Training Myths

 

Fitness Magazines

Most of today's fitness magazines are nothing more than rags full of advertisements for supplements. Doesn't it make you at least a little angry that  that you paid good money just to read their ads?. Many of the articles that pop up every month are often written by "theorizers," someone who can barely squat enough weight to raise themselves out of a chair. They present numerous "routines" each and every month, and proclaim the latest methods of "periodization," "cycling," and "the best machine for building leg strength," how you can't succeed because you don't have the right genetics, and loads of other useless information  The routines presented sometimes can work if..., 
1) You don't have a job..., 
2) You "juice" as hard as the "subjects".. and 
3) You can pull yourself out of your confusion over reps, sets, cycles, intensity, etc., etc. 

Most people interested in weight training or fitness only become confused by the information overload, and much of it is bad information. They never see much in the way of progress, and that is largely due to lack of real work when they train. There may be times when periodiztion, and cycling will help break through plateaus, but for the average person who wants to gain strength, and condition their body, hard work on the basics is all that is needed. Brooks Kubik said it well in his book "Dinosaur Training, The Lost Secrets of Strength and Development." The fitness magazines began to discuss all the reasons you can't succeed, and set you up with a "failure mindset" about the same time steroids came into use. The publishers discovered that if everyone believed they couldn't succeed without "the magic pill," then "supplements" could become the "magic pill," and they could make tons more money selling supplements than they could with their magazine.

Health Clubs/Personal Trainers

Most of today's "health clubs" aren't much better. There are are few good health clubs and gyms, but you'll have to look hard to find them. Many of the personal trainers at the typical health club wouldn't know a snatch from a dead-lift. They may indeed possess some very fine credentials. However, most of the current "theories and hypothesis" concerning fitness training being taught focuses on "isolation movements," "low-intensity aerobics," and other such nonsense, and are presented from a legal perspective designed more to prevent a lawsuit than help someone get into shape. I've seen "personal trainers" who have worked with the same client for years, and that client looks absolutely no different than when they started, nor are they any stronger. At the same time, while their client is "training," they are chatting with someone else about what club they are going to tonight. The most helpful thing done might be to add a couple of plates to the machine while the client rests between sets, right..., really helpful, we wouldn't want the trainee to get too tired at the gym! If you have never trained with weights before, you could do well to enlist the services of a good personal trainer, to show you the proper way to perform necessary lifts, and the necessary lifts will not be on exercise machines, unless you have have some pretty serious medical problems. A review session from time to time can also be of benefit. However, you shouldn't need a personal trainer for your motivation. Your motivation must come from within. It must come from the satisfaction you experience through your gains, be those gains in strength measured in pounds added to the bar, or the fat  you've lost, or the new muscle that you've built. If you are training to gain approval by others, your training is in vain.

Many "health clubs" are filled with gleaming "state-of-the-art fitness machines" and signs on the treadmill asking that you not spend over 20 minutes on one. Rarely, will you see more than one bench press, one power rack,  one chin-up/pullup bar, maybe a dip station,  never a kettlebell, and even more infrequent, someone actually using this type equipment for it's intended purpose. Instead you'll probably see the power rack, if they have one, being a convenient place to put a barbell, (one of the two present in the club), for curls so the "weight-trainer" doesn't have to squat down and actually pick up the bar. That could lead to overtraining you know! and lower back strain. Oh, and don't forget, they usually ask that you "not drop the weights, rather set them down easily and controlled." Give me a break, after I just finished a set of 400 lb + dead-lifts, I think I'll go ahead and set them down HARD, thank you! Tell your personal trainer to follow the goofy rules with the Barbie weights. No, most of today's health clubs are only interested in getting the maximum number of customers in and out in a minimum amount of time. If a health club or "fitness center" is serious about providing the proper tools for their clientele, you'll find at least as many free weight stations as there are machines, Kettlebells, more power racks than personal trainers, and dumbbells over 100 lbs. in weight. There are a few fine facilities out there, but you will have look hard to find them.

As for the gleaming, "state-of-the-art fitness machines"... you might as well stay on the couch. They are a waste of good steel. Why, you ask? "They isolate a muscle group so well...and make my workout easier and more convenient." You want ease and convenience? Go to the 7-11. Even if it were possible, why on Gods' green earth would you ever want to isolate a muscle group? Are your muscle groups isolated when you're carrying groceries up the stairs? Are your muscle groups isolated when you're moving a heavy piece of furniture? Are your muscle groups isolated when you're climbing a mountain with a 70 pound pack. Are your muscle groups isolated when you're wrestling a drugged-up armed-criminal to the ground or your judo opponent to the mat? The answer is NO! For functional strength and fitness you must have the ability to have muscle groups working together. With that said there is a place for some of the machines, but it is at the very bottom of your priority list. Machines attempt to mimic the corresponding free weight movement. In dong so, they restrict movement to one plane of motion. Working in only one plane of motion sets the user up for injury and overtraining. You can get much more work done more effectively, and in less time with free weights, and in a manner less prone to injury.

