What are the facts? Who is actually telling the truth?
Although this is only going to be a quick article, I feel it is one of the most beneficial ones for any readers trying to distinguish facts from fiction.
To begin with, I am normally quite tolerant of other members of the sports/fitness industry and their claims, at the end of the day they’re only trying to make a living themselves. I will aim to support people as much as possible by developing their knowledge through education, application and teaching the facts. However, over the years I have developed an assertion and intolerance of blatant misinformation. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t me being malevolent or intentionally annoyed at practitioners themselves as much as the annoyance of false claims and scams/fads.
Literally countless times I have been working in a gym/strength and conditioning setting and I’ve overheard a “personal trainer” shout something like, “Yeah this new workout program can pack on 20lbs of muscle in 4 weeks” or “Situps are the best ab exercise”. and I’ve had to shake my head with gritted teeth.
Now again, so as to not upset anyone, as mentioned earlier I have no anger towards that one individual. Chances are, they know a lot of stuff and are diligent to learn more, it’s more that the stuff they think they know is either misinformed or simply, wrong.
Far too often nowadays that “fitness professionals” will claim they are experts because they themselves managed to get in great shape once before going on holiday (often based off the advice of others) and they think they can bottle their own progress and sell it at £30 an hour.
Or, more recently, there is a breed of professionals that “read research” and spout out well-rehearsed results of each articles to a smiling, doe-eyed crowd that are amazed at their genius. However, the results they are talking about may not even apply to that specific situation! But the word “research” instantly makes you smart right?
I could sit here all day and ramble about the irritating aspects of the fitness industry, but instead, I only want to provide a few lessons that you can take with you to give you a clearer view of what is true and what is false.
In my opinion, this is the single greatest influencing factor of any aspect of training. At the end of the day, results are pretty much guaranteed regardless of any program you are on. Being in the gym/out on the field etc. will (more or less) always produce some results more than staying at home.
However, not every program will give you the maximal results. Training is a matter of gaining the most results in the shortest time possible right? This is where context comes in and where the confusion occurs when applying the facts to the real-world.As mentioned earlier, these people who spout at research findings have almost always skimmed the surface of the article in question and not delved into the methods used. This ultimately leads to false claims of “carbohydrates/sugars are worse than fats” and results in individual’s that lead an active lifestyle cutting out carbs and then wondering why their concentration may be suffering at work.
That piece of research may have been carried out on overweight, diabetic rats who have been prevented from exercising a day in their lives. Applying the results based on their physiology would be ludicrous when trying to increase your 1RM squat/1200m run time etc.
Would you turn to research for endurance training, to enhance muscle hypertrophy?
You’ve probably heard this saying before and guess what, it rings true throughout the strength and conditioning/fitness world as well.
There are certain physiological limitations that the human body can reach in a certain amount of time possible. Now, before I go any further, there are a select few god-amongst-men individuals who possess unique abilities previously unbeknown to man. That is how the 4 minute mile, and more recently the 500kg deadlift etc. became possible. However, these individuals are few and far between.
As a general rule of thumb, there are certain limitations at the rate at which most individuals can progress. This doesn’t mean you should not expect drastic improvements when starting a new program, it simply means being cautious and question any unbelievable claims that may be made.
Claiming to add pounds of muscle between workouts is simply absurd and out of the question. I will not divulge why as it could take up an entire article in itself, but realistic projections of improvements are far more believable and attainable than bold claims to turn you into the next Usain Bolt in 4 months’ time.
Relatively self-explanatory and the number one problem with cookie-cutter programs. From since you could walk and talk, you have constantly been told that you are individual. In most aspects of education, you are also taught this and from a scientific point of view, it is also correct.
You are individual and may respond to things far differently than your peers. So how, just how could a program written 4 years ago by someone on the other side of the world guarantee you a certain level of progress.
Now, a key point is there is a difference between something that is offered and something that is guaranteed. All programs should be viewed as a potential offer of success, you are investing your time into it with the potential of self-improvement; some programs are simply better than others.
However, no results are 100% guaranteed to bring you the results you want. Therefore, if you see/hear someone 100% guarantee that no matter what, that following their 12-week program will give you the results you are after, my advice would be to simply smile and walk away.
Jon Mallon has spent every waking moment developing his understanding of the body’s capabilities. He has an undying passion for all things strength, with his extensive knowledge from coaching hundreds of clients, to his 1st Class BSc Sports Science and MSc Strength and Conditioning, paving the way to deliver results directly to you. He has been a strength and conditioning coach for a variety of sports from amateur boxing to professional rugby, providing him with the art of coaching required to deliver the science of training. Jon's current areas of focus involve comprehensive postural analysis, neurological strength and evolutionary biology.
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