."

As CrossFit rises in popularity the amount of what I call short term research conducted on CrossFit (1) will increase. Here’s an example:

A 2010 U.S. Army study conducted during a 6-week period produced an average power output increase of 20% among participants, measured by benchmark WODs. The average one repetition maximum weight deadlift increased by 21.11%. (3)

My attitude is you can wait for the studies but you don’t have to. You can reach conclusions earlier and benefit. Additionally, most studies will be short-term in nature. What may be lacking is a fuller understanding of the long-term impacts of participation in CrossFit.

To help answer that question, there’s a concept that is extremely relevant – the opposite and equal concept. It’s an original concept I released in 1999:

This is a very interesting principle, a concept that I have created. One that upon mastering will assist you to avoid negative outcomes from training. The concept is based on the belief that to every action (in training) there is a positive and a negative outcome, and that often the negative outcome is equal or as powerful as the positive outcome. (4)


The strengths of CrossFit are easy to identify. It has attracted a large and enthusiastic following in a short period of time. To achieve this it must be providing a solution that its participants had not been able to find previously.

Additionally once any belief or movement or trend reaches a percentage of market saturation it experiences a degree of self-perpetuating increase. Behavioural scientists suggest that in the same time it takes a new idea to reach 10% of the market, it shoots to 90%. So however long it takes for 10% of the market to accept and join in with an idea, it can advance another 80% in market participation in the same time.

I suggest CrossFit has or is reaching this tipping point.

From what I can see and hear, its participants enjoy the group motivation and the experience of pushing themselves. To this extent CrossFit has achieved a phenomenal job in creating this ‘community’ atmosphere.

Along with this level of physical effort come physical adaptations, including the ones listed by the person who wrote in with the question – effective in developing all aspects of fitness. They became leaner, increased their endurance, flexibility, co-ordination, power, speed and strength.

I would like to place this in context:

• I still call this a short or medium term result, not a long term result.
• I am not making any comment in this article about the effectiveness of CrossFit to transfer to any specific event or sport other than general fitness adaptations and participation in the ‘sport’ of CrossFit itself. The discussion of merits of CrossFit for specific occupational and or sporting outcomes is outside the context of this article, although very deserving of focus in an article dedicated to this topic.

Another strength of CrossFit is that it embraces a wide range of exercises, many of them with excellent theoretical benefits. In fact you could attribute any rise in participation numbers in strength sports (Olympic Weightlifting, powerlifting) to CrossFit.

Additionally, the characteristic of CrossFit to provide frequent variety in exercise programs may be attractive to many who require this to keep the motivation to train.

Now as my opposite and equal concepts suggests, there is an equally powerful downside to CrossFit that need to be considered.

Even the writer of the question that promoted this response recognized this, to their credit:

"There are a lot of things I like about CrossFit, however, I do understand that there are negatives as well."


Most of my initial concerns for CrossFit participants revolve around injury potential. I was not surprised when the question writer shared the below:

"Recently I suffered an injury at training, and while it did not occur doing a typical CrossFit exercise, I wonder if the training I have been performing over the past 16 months may have contributed to it. I was in a group fitness class and was asked to perform single-leg bounding over a short distance (around 15-20 meters). This was early in the morning, and there was dew on the grass. Upon landing, my right foot slipped forwards. There was a loud noise and a sharp pain in my knee. I found out later that I had a proximal rupture of the patella tendon. Not a common injury, as you are probably aware, and I was told that it is quite likely I had a pre-disposing weakness in the tendon. I have had a bit of a history if chondromalacia patella, which I had been managing, but no real issues with the knee besides that."

1 Individualization: The concept of individualization has been a long-touted one in the physical training industry. It makes most text books. I describe this principle of training as:

This principle stresses that to optimize the training effect, it is necessary to take into account all the factors that the individual athlete presents. This suggests that each training program needs to be individualized. Modified to suit the individual, in each aspect of training – speed, strength, endurance, flexibility and so on. (5)

In group exercise, the ability to individualize training is negated, which includes CrossFit.

Now rather than single out CrossFit for this flaw, I suggest that unlike say technology in general, I have seen no advancement at all in over three decades of industry involvement in the ability of fitness ‘professionals’ to individualize training.

