• Words from Custom Training athletes

      Recently, I asked some of my athletes to answer two questions. First, why did they sign up for Team RTS Custom Training to begin with? Second, were they happy with their choice? Here are a few responses...

      Ive been training for some years now and had alot of interest in training. Spent countless hours reading articles, books and participating on forums. And after a while you start to realize that it dosent matter how much you read and from what sources. As long as there is the smallest doubt that a typical training method or diet youíve read about doesnít work for you. Well, then you will probably not stay motivated to stick with it for long enough time to tell if its actually working. And with the huuuuuge amount of bro knowledge and articles written by people that just want to make money on some random supplements its hard to really sort of the bullshit from the good stuff.
      And even when you start on well known programs like sheiko, 5x5 etc. You donít get them spesialized for your own needs and weaknesses. And then you will always have that bugging your mind. Is this too much work? Will I get overtrained? Is sheiko for genetic freaks or steroid users only? What if I canít finish my program? What if I miss a training session? Well, unless your very careless about your training or very experienced you will have many questions.
      What drew me to RTS in the first place was the auto regulating workloads. It seemed very logical. I bought your book and DVD, read the book and watched the dvd a couple of times. It was alot of new stuff to put together and i finally figured that if I was to stay motivated i had to know that my programming were right and that i trained like i was supposed to. And the only way I could know that for sure was to pay you to help me. And for the price, that was a no brainer. And the fact that youíre a very experienced lifter also made a difference
      Iím very happy with your service so far! There are a lot of experienced users on your site that are both inspiring and helpful. I get the impression that you actually care about your customers. That may seem like an obvious behavior, but in todays socity it isnt.
      The only improvement i see with your service so far is some minor bugfixes and improving of user interface on your site. It could be a bit more intuitive. =)
      Anders Dahl

      I injured my back(2 herniated discs, some nerve damn also). After several months off and months of rehab I was ready to lift again. My problem was where to start. I was a lot weaker due to injury and time off. When I tried to start lifting again, I went to heavy to fast. The frustration began to mount and I was starting to lose focus. I came across your site and philosophy. I believe auto regulation is the best approach for me. I purchased your manual and read your articles. As a lifter you reputation proceeds you. I understood in my head what I should be doing, but when I started to apply it I kept hitting road blocks. I then read your advertisement for custom training. It totally hit home. I fit the situation you outlined on your site.
      In the short time I have used your services, I have had a very positive experience. I like your total approach to training. I never really took into account cardio, gpp and recovery. I am learning a lot about exercise selection and timing. As I continue to use your services I am looking forward to learning about yearly cycling of programming. TRAC is an awesome tool! It has been helpful so far in gauging my recovery and status. Also it seems you are always available to answers my questions no matter how irrelevant they may be. I think this helps solidify you product.
      Ron Zsido

      First off, I had been looking for a coach to help me get to the next level. I had been talking with a buddy of mine on another forum. We had talked about your ideas a bit, and he spoke highly of your work.
      Then, I read your book. That was a huge factor. While I can't say that I understood it, a number of lightbulbs went off while I was reading it. What was equally important as the message was the tone: you were very down to earth, you clearly "lived" the ideas you were talking about, they weren't just theoretical constructs you were mentally testing. That came across loud and clear in your writing.
      Finally, I researched everything I could about you on the web, listened to a podcast you had done, found the old forum. Again, you consistently came across as somebody who was actively pursuing the truth, and living with his ideas: you weren't just rehashing somebody else's information, you believed in your ideas enough to apply them successfully to your own lifting.
      The fact that you lifted big weight was extremely important. I realize that, yes, knowledge can be obtained independently of first-hand physical experience: however, I'm not sure that all knowledge can be obtained in this manner. There's definitely something to be said for spending time in the trenches.
      Lastly, there were no "warning flags." You approach lifting the way I do: you don't bang your head against the plates, scream like a little child having a temper tantrum, and work yourself into a blind rage prior to lifting. Your approach is thoughtful, self-aware, and reflective. You don't come across as a "show off", or filled with yourself. This is very much the way I lift, and live.
      So, I thought there would be a good fit all around. I was right.
      Am I happy with the results?
      Well, yes. When I get some time, I'm going to update my website with an evaluation of our progress to date - much like I did at the six month mark. If anything, I think we've started to find our stride. My progress this year has been nothing short of incredible: competing in three comps in 5 weeks was an amazing thing to pull off - for anybody. Let alone for a 49 year old, let alone for a 49 year old with a body riddled with arthritis, DISH, and degenerated discs - a body that most doctors would say should not be lifting, period. To set a huge deadlift PR in the middle of that run? Fantastic.
      You've never once made me feel like I couldn't succeed. You believe in me. You treat me with respect. Every time we talk / e-mail, I come away feeling more positive about myself and my dreams.
      Bob Wannamaker

