|3/22/2012 2:27:55 PM -
Reason #1 Why Your Internet Fitness "Guru" is Full of Shit
Finally, after three weeks, the conclusion to the series:
REASON #1 WHY YOUR INTERNET FITNESS "GURU" IS FULL OF SHIT
I think everyone here has had this experience. You start reading some guy's material online, and you eventually end up thinking he's someone you can identify with. He's giving you step-by-step instructions to get to the goals YOU want, and most of what he says is working for you. He's speaking your language, advocating a lifestyle and training style you're working toward, and everything is looking pretty good for several months.
Then something happens. One day, this guy wakes up and decides he's going to post something controversial. He says something like, "Athletes shouldn't squat anymore," or "Football players don't need to bench press," or "Phil Heath would have been Mr. Olympia years ago if he'd simply started drinking his own urine and subsisting solely on turnips."
Now, intellectually, there's nothing wrong with the above statements, but you have to realize the difference between anecdotal evidence and actual statistical sampling. Why are so many of the more enlightened coaches out there so enamored of what went on in the former Soviet Union 30-40 years ago? It's because actual scientists did actual research on actual athletes -- tens of thousands of them. The understood that we're all individuals, but they also found that there are certain universal truths with regard to the human body -- principles that hold true throughout the entire population. They derived these principles through decades of experimentation, observation, and practice -- not to mention shitloads of gold medals in Olympic and World Championship competition.
So what's wrong with these controversial claims in this context? Well, in the vast, vast majority of cases, these claims are totally anecdotal, with nothing to back them up. If you've been paying attention to this shit for a while, how many times, now, have you read something by some dude who says "Squatting is Dead" because a couple of guys at his gym had knee pain, did single leg squats for a year, and still made the all-conference team in high school football. Or some dude who's never put on a pair of pads in his life says football players shouldn't bench press because their shoulders take enough of a beating as it is -- then proceeds to tell us all about how three of his clients got college scholarships after not benching for two years.
I've never been big on citing research, or AMERICAN research...because I think the tests are set up fairly stupidly and the results get skewed (this bias has been discussed at length on this site), but I'm also always skeptical of trainers -- especially, again, guys with no connection to the sports they're talking about -- who purport to tell you something based on anecdotal evidence from like three guys.
Yeah, we know. Herschel Walker played in the NFL after doing push-ups in his living room his whole childhood. Would that work for you? Try it. I think if I'd attempted to go that route to secure a college scholarship, I'd be pumping gas somewhere or doing time in prison.
And if a guy counters this argument by telling you how much time he's spent "in the trenches," you need to do two things. First, go back in his archives and look at any advice he's given on the subject in the past. See how long ago he WAS advocating something, then see how much time has elapsed before he's telling the world NOT to do it. Next, if he's going to go the route of telling you how many great athletes he's trained, take a look at who he's produced. If his list has nobody you've ever heard of (and I'm talking about who he's PRODUCED, not who's been in and out of his gym for a couple of weeks), you should give some serious thought to who and what you're listening to.