There are a number of reasons I propose for this incredible limitation in this industry:

• The focus on research for justification of training protocols – it is difficult if not impossible to find a research study on your specific client giving you answers to stimuli (the training program) that has not been applied yet.
• The complete absence of teaching of the art of training, as opposed to the science of training.
• The willingness of what I certain inexperienced and incompetent individuals to position themselves as ‘experts’, write books and give seminars on how to train people. The people I refer to are very good networkers, very good marketers, will to deceive to create false perceptions of their guru-ness, yet have never coached or trained people to any level of success. In other words they are incompetent yet teaching. An excellent saying I learnt from John C. Maxwell is this:

You teach what you know but you reproduce what you are.

Therefore what they say and write about sounds great, but all that is developed in their paying audience is more of their incompetence, and no advancement occurs in average professional competencies. Unless you believe the ability to market through misleading content is an advancement – you can read more about this in my book ‘Barbells & Bullshit’ (6).

Therefore a person going to see a ‘personal trainer’ is unlikely to receive any more individualization in training than they would if they participated in group training.

2 Level of difficulty in exercise: A CrossFit class can contain a diverse range of exercises including many classics such as Olympic and power lifts. This is great in theory – total body, dynamic exercises etc. However from a finer point of view these exercises can be classed as higher level of difficulty which is associated with higher levels of risk for those whose bodies are or may never be ready for them.

In my 1998 book ‘How to Write Strength Training Programs’ (7) I provide the following guidelines for exercise selection:

Exercise selection in strength training refers to which exercise to use. Exercise selection is often presented as a difficult or confusing task, but the following should simplify this aspect of writing programs. When choosing exercises consider the following:

1. Training method.
2. Exercise suitability.
3. Specificity.
4. Injury history/prevention needs.
5. Training history.
6. Current physical status.
7. Strengths and weaknesses.
8. Level of supervision.
9. Balance. (7)

If you have multiple individuals in the class, it is in my opinion totally improbable that advanced exercises are suitable to them all.

3 Unfamiliar exercises: CrossFit characteristically provides high levels of variety in exercise. This alone could provides a discussion of the merits of this strategy as to the whether it is optimal to train with exploitation of the variety variable, however that is a discussion again beyond the level of this article.

What I will focus on is the impact of conducting a relatively unfamiliar exercise (that is you may not have done it for a few weeks). From a muscle perspective, this ‘shock’ can provide the delayed muscles soreness that some seek to validate their training. In other words, it can feel good. My concern is that loading a relatively new exercise is not necessary or wise for the majority of people the majority of the time.

In sharing my progressive loading models in my Get Buffed! books, I wrote:

In brief, I suggest that the first week of any new training cycle be treated as an ‘exposure week’, not a maximum effort week. What is often overlooked is the adaptation that results simply from the exposure - not only is a maximum effort unnecessary, it may also be counterproductive! Additionally, this sub-maximal approach in the first week allows for greater focus on technique. (8)

4 Extreme loading and technical breakdown: CrossFit is also characterized by high intensity of effort and high loading. In essence, there is a risk most participants are exceeding their technical limit most of the time.

I call this your technical limit – the loading limit before you lose the technical model you have chosen. This is a pretty redundant concept to most in the gym and they have no technical model – they just lift. Now this is great for some competitive lifters, who success is determined simply by whether the load goes from Point A to Point B within minimum guidelines. But if you want to selectively recruit specific muscles for sport performance or aseptic reasons – get a technical model. (9)

I have been discouraging this approach for a number of decades. I published the below nearly 25 years ago:

All individuals will have a 'technique limit' in weight selection at any given time on each exercise. The training effect will increase the limit progressively. Utilisation of loads in excess of that technique limit will result in technique breakdown and should be discouraged. (10)

The greatest concern as it relates to CrossFit participants is the injury risk:

In the case where loading exceeds technical ability, injury potential is increased, athlete’s career lengths are reduced, life-time quality of life is reduced, and transfer is reduced. (11)

5 High volumes: CrossFit is also characterized by high volume, although I appreciate this relative nature of this comment. To place it in context, I share my definition of relative volume as measured in number of sets.

Generally speaking, any number of work sets exceeding a total of 12 for the workout (yes, that right, 12 sets for the total workout, not per muscle group!) should only be contemplated by those with optimal lifestyles and recovery conditions. If you have a day job and/or consider your recovery average, this rules you out. (12)

Now in fairness the above describes conventional set, rest strength training. In relation to circuit training, I allow a higher number of sets. In my Guidelines for optimal number of sets per training session for each generalized training method (13) I provide up to 30 sets allowance, however this is on the basis of lower intensity sets.

The risks of high volume work are the reduced ability to recovery, and the increased injury risk associated with training under residual fatigue. I believe injuries resulting from progressive build up of residual fatigue are the ones least likely to be correctly related to their cause.

