Fitness Lies You Need to Stop Believing// Part 3 - Tucson Personal Training Group Fitness Blog

Personal Training in Tucson - The Protocol Strength & Conditioning, Llc


This month’s post is part three of our series where we discuss the biggest lies in the fitness world that absolutely need to die. You can follow the links below in case you missed the first two:

Lie #1: Lifting heavy weights makes women bulky, muscle-bound, and huge.

Lie #2: Skipping breakfast makes you fat.

In today’s post, we will tackle another one that is very commonly accepted:

Fitness Lie #3: Doing a wide variety of exercises in your strength training is superior a more focused approach.

Truth: Strength is a skill. And like any other skill, it must be practiced in order to attain proficiency.

Let’s say you wanted to learn a new language… we’ll take Spanish for example. Which of the two following methods do you suppose will yield the best results?

spanish-375830_1280Option 1: You order a Spanish language learning audio-book to listen to in the car, sign up for a “Spanish As A Second Language” class at your local community college, and join a meet-up with other people who are also trying to learn Spanish.

Option 2: Order a Spanish language learning audio-book to listen to in the car, sign up for a “Russian As A Second Language” class at your local community college, and join a meet-up with other people who are trying to learn French. The reason for all the different languages, you see, is that by getting better at languages in general, it will make you better at picking up Spanish.

Does option 2 sound silly? It should.

Yet when we venture into the world of fitness, option 2 is commonplace. It’s seen in many systems that use the term “muscle confusion” as a way to peddle random exercises done at a frantic pace to create the illusion of training… as though it was something new.

P90x and Orange Theory are examples of this. There have been times when I’ve asked a potential new client to tell me about their previous fitness programs, only to get a laundry list of random popular fitness trends done for a couple months at a time, before quitting and moving on to something else. Unfortunately, many of these people have very little to show as far as results go.

My social media feeds are always cluttered with the “great new program” someone is starting. I’m not interested hearing about the program you started… I’m interested in hearing about the one you finished.

I think part of the reason people do this is because jumping around from program to program creates the illusion of progress. Instead of spending time gaining proficiency in a particular modality, one can just hop to another thing that provides that feeling of being a novice again… accompanied by soreness. Ah yes, that wonderful ‘feeling’ like you did something the day before…

fig-1707104_1280In case you’ve never heard this said before: Soreness is not a particularly good indicator of how effective a workout is. Any coach/trainer can make a client sore. Even a world-class athlete can become sore using the following formula:

1. Perform unfamiliar movements (new exercises the body isn’t used to)

2. Perform unfamiliar rep ranges (if you normally do 10, do 50)

3. Introduce a much heavier load than previously used (risky and highly not recommended)

Congratulations! Sore athlete. Creating soreness is relatively easy, however the process of actually getting better at something is a bit more delicate. This is where a skilled instructor and an intelligently designed program become worth their weight in gold.

Here’s the reality: As Pavel says, “Strength is a skill.” The classic strength-building lifts are highly technical skills, and should be treated as such. One of the biggest mistakes a novice can make is doing too many exercises. They will also skip learning the fundamental lifts because they’re “too hard.” This creates no space for cultivating proficiency. Using random exercises to create the illusion of progress is just that: an illusion. If your training facility is not proficient in teaching you how to properly squat, press, and lift heavy stuff from the floor, find a new facility.

After Team Protocol began doing very well in powerlifting competitions, we had some local media asking for interviews. I always declined. Part of this, of course, is my introverted nature. Another part is that my answers would be so boring that it probably wouldn’t make for a very good news story. What would I say?

“Yeah… well… um… we practiced these things over and over again for many years and got really good at them. That’s pretty much it.”

I’ve even had fellow fitness professionals look at how simple our programming is and ask how we manage to keep clients for as long as we do. “Don’t they get bored?” I have two responses: First, people who get stronger and better year-after-year don’t get bored with their training. Second, you are WAY over-estimating how much concern a vast majority of your clients put into your programs. People’s minds are pre-occupied with far more important things than what kind of squat variation they will be doing in their exercise class. Most folks have so many other things on their minds that it’s not even a blip on the radar. All they know is that they are looking better, feeling better, and getting results. That’s what counts.

There’s another critical component to this focused approach: Since practice of certain key movements is essential to attaining proficiency, we must determine and solidify what these ‘key movements’ are. The way I look at this is in the form of a question I like to ask at my instructor workshops:

If you only had 20 minutes to train, three days per week, what would you do?

There really isn’t a wrong answer here… some are just more correct than others (ha ha). I’d be willing to bet that if all serious gym rats were only allowed to use their gym for 20 minutes per day, three days per week, a lot of goofy stuff would probably go away. A dedicated trainee probably wouldn’t foam roll for 15 minutes if the whole workout had to be 20.

dumbbells-1634750_1280This is one of the main principles The Protocol was founded on: How can we cut out the fluff and give people the biggest bang for their fitness buck? It’s part of the reason the studio looks the way it does. Dedicating unnecessary square footage to a machine that only works one muscle group just isn’t our style. It’s also the reason why we are such big fans of the kettlebell. If there is a tool out there that can cover as many sensibilities (strength, mobility, work capacity, etc.) as the kettlebell, by all means, please tell me about it.

If your “random acts of exercise” program has left your muscles confused, but not very stimulated, I challenge you to re-think your program. In the beginning of the year, many people tend to gravitate towards these silly programs only to find themselves frustrated shortly after joining. If this is the year you decide to do something different, please reach out to us.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman – Senior SMK Instructor

Jerry is the owner and founder of The Protocol Strength & Conditioning, a fitness facility and coaching program specializing in teaching people how to move better and become stronger. With over a decade of experience, Jerry has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, then distilling those answers into practical programs that produce great results. He provides workshops, clinics, and kettlebell certifications all over the world through the UK-based company, Strength Matters, and writes “The Healthy Addiction” blog which has thousands of readers world-wide. For more information, please visit

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