Wasted Gains: 3 Reasons Your Workout Program Sucks

f it’s not trending on Twitter yet, it will be.

It’s January which means everyone is on the hunt for the spring break body. Miami or bust, am I right?

While I applaud the enthusiasm, we need to hash out a few common (mis)beliefs to help you avoid the typical pitfalls which ensnare many in the new year.

1. Soreness Determines Your Perception of Success

Perception to most is self-deception.

Everyone wants to proudly wear their red badge of courage on their chest (or on social media as the case may be). However, we must keep in mind that social media exists in a vacuum. It is a microcosm of arbitrary information, generic quotes, and reductionist thinking. Therefore, we must be very careful in how it shapes our mindset and undermines our actions.

If your Instagram is full of #LIVESORE hashtags and motivational videos dubbed over standard film scores, then maybe it’s time to consider what’s actually driving the process…

Related: Train Like An Athlete, Look Like A Bodybuilder

Would your training still feel successful if you didn’t cripple yourself with soreness after every lift? Do you enjoy training or are you merely riding the coattails of an emotionally charged roller coaster being directed by classical overtures and melodramatic narrators?

“When you train and train hard, you acutely damage a lot of systems in the human body. This isn’t optional. If you are living sore, you are essentially in a chronic state of damage, maybe without recovery or adaptation.

But, most people don’t really care about these things. They want to feel something, anything. They want to connect with the world and other humans around them. They want to fly flags to distinguish themselves from the masses. They want to bond over mutual struggle and pain.” – Dr. Ben House

Takeaway: Many believe soreness is an indicator of hypertrophic adaptation (via mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic byproducts) but that isn’t always the case. If you can’t walk for a week after your leg day, is your mindset really sustainable?

I can’t answer these questions for you but I think it’s important for one to consider the driving force behind their actions. If you want to maintain longevity in any endeavor, it must enhance your life, not detract from it. Choose your motivation wisely.

2. Taking Advice From Professional Athletes/Fitness Models

If you’ve been on social media over the last few weeks then you’re probably aware of all the hype surrounding Tom Brady’s TB12 method along with James Harrison’s departure from the Steelers. If you aren’t familiar with Harrison’s social media shattering workouts, here’s a quick snapshot:

On the contrary, Mr. Brady tends to shy away from the heavy lifting and believes in “no load strength training” according to his new book The TB12 Method. According to Brady, “Muscles need to be pliable and soft. Dense, stiff muscles are easily injured and lack the ability to absorb and disperse stress from impact” (e.g. those incurred during a tackle).

Interestingly enough, Harrison was just dropped by the Steelers in the 16th week of the NFL season and picked up by the Patriots. Both players are eclipsing 40 years of age but their methodology is drastically different – herein lies the problem.

For years, professional athletes have long been heralded as the poster children for alternative ideas, unproven supplements, and outlandish claims. However, appealing to authority is never a legitimate source of evidence. Logical fallacies make poor arguments but in the world of fitness, they remain largely unnoticed.

Cognitive Bias – “a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment.”

However, recently I saw an interesting conversation on Facebook surrounding this topic and noted a particular comment relevant to our discussion. An individual expressed their opinion regarding Mr. Harrison’s workout and recovery methodologies (many of which are controversial):

“He can do what he wants. Just like Marshawn Lynch is free to eat skittles until his heart’s content and seemingly half of the NBA in 2017 is free to go vegan. None of that changes the fact that athletes at that level are outliers in the first place and extrapolating whatever they’re doing directly to the general population is a silly endeavor.”

Takeaway: Tom Brady and James Harrison are genetically elite. You will likely never have 5 super bowl rings, no matter how many games you quarterback from the couch with the remote in your hand.

Find what works for you but don’t be afraid to question popular claims made by those in the spotlight. Odds are they can’t explain the “why” behind the “what” and as such, you need to dig deeper to verify the legitimacy.


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