The battle against ineffective, inefficient and injury creating high volume training will never be over. (14)

6 Imbalances in the training program: In 1998 I released for the first time my concept of ‘Lines of Movement’:

That’s a concept I am sure you have never heard before because this is the first time I have really spoken about it. (15)

Now I am going to show you how I break the muscle groups up: (16)

Lower body:
Quad dominant
Hip dominant

Upper body:
Horizontal plane push
Horizontal plane pull
Vertical plane push
Vertical plane pull

I taught this with the intent of helping the world of strength training reduce their injuries from muscle imbalances. This intent has not been overly successful, in part I suggest because the concept was hijacked by the industry leading plagiarists who really didn’t understand it and therefore could not possibly teach it in with the impact of its intention.

From my generalized understanding CrossFit, there are potential program design imbalances e.g. more exposure to quad dominant exercises than hip dominant exercises, resulting in injury potential. This point was not lost on the question writer:

"My thoughts are that CrossFit did contribute to my injury due to the large volume of jumping, squatting and running. I would love to know your thoughts on this as well."

7 Time magnifies error: I released a saying in 1998 –

Time magnifies errors in training (17).

All the above concerns will be magnified over time. Considering the extreme nature – volume, intensity, and exercise selection – I suggest you can expect some significant physical complications the longer one participates in activities such as CrossFit. There are many physical therapists and chiropractors who echo this sentiment. Additionally, I am very familiar with the impact on the body of those who participate occupationally in such training environments, especially the Special Forces military personnel.


The points I raise above in my concerns were well summarized by the question writer whose question stimulated this article:

"…I do understand that there are negatives as well. The focus of the WODS is to perform a given amount of reps in as little time as possible, or to perform as many reps as possible in a given time limit. This can lead to a breakdown in form and potential injury. The volume of training also seems to be quite high and could lead to overtraining and overuse injuries if not properly managed. There is also no individualization in the training program. Though some coaches are quite good at pointing out what you need to work on and many clients will use "open box" time to work on these."

In summary, when (not if) a person comes to me and tells me of their injuries whilst participating in CrossFit, I initially ask if they plan to continue in CrossFit. If they do, I tell them I cannot help them. I have a saying that you cannot successfully solve an injury problem in the same environment that it was created in (18) and this is more applicable in any training environment that magnifies its flaws, as I suggest CrossFit does.


In conclusion I have been impressed with the magnitude and success of the CrossFit movement, and I am delighted to see the achievement of Greg Glassman in maintaining control of his intellectual property. There are many ways to achieve fulfilment in exercise and participation is CrossFit is an option. The power that Glassman and CrossFit have is their ability to refine and adapt their training protocols to deal with any recognition of the injury potential associated. Whether they do is unknown and their prerogative. Perhaps the masses are happy to take the injury risks in return for what their culture and environment offers.

As to you as an individual making this decision, it is yours to make. For me the body the only one we have for life, and should be treated with the utmost respect and care. I have worked with many athletes who have taken these risks in their training and competition with the potential for great reward, and I can understand why they have done this. An Olympic medal or world championship or playing professional sport comes with many financial and social rewards, and I know even as they suffer physically for the years after, most feel the sacrifice was worth it.

The question I believe you need to ask yourself is - are the rewards and benefits of CrossFit as it is currently conducted worth the risk for you? Only you can answer that, and I respect whatever decision you make.


(3) Crossfit Study". U.S. Army. May 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
(4) King, I., 1999/2000, Foundations of physical preparation , p. 25
(5) King, I., 1999/2000, Foundations of physical preparation , p. 30
(6) King, I., 2010, Barbells & Bullshit: Challenging your thinking.
(7) King, I., 1998, How to write strength training programs (book), p.38
(8) King, I., 1999, Get Buffed!™(book), p. 23-26
(9) King, I., 2000, Heavy Metal #4,
(10) King, I.J, 1990,: Guidelines for the Safe Implementation of Strength Training Programs, The Sportsmed Newsletter (Qld Branch of the ASMF Newsletter), February issue 1990
(11) King, I., 2005, The way of the physical preparation coach, p. 48
(12) King, I., 1999, Get Buffed!™, p. 53-56
(13) King, I., 1999, Get Buffed!™, p. 34
(14) King, I., 2011, Legacy – Ian King’s Training Innovations, p. 82
(15) King, I., 1998, How to Write Strength Training Programs
(16) King, I., 1998, Strength Specialization Series (DVD), Disc 3
(17) King, I., 1998, How to write strength training programs (book), p.75
(18) I wonder how long it will take for the industries leading plagiarists – and they are truly world champions at it - to be publishing this saying/concept one as their own…You may even hear it as soon as the upcoming ‘functional training’ seminars in the US…

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Helping as few as one person avoid damaging their body through the training is worth the effort!