      The reason I finally decided to get help with coaching has a couple of reasons. Earlier that year I'd finished a hard-wired percentage program which did me very good. I learned a lot about what exercises (and other parameters) had which effect and I felt that I'd made progress on more than one plan. Before that I'd done customized Sheiko-blocks which also taught me a lot. So for the next couple of blocks I'd begun to assemble a new hard-wired program for 12-weeks with whatI thought was the dog's bollocks with regards to how the volume and intensity waved, the exercise selections and all of that. But half-way through creating this monster of an Excel-sheet I was amazed by how repetitive and boring it was. And how I kept adding features for regulating the level of progression of various parameters and needless to say it was a mess.
      Before that I'd also read the RTS book and implemented putting down RPE:s for each set with the idea that I would redo (roughly) the same program again, and customize it based on my previous experience.
      I scrapped the Excel-monster and compiled something using ideas from everything I knew then but according to the RTS-principles and started on that. And I more or less immediately started making extraordinary gains. It was as if I had gains just waiting to come out should the program just let me use the weights I was capable of doing rather than fixed numbers from a piece of paper. But then I got overtrained / overreached and realised two very important things. One was the limit of what I actually know about programming the training for someone at at or above a certain level. And two: that I was above that level. I could continue and make gains. Good gains too compared to most lifters but that's only because most lifters in my mind, throw away their potential on sub-par training. And when I saw that Mike T. offered up customized training and I think I read an article a while back about what that would entail. I decided I'd give it a shot. This was about a month or two away from the '09 nationals.

      It got interesting right away because I was called to do max-sessions in all lifts once or twice a week. The interesting part about this is that I would never had dreamed about doing that myself and it worked. I was worried at the outset that I'd have problems with simply doing what someone else ordered of me. Especially if I could not constantly ask a thousand questions about why and what, questioning everything. This has not been a problem for me at all; I've been able to ask and give feedback where I think there could be better options. Other times I'd be worried about lack of development in some regards or certain things but they would just clear up a little later.
      The biggest change I think is that when you have a coach, you are no longer simply fiddling with your powerlifting career as if it were your stamp collection. You're doing it for real, like a sportsman. It's serious and for real. And I think that if you are serious and you take your potential seriously you should consider getting help with reaching higher goals. Because that's also my experience; when you program for yourself I think you're going to be more bound by what you perceive to be Very Heavy Weights in a way that having someone else guide you doesn't. But that's probably individual.
      Another thing that's also probably individual is how you relate to the plan. How much do you allow your training to divert from the plan under circumstances such as being tired, being extra strong, life happening and simliar things? A positive thing, although I can do better, is that I tend to overtrain when left to my own devices. And I'd do stupid things like train more just to get over the hump, crippling myself. It's harder to let yourself go like that when you have a coach because you want to be a good student and follow the plan. Because you know that after following the plan closely a longer period, there's a good chance that it can improve to be even better adapted to you down the line. And I feel that this is exactly where the source for big gains is to be found.
      All of this said though, I'll be honest and say that I'd still have a very hard time getting coaching from someone that could not obliterate me in a powerlifting competition. Childish perhaps but it's a realization. This is a mental game after all.
      I have only one negative thing and that's the relative awkwardness associated with "online coaching" in that it's hard to really transfer the entirety of things. How does it look when I lift (which is pretty easily alleviated with videos) and the different softer values surrounding relationships between different individuals and dynamics around that. It's not for complete beginners; you have to have that internal drive.
      Patrik Andersson

      Would you be willing to tell me why you decided to sign with me to be your coach?
      1.) Your resume is what it is, and speaks for itself. If you've got goals to be elite, and I do, you want to be coached by someone that's elite.
      2.) Haven't never meet you before, I've made assumption based on your book, website, and email. You seem very professional, organized, and have the the training process down to a science.
      3.) Your quick to respond to emails.
      And what has been your experience so far (happy or not)?
      1.) So far so good. If I'd had questions, you've answered them. My only one comment would be that you'd critique my lifts more. I know you have been already, but I've got to be doing more that can be corrected.
      Adam Rosario

