Which of these examples of mass fitness psychosis have you fallen prey to? Maybe it’s time for a cold splash of reality.
Many lifters fall victim to what I call “mass fitness psychosis.” This is a type of hysteria you sometimes see among people who belong to the same isolated group or community… like ours. Let’s dive right in.
1. Most of the time, disappointing results in the gym are due to poor work ethic, not sub-optimal programming.
The training methods that build great physiques are staggeringly varied. Some lifters excel using machines; others are successful using free weights. Some swear by slow tempos; others use plenty of momentum and acceleration. Some rarely exceed 5 reps; others rarely do less than 15. Some swear by bro splits; some use whole-body routines. Others prosper on upper/lower splits.
Genetics and PED use can indeed make training style largely irrelevant, but, all else being equal, your work ethic is probably the most impactful variable in your overall training approach. And it’s without question the least appreciated factor for most lifters.
Bottom line: Before you start overhauling your training methods because you’re not getting the results you expect, sit down and honestly appraise your work ethic. It’s clearly the trait that all successful strength and physique athletes have in common.
There are two long-standing statistics regarding low back pain:
- About 75% of all people will experience low back pain at some point.
- Most low back pain resolves within 30 days, regardless of what you do (or don’t do) about it.
The two observations (particularly the second) have long given shelter to many questionable treatment methods, thanks to the widespread tendency to mistake correlation for causation.
A general understanding of anatomy and kinesiology supports the idea that all orthopedic structures probably respond to various treatment modalities, particularly the least appreciated among them, which is rest. By rest, I mean being patient enough to abstain from constantly testing the injury site, hoping you’ve resolved the injury without allowing sufficient time to heal.
And, if you’ll allow me to take a slight tangent, a good decision-making “rule of thumb” is that when the value of a method is unknown but the cost is low, it’s probably worth implementing.
Dr. Eric Helms sums up this idea by observing that “there are no bad foods, only bad diets.” Don’t miss the point: some foods are certainly healthier than others. But the sum-total of what you consume has a much greater impact on your health than the quality of specific foods within your diet. Two reasons for this:
- If your total calorie intake is appropriate, this by itself limits the amount of “bad” foods you might be consuming. The devil is in the dose.
- When your total calorie intake is appropriate, you’ll maintain an optimal body weight, which greatly influences overall health.
Consuming low-nutrient/high-calorie “junk” foods is mostly problematic from a behavioral standpoint. Eating such foods leads to unmanageable cravings, resulting in excessive calorie consumption. If you’re one of these people, use restraint.
This is a bad idea that’s been on life-support for a couple of decades now. Its longevity is rooted in the fact that most of us instinctively assume that anything difficult must be beneficial. The truth? Difficulty is a necessary, but not sufficient, precondition for effective training.
The primary adaptations from resistance training (hypertrophy, strength, power, mobility, etc.) require high muscular tension. Any time you perform an exercise in an unstable manner, you’re sacrificing your ability to create such tensions.
While that trade-off may have merit and some context (think physical therapy), most lifters are far better off using stable exercises.
Many lifters justify their poor progress by accusing more successful lifters of drug use (while deeming less successful lifters as simply stupid). In this version of reality, you always come out on top, blissfully unaware of the actual reality: although the barbell doesn’t worship at the altar of equity and inclusion, it’s more than happy to reward anyone willing to put in hard, consistent work.
But let’s take a closer look at the concept of cheating. Most people would define cheating as when you use methods that give you an unfair advantage over others. While this is logical enough, the problem is that when it comes to our life in the gym, “fairness” simply doesn’t exist.
Look, I’m not saying that cheating isn’t a thing. Sure, some people cheat. However, you can do nothing about it, so from a practical perspective, the best approach is to focus on your own behaviors and let the cards fall where they may.
Disagree with any of my points? Or do you have additional examples of this phenomenon that I should’ve included? Let’s talk shop!