I received this email today and I thought it was such a great email that it was worthy of a longer reply. So here it is!

Hi, I was listening to Mike Mahler's podcast with Ian recently and what he had to say was very eye opening and went against some, actually most of my perceived training wisdom I have garnered over the years from the internet and other sources that Ian would probably find appalling. The more I listened and read up on Ian's concepts the more I realised maybe I have been doing everything wrong.

I had walking lunges in my warmups, I didn't stretch until the end of a training session. Anyway I could gone on forever in that vein, I would say I am general population, no athlete. I know Ian doesn't coach general population. Hence I am writing this.

I am over 40 male carrying a bit to much weight. I tried to get strong over the years, but I say I did more damage than good. Never had great flexibility and probably have enough imbalances to write a book on. I injured my knee (mild cartilage damage), but recovering well with physio exercises. So range of motion has returned and I am pain free with just some minor stiffness.

Finding bodyweight and 16kg kettlebells good in my rehab and might continue in that vein for a time.

So I guess it comes down what product of Ian's would be good for a 40 plus male (general population) looking to train and enhance his strength, flexibility, iron out imbalances and give longevity to his training life. If Ian doesn't have a product that' suit me, that's fine. I would assume his business is mainly built around elite athletes.

Any help with this inquiry would be greatly appreciated. Yours Sincerely,

P.S. Apologies for the long winded email, but I just can't afford to many more mistakes with my training.

So I wrote back:

xxxx– great to hear you received value from the Mike Mahler podcast! I like the way you say ‘perceived’ training wisdom. Because at the end of the day, that is all it is when we take on others thoughts. When they are truly our own, based on our own experience and analysed as objectively as we can, then they can be more than this.

Most people I talk to are little more than a collection of other peoples thoughts, and the threads are so clear to me I can typically trace their influences.

I like the way you are willing to review your current training habits. I share my conclusions to help people just like yourself, not to be right. So it’s rewarding to hear you have at least paused to reflect on your choices.

I am also impressed with your realization and conclusion about your pursuit of strength that ‘I did more damage than good.’ This rings a bell of familiarity in my writings!

I have formed the opinion that most strength training programs do more damage than good. However it takes many years for the average person to realize this, if ever. The short-term results cause pleasure, but the long-term results inevitably pain. King, I., 2004, Get Buffed!™ III, p. 8-9

…in my opinion most people do more damage to their bodies and long term health than good, through their training. Amazing when you consider the aim of training generally is to improve your body. King, I., 2007, Email to clients – KSI pre-production offer, 6 June 2007

So to answer your question – which of my products would serve? I would recommend the education in the Get Buffed! book combined with the info in the GB II book. I am not suggesting that all the programs in the book are right for you right now, but they are only generic programs and I have always recommended you individualize your training. And the content in the book will help you do that.

Whilst our main focus has been elite athletes, the GB range (an extensive range of products for people just like you) is a by-product of the conclusions I reached during my many decades of training a high volume of elite athletes. The content and methods published in these books have been very well received, changing the way the world trains arguably more than any other single source. And amongst the most plagiarized books as well, so it’s great if you can get the original intent from the source.

In conclusion, I like your PS – you can’t afford to make many more mistakes in your training. I agree, which was my motive for publishing as extensively as I have during the last 20 years – if I can prevent as few as one person from damaging their quality of life, it’s worth my effort. So I look forward to what you can change for the better in your training with my published training information!
--Ian King

Helping as few as one person avoid damaging their body through the training is worth the effort!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Buying success - does it work?

I spent the morning watching a sporting team that contained I estimated about 50% imports. At least half the team members were not there the year before, and my understanding is that their arrival was through the usual channels – a financial incentive.

In sport many choose the path of attempting to buy success through purchasing players from out side their usual feeder programs.

My first professional sporting team that hired me in the 1980s produced their own athletic stock, drawing from their geographical area. It was extremely successful, rated the best program in the world as measured by the scoreboard and the trophy cabinet.

My first personal professional experience of this was in the late 1980s with a team in the National Basketball League (NBL) in Australia. There was a two import limit, which made for a reasonably even playing field. And the numbers being lower meant the impact on what I believe is the most important criteria for success – culture – was relatively contained.

