A revolutionary new training system?
One thing I used to do a lot, and still do sometimes, is Google search a particular fitness topic I happen to be interested in at the time.
For example I used to be overly concerned with improving my bench press, so I would type phrases like “how to improve your bench press” and “best bench press training program” and see what would come out.
As a result I’ve read a lot of articles, forums, blogs, magazine opinion pieces about training particularly in the strength and muscle development side of things which I’m most interested in.
What has struck me has been the sheer amount of training ‘protocols’ and systems out there. It seems like everyone has got the ‘secret’ or a ‘revolutionary’ approach to getting results.
Sometimes the claims are more modest, but the principle is the same: follow my way of training because I have found a way of doing it better.
One extreme example of this is the conveyor belt of ‘celebrity’ fitness videos and techniques that to me look exactly the same apart from the actual celebrity involved.
How are these people reinventing the wheel so often? Is there such a thing as a ‘new’ and better way of training?
To answer this, you have to consider two questions.
- How complicated is fitness? Complex enough to warrant hundreds of different ways to do it?
- Is the fitness industry about profits and making money?
Let’s take point one. In my opinion the most important thing to remember when choosing a training program or training in general is that fitness is not that complicated.
Sure, when you get to elite levels and you’re trying to wring the last ounce of potential from a highly tuned athlete and time it so they peak at the right times a lot of science and judgement is involved.
But for the rest of us? There’s not that many variations of press-up you can learn, or ways in which to train your back. There are pretty tried and tested methods of increasing your speed endurance for running to get better times. If you are in a calorie deficit and are exercising often you will lose weight.
To be honest to achieve a decent base level of fitness doesn’t require that much dedication for most people: for instance if your goal is to squat one and a half times your bodyweight or run a 10km in under 50 minutes you can get there pretty easily just by following a linear progression: find a weight or speed that is challenging and consistently practice until it becomes easy, then increase.
And to be even more honest even if you’re willing to push it and yourself further it doesn’t get that much more complicated: with weights you start implementing training cycles and principles like drop sets, with things like running you start structuring your training into long runs and specific sessions involving hill work, speed endurance etc.
Fitness training: there is nothing revolutionary about it. There’s no hocus-pocus to it.
Male or female if your goal is to be lean, strong and fit then there’s no better way than good old-fashioned exercises like the squat and the deadlift mixed in with some high and low intensity cardio.
Just learn the form, work hard, and do the time.
And don’t expect miracles.
Which brings us neatly onto point 2. Are these proclaimer’s of ‘revolutionary’ training systems in it to make money?
It’s obviously a rhetorical question, but it is the single most important reason so many training systems and misaligned beliefs exist.
Take for example the now widely-accepted yet erroneous belief that women will get bulky from weight training. It’s the guaranteed first response whenever I offer weight training as an essential part of the plan to get lean or lose weight to a woman- “won’t I get bulky?”
What provides more opportunities for more products and more unnecessary ‘specialism’ than splitting men and women down the middle and selling two different sets of training protocols?
‘Hardcore’ super circuits for men and pink dumbbells for women.
What they don’t want you to know is that muscle growth is extremely difficult for women, to the point where being bulky due to oversized muscles is basically impossible, unless you want to start injecting yourself everyday with hormones.
It’s hard enough for a man and his 20 times greater testosterone level to put on lbs of muscle for women to be worrying about it.
As I’ve said before, if you are training naturally then getting ‘too big’ is never going to be problem.
You wish it were the case.
Bottom line is that revolutionary or ‘amazing results fast’ training programs simply don’t exist.
There are different ways to train, dependant on your goals. But it’s all been tried, tested and done before. Think about the physiques of Greek statues from over 2000 years ago. You think the guys those statues were modelled on had Zumba or Boxercise to get physiques like that?
Did they worry about supplementing enough creatine in their diet and the need to keep BCAAs present in their system 24/7 to avoid catabolism?
Or did they just pick-up heavy shit everyday and go running?
If there was really a secret, wouldn’t we already have found it by now?
If you’ve been brainwashed by mainstream fitness marketing and are still looking for that ‘perfect’ program then I have a revolutionary concept for you.
Pick a goal. Forget about turning into an Adonis in 8 weeks and just enjoy the feeling of progress and improvement. Learn how to train with compound movements and stick to a program.