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Fitness Lies You Need to Stop Believing// Part 4 - Tucson Personal Training Group Fitness Blog

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Fitness Lies You Need to Stop Believing// Part 4 - Tucson Personal Training Group Fitness Blog


Welcome to part 4 in our series of fitness lies you need to stop believing (click here if you’d like to read the priors). In previous posts, we’ve discussed lies that usually come from those outside of fitness. In other words, for those who are either in the industry or are advanced gym-goers, these fallacies can easily be spotted. This month, however, we’re going to look at a fitness lie that comes from within. This may be a tough pill to swallow for some, and most of us have been guilty of this at some point in our training. Proceed with caution…

Fitness Lie #4: “The elite athlete does it, so that’s what I do.”
Truth: Following an outlier generally only works if you’re an outlier.

Let’s face it, we love anomalies. No matter what the situation or circumstance, we are fascinated by outliers. We especially see this in sports and athletics. Gyms all over the world have posters of Arnold hanging on the wall… See! I didn’t even have to say his last name, you know which Arnold we’re talking about. Lance Armstrong, regardless of what you think of him, has had a test probe sticking out of him ever since he won his first Tour De France — scientists and researchers have been trying to figure out what makes that guy tick. We read interviews of the top CrossFit Games athletes to try to find out their secrets to success…

“What does a typical day look like for you?”
“What supplements are you taking?”
“What do you eat?”
“How often/how long do you train?”
“Are you on steroids?”

We, as ordinary folks, are completely fascinated with these human anomalies.

Sometimes we even use these as examples to defend a particular fitness or diet dogma we believe in. A vegan may say something like, “Look at this vegan bodybuilder. He eats zero animal protein and look at all that muscle!” The paleo guy will find the one high-level endurance athlete he read about online that eats almost no carbs, runs ultra-marathons with ease, and use him as a way of defending this type of eating as a solution for everyone.

Are you starting to see the problem here? We are taking the example of the outlier and trying to apply it to the rest of the human population… hoping to see similar results.

The trouble here is that after we’re done with all that reading and debating on the internet, we need to put on our workout clothes and go train.

This is where reality sets in.

This is where that vegan diet just doesn’t seem to afford us the same opportunity to grow and build muscle like a typical omnivore, and those long runs seem to feel a little extra tough on that super low carb diet.

The moral to the story is that following an outlier only works if you’re an outlier.

What about the rest of us?

This ‘everyone else’ is a community that is being terribly underserved. Most of us fall outside the category of ‘elite athlete’. ‘Elite’ basically means ‘the absolute best of’ and the idea that we’re all in this group suffers from the law of non-contradiction: If we are all ‘elite’, then none of us are. Some programs even suggest that they are forging elite fitness, but if that were true, how come there are so many elite athletes that do other fitness programs and get superior results?

Since this genre of training the average Joe is terribly unsexy, it doesn’t make it to a lot of mainstream outlets. However, in the real world most of you reading this are either a lot like me; a coach that works with pretty average people, or you’re one of those average people that we work with. In our Strength Matters community, we’ve decided to call ourselves ‘The Everyday Athlete.’

I’ve dedicated my entire professional career to exploring what it REALLY takes to progress ‘The Everyday Athlete’ to become the best version of themselves they can possibly be, so this message really resonates with my values and principles. Those silly infomercial-type programs featuring magazine-cover bodies that get marketed to the masses are the fitness industry’s version of a get-rich-quick scheme. SPOILER ALERT: Those don’t work either.

Although things can be gleaned from studying what the best do, designing programs to advance ‘The Everyday Athlete’ can be a little more delicate. So how do we do it?

I often refer back to the sign on my front door that says, “Mobility. Strength. Results.”

I’ve always felt that those three things are listed in order of importance. High-quality pain-free mobility should always come first. Movement is the closest thing we have to the fountain of youth. Regaining, mastering, and maintaining the essential human movements is critical to anyone who is getting out of their office chair for the first time in a long while. This critical first step is often overlooked by those chasing results as their first priority, and this is a big mistake. It never ceases to amaze me how poorly some people move… even those who participate in regular exercise.

A great start is to have a Functional Movement Screen so you can see where your limitations, asymmetries, and injury risks are. We have a licensed Physical Therapist on staff that is certified to perform this screen. It’s seven moves, three impingement tests, takes less than 30 minutes, and has a minimal cost (especially if you factor in the cost of rehabbing an injury). If you think going to a professional for an honest assessment is a waste of time (and you read this blog?), here is one simple thing you can do without leaving your living room:

High Plank for 2 minutes – Prof. Stu McGill says that if you can’t hold a top-of-pushup position plank for two minutes, you are either overweight or your training is dismal. A neutral spine should be maintained, and much more should be felt in the abs than in the back. Here is our PT Marie demonstrating what this should look like…

If this old bird with a bad shoulder can hold this position for WAY over 2 minutes, so should you. Is it a perfect catch-all test? No, but it is a good initial indicator that you are on the right path.

Next, focus on getting as strong as humanly possible. People complain about being too fat, too skinny, etc. No one has ever complained about being too strong.

The pecking order of the three things on my door is critical. Fitness ‘results’ come as a by-product of moving better and becoming stronger… not the other way around. Please don’t try to put ‘results’ ahead of fixing what is really wrong. The ‘results’ are probably not what you’re hoping they will be.

I’m not saying that one cannot learn things from elite athletes. Many of our training principles have come from deconstructing elite performers. What I am saying is that the snippets we hear about these people come from a place of, “What can we put here to generate clicks?” For example, during the 2008 Summer Olympics, all day at my gym I had to hear about the 10,000 calorie-per-day diet Michael Phelps was on during the peak of his training. Clients, of course, were misconstruing this data and trying to make it conform to their idea that they can eat whatever they want as long as their training was hard enough. Our claim of, “You cannot out-exercise a bad diet” was just wrong, you see… just look at Michael Phelps! Well, I guess that’s true… sort of. Michael Phelps ate 10,000 calories then went and swam thousands of laps at an Olympian’s pace. When we say ‘you’, we don’t mean the proverbial ‘you’. We’re not talking about Michael Phelps, we’re talking about YOU, tubby! YOUR out-of-shape self cannot exercise intensely enough to eat like that.

In the upcoming year, as our Strength Matters community shifts to the mindset of ‘Training The Everyday Athlete’, please keep an eye out for more information that follows this train of thought.

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 theprotocolsc.com

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