Why “Methods” and “Systems” Can Be Dangerous

We’ve all heard of training programs or exercise practices that have the word ‘method’ or ‘system’ in the title. Innocent enough right? Maybe not.

Words like ‘method’ and ‘system’ often signify something that is unique, proprietary and likely something that has a pre-determined, step-by-step process. On the surface, this is a great thing. What’s not to like about a simple, clear, step-by-step process in which to learn something or get fitness results by?

Variables? What Variables?

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Here’s the catch… In regard to endurance sports training, or any type of training for that matter, there are typically multiple variables that influence the end result. Most all pre-determined training systems and methods do not and cannot take all of these variables into consideration. Instead, they cherry pick the variables that best fits their agenda and create a ‘system’ out of it. Ignoring variables for the purpose of simplification, marketing or even worse, a lack of understanding, is unprofessional at best and unethical at worst.

Most systems do not adapt to unique situations and scenarios, as they typically operate within a narrow set of parameters.

We’re Right, They’re Wrong

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Not every method or system contains lies, however, it is likely that many methods and systems omit important information that likely affects their efficacy.

Most systems and methods have a large degree of bias due to the limited amount of information being taken into consideration. There are very few areas in sports science and endurance sports training where an absolute, definitive statement can be made. As noted above, this is due to the many variables that affect most training scenarios.

In closing, be aware of any training program or process that calls itself a ‘system’ or ‘method.’ Another red flag is a program that makes a lot of definitive statements regarding the right and wrong way to do something. There is rarely one right way to do something.

Do not take things at face value. Do research, talk to other coaches and athletes, ask questions. Before you spend money on a system or method, make sure it takes an all-encompassing and comprehensive approach.


Rick Prince is the founder of United Endurance Sports Coaching Academy (UESCA), a science/evidence-based endurance sports coaching education company that certifies running and triathlon coaches.

To get a $50 discount on the Running Coach Certification, click here!

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