Monday 31 October 2016

The Top 7 Fitness Deceptions. Are You Falling For Any of These?

I’ve got a confession to make: I don’t like the fitness industry. Yes, I have been part of it for over 18 years, and yes I have many colleagues in this industry that I admire and respect. However, I’m in the fitness/strength & conditioning industry not because of what it is, but because of what it can be. Proper exercise, nutrition and lifestyle habits can be absolutely life changing! The problem with the industry is that it is way too easy to make a quick buck – at the expense of innocent, hard-working people who are trying desperately to see results. If you are working hard to improve your aesthetics, your performance and/or your health, you have to guard yourself against these 7 fitness deceptions.

Deception #1: Soreness = superior workout
Let’s say I want to trick you into thinking that my workouts are better than what you are currently doing. All I have to do is find out what you are currently doing and show you something really different than that. The next day, you will be crazy sore. Why? Because doing something different is the easiest way to get sore. Then, I can say to you, “See, look how sore you got – that just shows you great my program is!”

The truth: while soreness may happen as the result of proper training it is not the goal. It is very easy to make someone sore. To make someone better is a whole other story.

Deception #2: Muscle confusion 
Another classic deception is muscle confusion. Change things up, keep the muscle guessing! People love this because every workout is fun, unique and different. The problem with this is that while it is fun for your mind, your muscles don’t get confused. 

The truth: staying with your current training program for a reasonable amount of time (e.g. 4-8 weeks) and focusing on progressing it will give you much better gains than randomly switching things up every time you hit the gym.

Deception #3: Telling people what they want to hear
The easiest way to make a quick buck in this industry is to simply tell people what they want to hear. 

“You’re not really fat. You just have an impacted colon. You don’t need to change your eating habits and work harder in the gym, you just need my special colon cleanse.”
“The reason you are skinny is not because you don’t eat enough or work hard enough in the gym. Just cut your training down to once a week for 20 minutes and take my special miracle supplement and you’ll pack on slabs of rock-hard muscle!”

The truth: yes, there are times when underlying health issues or little things can hold someone back from reaching their goals. However, don’t sweat the small stuff until you are consistently doing the big stuff. This would include:  
  • Having a clear, realistic but challenging goal
  • Picking the best exercises
  • Training hard 3-4 time per week
  • Focusing on getting better at these exercises
  • Eating whole natural foods emphasizing vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats and appropriate amounts of good carbs based on your needs, goals, current body composition and body type
  • Prioritizing sleep – this is amazing for body transformation, but often overlooked
  • Practicing recovery and stress management techniques

Deception #4: Feel the burn
Most people focus too much on feelings when they train and not enough on results. If they feel the burn, it must be working – right? Maybe. If you are doing bodybuilding or endurance training, you will definitely feel the burn. If you are doing low-rep strength or power training power training you won’t. Also, you can feel the burn as the result of good training (e.g. 20-rep set of heavy squats) or the result of bad training (e.g. a million reps of partial squats with an 8lb group fitness padded bar on your back). Anything will burn if you do it long enough. However, in most cases harder, not-longer is what you need to get the results you want.

Yes will will feel the burn with these - eventually

Deception #5: High tech is better
In this technological age, more and more people are bringing their gadgets to the gym. They have special monitors, watches and apps to track all kinds of things. Now, some of these can be good. For example, with my athletes, I like them sprinting with an electronic timer, jumping with our jump-tester mat and doing power movements when a Push trainer than measures their bar speed and power output. However, countless people improved their aesthetics and performance without these gadgets. Also, they are only helpful if they do not distract you from the most-important things like hard, focused training!

Deception #6: New & different = better
In the world of technology, newer is better. A cell phone from 10 years ago is not even comparable with the ones from today. However, in the case of fitness, we are talking about your body – not technology. Just because something is new and different does not mean it is better than the tried and true. For example, the best tools for training (e.g. barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, rings, sand bags, strongman stuff) are all old a dirt. When it comes to different, there are 3 types of different:

  1. Bad-different: unstable surface training is a classic example of this. About 15 years ago, the trend was to do all your training on a ball, wobble board or Bosu. People loved it – it was fun, unique, different and challenging without really being hard. The problem: we don’t live on round, unstable surfaces. Also, when you try to do strength training on these things, you end up decreasing the work of your target muscles because you have to contract all your other muscles to keep from falling off. 
  2. Different-different: sometimes you are in a rut and need something different to spark new progress. This can be switching to an equally-effective exercise (e.g. back squats to front squats – not back squats to leg extensions) or changing your style of training (e.g. whole body vs. split routines). 
  3. Good-different: this is when you add something to your training that is new to you AND very effective. A classic example is loaded carries. While they are not new, they are new to most people. They provide a fresh new change to your workout and are extremely effective.

Good different!

Deception #7: Celebrity endorsed fitness gimmicks
Want to sell a useless piece of fitness junk? Just pay a celebrity to endorse it for you. The problem with this is that many people fail to realize that genetics plays the biggest role in how a person looks. Sure there are many celebrities who really work hard in the gym, but this is only icing on top of amazing genetics. Also, few if any celebrities actually transformed their bodies using one of the silly products they promote.

How about you? What other fitness deceptions have you seen in the industry? I welcome your comments and questions below or on my Facebook Page

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