My next exposure was with a new start up franchise in the Australia Football League (AFL) national competition. As the team was new it was made up of 100% imports. This was a massive learning experience and the record books show it was not successful for the first five years on the scoreboard, which is the usual outcome in similar situations.

I have watched many professional teams seek to ‘buy’ championships. Has it worked? I suggest the odds are low. My conclusion after 30+ years of studying what it takes to succeed in sport is that you don’t buy success.

In the wise words of the late great American business philosopher Jim Rohn, ‘for things to change, you must change.’ And I don’t see the purchase of talented players synonymous with the change Jim Rohn was referring to.

The team I was watching this morning came from a recent historical culture of about 27% win loss success ratio. Will this statistic suddenly and significantly change with the importing of players? Most likely. Has anything else changed in the culture? I doubt it has. Will any long term lessons be taken away? I doubt it.

I suggest the main impact long term will be a negative one on the culture, as the values of all shift towards the true values of the decision to import – that money is the highest value in the team culture. That you don’t have to change or work or become something – you just buy it. That there is little value in working in and with the system towards self-improvement because when better is wanted, it will be bought.

Do I believe it is wise or desirable to buy success through recruiting? No. The fundamental messages are I believe inappropriate. The young up and coming athletes in the feeder program loose faith in their future in that environment, and lack of commitment and lack of loyalty to the program are fed. The athletes in the program conclude that all they need to do if they are in a hole is to pay their way out of it.

Do you remember the first pro team I worked with during the 1980s which was one of the best in the world in its space? Well I watched that team try to buy success through importing, as they slid to the ranking of the worst team in their southern hemisphere competition. The impact went far beyond the scoreboard on the day. The drain of disillusioned young athletes from their feeder program to other programs became the major source of complaint and reason provided for lack of success by this very team during the ensuing years. Ironic, because they created that problem.

I do however endorse a culture that builds over time to greatness, nurturing and taking responsibility for those in their feeder systems. Where athletes trust the system to support and nurture them, where they know all have the same vested interest in their success. Where they are taught by their role models that greatest can be achieved if you are committed to developing yourself.

And to add a further element, the average age in this sporting team I referred to in the above example was 13 yrs of age…..At this rate we can expect professional importing to dominant in primary school sport within the next decade.

I overheard one of the young athletes enthuse to the coach “Wow, no wonder they are in the A team” referring to the superior performance of his new team mate had pushed him to the sidelines. To which the coach replied “Well you can get there too if you work hard.” To which I mentally replied “Well actually no - there is no evidence at this stage that these imports possess their domiant traits due to hard work. There is the element of genetics, foreign culture upbringing, early maturation etc etc.”

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Is it really going to help them become a better athlete?

If they can’t catch and pass there is no value in teaching them how to wrestle!

The young athlete was receptive and hard working, a pleasure to work with. It was his first speed session with me, and it really did need it! We went through a series of basic drills relevant to his need and it was apparent they would really help with his specific sport, a running power sport.

Towards the end we engaged in a time-tested staple of speed development, starts from on the ground. It was really challenging for him however he was fully committed. How did I judge this commitment? By the way he fell to the ground a number of times shortly after the start. Now I always warn the new athlete that this may occur and encourage them that if that happens it is not only okay, but that it means they are committed.

As we got to the end of the session he spoke candidly about the obvious limit in his ability to accelerate up from off the ground. “We have a martial arts coach come in to coach us, and he has told us that you should stand up first then run.” Perhaps explaining why he had been so challenged in the last drills.

I took the time to explain the benefits in transfer to his sport from being able to accelerate from a low body position.

At the same time ruing the popular trend of bringing in an ‘advisor’ coach from another sport because something concluded that this was help the athlete in a different sport. Take wresting for example. This is a out-of-sport skill that is being taught to Australian rugby codes in a ‘must-do’ way, spreading down to even athletes in primary school.

Yes, you could find 101 ways to justify how skills from another sport could transfer into any particular sport. What is missing is the discernment in coaching decisions that reflect the wisdom to know what to bring in and when.

Here’s a hint – if an athlete can’t catch and pass, and is in a hand-eye coordination sport – there is little justification for them learning non-specific skills such as wresting. That’s just one simple example. And when coaches do choose to import ‘advisors’ from other sports, ideally select one that through experience measured in success they have a high level ‘feeling’ for the specific skills and movement patterns in the sport they are advising to!

In summary, you don’t have to follow the trend of importing advisors from other sports. And if you do you need to review and reflect on the accuracy of the 'advice' they are giving. You can and should make your own mind up about their relevance at any given time of your athletes progress!