Fitness world works in few different ways but the two most prominent are that either we get too caught up in trends and always look for the next thing to do to keep us excited. Or that we always stick to the same things “because that’s what we’ve always done.” Please let me elaborate:
The Trend – Crowd
Every few years (or months or weeks, depending on who you follow) there’s a new cool fitness trend that sweeps the nation. And one thing they all have in common is the promise to give you better body, health and fitness than you ever thought possible.
You’ve got some trends that make the dark medieval times seem like a pleasant experience to have lived through. There’s a new celebrity diet book out every second day it seems. Just because Gwyneth Paltrow stays “trim” doesn’t mean that her approach is going to work for anyone else who’s doesn’t have the access to a limitless black Amex and other privileges that come with being rich and famous.
Relying on celebrities for health advice makes as much sense as wearing a steel capped thongs (flip-flop, for those overseas) on a construction site. Let’s ignore what the trainers, clinicians, doctors, researchers and other professionals are saying so we can jump on the next Shake Weight bandwagon.
But where there is money to be made, there are always few twisted souls ready to take the advantage of people who are struggling with their health. Or maybe the Shake Weight creators genuinely think that they can help.
Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater…
It’s not all negative though. Some of these past trends are worth keeping in your training arsenal, kettlebells and Indian Clubs come to mind first. Bad has been said about Crossfit (btw, I used to do it) but at least it has gotten more people away from the machine training and on to the floor. And as much as I don’t agree with the religiousness of the Paleo diet (btw, I used to follow it), the shift from processed foods to more vegetables and wholefoods has been great.
So, I prefer to look at things glass half full kind of way to keep my sanity. Or what’s still left of it.
When a new trend comes in tomorrow, and it is bound to happen, ask yourself a question before buying the ticket and taking the ride: Will this new trend improve my training, fitness and health and will it make me better? Or will it take me away from what is important? Will it add more to your already full and well balanced plate?
It is unlikely that any new trend is about to emerge that justifies throwing out majority of what you are currently doing. It’s more likely that a new trend can change 5% of what you do. At most. Even if it’s just to keep you excited about training. I can justify that as long as it does not do any harm.
I personally like a routine. I’ve learned to let other people jump in first and if that new thing is still around after a while I’ll give it ago. Provided it looks somewhat sane and doesn’t have anything to do with the Shake Weight. Or Gwyneth Paltrow.
The Always, Never, Forever – Crowd
On the opposite side of trends is the “I’ve always done this” mentality. Some folks are stuck into doing the same thing that they’ve done for years or decades because back in the day it was the best thing to do. Whether it’s because of old or biased research, or according to someone’s dad’s tanned bodybuilder friend who used to be jacked out of his mind in the mid 80’s.
Here, trainers and trainees are committing the same mistake as the trend followers do, except on the other side of the spectrum. Still stuck on doing sit ups or thinking that the only way to get anywhere with fitness is to back squat ass to grass, deadlift ten wheels or bench the neighbor’s four wheeled, self driving lawnmower.
Yes, those lifts have their place. But unless you compete in the big three, I don’t see the point of obsessing over them. Except if the big three are what get you excited about training, that’s another story. But that’s you and you shouldn’t push your agenda to others as the holy solution to everything. No one likes a preacher with a doom and gloom monologue.
The Big Picture
Often we forget to look at the big picture of “what am I training for?”. If you are training for tomorrow instead for a competition, there’s other and safer ways to get the same benefits of what you are after.
Charlie Weingroff wrote an excellent article about the lower system loads, where he explains how it’s possible to create the same amount of force using lighter loads. If you want to geek out a bit, I recommend you click on the link above. He’s way smart. But the best thing about the article is that Charlie is a powerlifter at heart, yet he’s not all about the big three.
If you can get the same benefits by doing double kettlebell front squats, trapbar deadlift, swings, single leg training and other things that don’t take as much toll on your body, why wouldn’t you do so? If you can get to the same destination in same time, while using a safer road, why the hell wouldn’t you take it? The end goal of training should be about amplifying other positive aspect of life.
If you run but hate running and don’t plan on competing in it, why do it? Why put your body through the beating that joints take over the period of a long-term running career? Why not use the bike, ropes, prowler to get the same benefits with less risk?
If you hate fishing why would you get up at 3am to sit in a boat when you afford to buy the salmon from the supermarket? It’s about getting to the end goal the easiest possible way.
And then, finally, there was The Conclusion
Throughout your training life keep asking “why I do what I do?”. Know when to stay with the things that work but also know when to evolve. That way you are always doing what is the best for your body and your goals. Listen to the people who know what they are talking about but also know to differentiate their goals from your own. Don’t do what I used to do.