      After almost 30 years of bodybuilding style training, I decided I needed to shift gears and try something different. Powerlifting had always held appeal, so I decided to abandon what I had been doing for many years and strike out to learn an entirely new discipline. I began reading everything I could find, and in the process read an interview with Mike. Later on I heard him interviewed again on the radio about RTS. I immediatley liked the man I heard because he came across as unassuming, humble, polite, and with a sharp mind and great ideas. I had been beating myself up pretty bad trying to follow several different powerlifting protocols, none of which took in to consideration a personís age (49 at that time), natural or not, etc., so the whole concept of RTS was also very appealing. Sort of an auto-regulating training system. The fact that [Mike] trains drug free, and frequently competes raw also very much appealed to me, because I am also drug free and a raw competitor. I know that the best way to become successful at something is to find someone who is already successful, and if they are willing, learn everything you can from them. When I discovered that Mike offered custom training, It was a natural fit, and I felt that it would be well worth it and no doubt save several years of hit or miss learning on my own. It has been the best training decision that I have ever made. I cannot say enough positive about RTS and Mike's help. At first, I was thrilled every time I hit a new PR, but they have become so commonplace that I expect to be hitting new ones regularly now. The training is very demanding, but I always seem to be recovered just in the knick of time for the next session. The training changes constantly, so it never gets monotonous. What really amazes me is that I can avoid an exercise for a couple of months, come back to that same movement and immediately start out with a new PR. This was unheard of with any training I have ever done before. This is what I should have been doing 30 years ago!
      Mark Robb

      I decided to sign with you to be my coach because of many factors. First, I was training using a westside-type template and it worked for a while then my progress stopped. I started looking for reasons why I was doing what I was doing. I looked at westsides workouts and talked with people who use similar training or have trained at westside and it seems that you just pick an exercise for the day to max out on. This didn't make a whole lot of sense to me for everyone to follow the max effort exercises week by week. I thought there had to be some differences in programming for me to continue my journey to reach my potential. I knew there had to be more to training in order for me to reach the top, so I started expanding my reading more and more. Instead of reading so many articles and books that related to different ways to train and different programs, I started looking more into the science of training and WHY we do certain things. This helped me understand different types of programs alot better. I studied alot about RTS before deciding to hire you. I read the articles, forums, archives, etc. I knew you were one of the top powerlifters, but that is not a big reason I decided to ask you to help me out. There are some people that are very genetically gifted that might not really even know how they got there. Any program or style of training could make them be at the top. What made me decide to hire you was your knowledge, willingness to explain yourself, and passion. It's easy to see what kind of coach you would be by reading your responses to other peoples questions in such detail. I wanted to try RTS after reading about it and I learned that you hired people for a very reasonable price, so that was it. Here is an excerpt from the back of a book I am currently reading that reminded me of the question you asked in which I agree with. "Never judge an individual's exercise and nutrition knowledge by his or her degrees, certificates, physique, or athletic ability, but by his or her passion, ability to explain, and willingness to debate beliefs and proclamations. Not many of the so-called fitness experts are willing to debate their statements when challenged. If you are not willing to debate your statements with formidable opponents, you shouldn't be making those statements." That and it also helped that you are a world class powerlifter yourself, so you practice what you preach.
      Dustin Smith

      Late last year, I came across a paper written by Mladen Jovanovic called "Planning the Strength Training". It was written the way many thesis are in that it started with alot of "here's the stuff that is widely agreed on in our field of study and the people responsible for it". So he wrote alot of people like Verkoshanky, Zatsiorsky, etc. He did not give much credit to Louie Simmons, but he was very complimentary of you. I thought, wow here's young guy already being mentioned in the same breath as all these Russian greats. Not to mention, it was a great paper, that helped me understand the similarities between systems and broke down alot of jargon for me. Thats why I sought you out.
      Happy? Understand I'm pushin 43 and worried about how long I have so my expectations are high and fast. I'm not happy enough, yet. I still feel I'm barely above my previous all time bests. When I am well above my old bests, I will be happy.
      Roy Andrew

      After Seiko Training and Westside training, I had a few minor, but important (to me) things I had trouble with. Mentally, I never seemed to really know "where I was" on strength until the last 2-3 weeks. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I always felt better if I knew I was making some PR's in certain movements. Training Raw on Westside (and Louie Simmons has my upmost respect) I found myself "going backwards" in strength and could't figure out where I was messing up. On Seiko, I kept felt like I was 'undertraining' and it became a little boring, but I did have some small success with it.
      After I received your book, I was a little confused about the proper way to set up the cycles. That's when I figured I should contact the "author" for help. I know I won't know, or feel the complete results from these weeks of your guidance, until August 14th, I do feel stronger, both physically and mentally. At 59 years of age, that gaining of strength in most movements are not common results that I hear a lot about.
      Rick Cornett