Present Day "Fitness Fads"

Have you ever been up late at night and see an infomercial for one of the latest "perfect body in 20 minutes a day" machines and think..."I think that could work !" Or the latest "miracle herb/drug," diet plan guaranteed to help you melt away 30 pounds of fat in 30 days? We'll tell you right now.. they don't work. People today want convenience. They want to possess something which their mind can picture, but they are unwilling to take the responsibility and work to make it happen. That's right, we said work. Real fitness, real strength, real fat loss, takes good old sweat and hard work, you might as well accept that fact and until you do, you'll still be the same old you. Once you accept the inevitable and get with the right program, the rewards will be well worth the pain.

Sure, you can lose weight by cutting calories (diet), but without building muscle in the process, you'll be a lighter version of the former you. Building muscle will not only raise your body's metabolism, thereby increasing fat loss, but add a much more attractive filler to the lighter you than loose skin. If you do lose weight by dieting alone, once your metabolism corrects itself, most of the weight will return.

For less than the cost of 2 months' membership at most of today's "fitness clubs," you can own two Kettlebells, which if used as advertised will allow you to build incredible levels of strength, endurance, fitness and fat loss. In addition to your Kettlebells, for less than 1/2 the price of nearly all the "total body home gym and fitness miracle machines," you can own a barbell set, bench, Multi-Rack, and Body-Bags.... Everything anyone needs to achieve superior strength and fitness. 

Supplements

We haven't given much support to supplements up to this point. Truth is, a multitude of them are garbage. However, there are a few good ones, and a few good companies, that will provide you with anything you'll ever need. The best "supplements" are natural foods. It is difficult to get all the nutrients, calorie, protein, carb, and fat requirements and ratios from natural sources. That being said the only supplements we think are worthwhile for the average fitness enthusiast or weight trainer are:

  1. Premium Protein drinks, MRP (meal replacement powders), and Protein Bars. If your goals are to build muscle, or lose fat, these work well to up your protein intake, "right size" your meals for optimum metabolism, and have access to an acceptable alternative to a meal when regular food isn't available.
  2. Quality Multi-Vitamins.
  3. Creatine for strength and mass development. Creatine has a bad rap from many, but from the numerous studies, and personal experience, we think it is a worthwhile supplement for serious lifters. 

Dangers of  "Heavy Lifting, Squats, Deadlifts, and Olympic Lifts."

Many modern day trainers, and magazines will tell you flat-out not to do any of the things in this paragraph title. They say, "squats and deadlifts are bad for your back." Sure, an initial heavy attempt in one of these lifts may indeed be bad for the typical person's back. Simply because too many people have listened to this nonsense and already have very weak backs. A good program of squats, and deads will build tremendous leg, back and overall body strength. In fact, these two exercises alone have built more muscle than all the nautilus, hammer-strength, cybex, etc. machines combined ! 

Olympic lifts.... Ditto.... the same spaghetti-arm theorizers, say the same thing about these lifts. Yes... one would be wise to have the proper lifts shown to them. After that, wear yourself out... literally! These are total body movements and there are very few muscles that aren't utilized when performing Olympics lifts. In fact, Olympic Lifters are the most powerful athletes on the face of the Earth. Follow this link for more information of the advantages of Olympic lifts. This is precisely why Kettlebells are so indispensable. They bring the advantages of Olympic Lifting to ordinary people. With a Kettlebell and some instruction, a trainee can perform high repetition snatches and clean and jerks, and gain all the benefits of the standard Olympic Lifts with much less instruction, and a much greater degree of safety.

Heavy Weights and Low Reps. Heavy is always a relative term. What is heavy for one may be a warm-up weight for another. The point is that the current "experts" tell you to go for "the burn, "the pump," etc., etc. They reason that by not taxing yourself with heavy poundage's, you can perform more reps, which will burn more fat, pump the muscle allowing it to grow faster, on and on and on. And certainly, after your workout, and you're all pumped up, you feel like you've really done something.  Likewise, if you're using heavy weights and working yourself up-to-the-point-of muscle-failure. You'll know you had a real work-out! The key to any routine is intensity !

We won't get into the Heavy vs. Light argument here. Just know this. You will not gain tendon and ligament strength with light weights. You will not develop the neural pathways with light weights. You will not see significant strength gains with light weights. You will not have fewer injuries with light weights. You will not recruit assistance muscle groups with light weights. You will not achieve myofibrillar hypertrophy with light weights. You will not develop core and back strength with light weights. Etc., etc., etc., etc.

You may think that this advice is contrary to the philosophy of Kettlebell Training. Far from it. While the ballistic kettlebell drills are high repetition, the weights are still "heavy" in a relative sense. One arm snatches, or 2 hand, 2 kettlebell clean and jerks are heavy, but by utilizing "proper technique" high repetitions are achieved promoting total body conditioning.

For the full story on why we advocate using heavy weights, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of "Power To The People", by Pavel Tsatsouline. and "Dinosaur Training, Lost Secrets of Strength and Development," by Brooks Kubick

 

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