January 29, 2011

'Everything You Know About Fitness is a Lie': "[W]e all live in a kind of Fitness Fog, a miasma of lies and misinformation that we mistake for common sense, and that makes most of our gym time a complete waste," Daniel Duane writes in Men's Journal. "[I]f you just stick to a basic strength-training program, you can expect a certain wonderment about what the hell you were doing all those years, why nobody told you it was this simple before, and why nobody else in the gym appears to have heard the good news." (Also on MetaFilter.)

posted by rcade to general at 08:08 AM - 10 comments

Count Norman Chad among those not burdened by falsehoods, as he freely admits to having no knowledge in this area to begin with.

posted by beaverboard at 09:57 AM on January 29, 2011

That's a hell of a read. Makes me feel pretty smart for the time I spend using good old fashioned barbells (and kinda silly for the other 75% of the time I spend at the gym.)

posted by tahoemoj at 12:43 PM on January 29, 2011

This article reeks of "Ignore all advice about fitness. Except mine." Why should this guy's anecdotal observations mean more to me than anyone else's? You could find any number of articles arguing the opposite point of view.

Maybe there isn't only one correct way to exercise...

posted by fabulon7 at 02:05 PM on January 29, 2011

To agree, at least somewhat, with fabulon7, this is a bit of an over-simplification.

The three lifts focused on do a good job on the majority of muscles, but clearly do not involve all the body. And, while cardio training alone will not get most people the results they desire, it is an important part of the overall picture for most. To call the use of the typical machines and elliptical trainers "a complete waste" is a bit much. That being said, I do agree that the vast majority of people I see at the gym have no idea what they're doing, and the instructors don't have a clue as well. The typical instructor I see will answer almost any question by talking up some class/additive/etc. that costs additional money. They walk right by people clearly using machines and/or weights incorrectly. Unless, of course, you're a hot chick, then they'll stop to offer you assistance even if you're not currently using any equipment...could be my club.

To me, whatever you enjoy the most will keep you working out the most, so if you like the machines, use them! The best advice from the article is that using free weights should be a vital part of any well rounded fitness regimen.

posted by dviking at 02:24 PM on January 29, 2011

To me, whatever you enjoy the most will keep you working out the most, so if you like the machines, use them!


And as far as ellipticals, they serve a purpose. This article ignores that person who is 40-80lbs (or more) overweight. These machines are a great way for someone to get their heart rate up without absolutely destroying their knees and ankles because they're carrying around ten years worth of sloth and poor diet choices. They are a great way to ease back into fitness without risking the type of injury that would discourage it forever.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:42 PM on January 29, 2011

When I graduated university I was woefully out of shape - 6'1" and a bad, soft and lumpy 245. I ended up losing 75 pounds by lifting weights and watching my diet. I would get shin splits when I ran, so I basically just gave that up and stuck with strength training and diet. Essentially, through a combination of luck and lack of imagination, I stumbled upon the same truth as this guy.

Want to get in shape? Lift weights. Basic exercises, always maxing out the last set. And don't eat sugar or simple carbohydrates. They're actually quite easy to avoid.

The easy fix is don't drink your calories. (Non-diet) pop has between 180 and 280 calories per can. If you, like I, drank 2-3 a day, you're drinking a Big Mac - without even the modicum of food value a Big Mac provides. Cut that out and then just simply stop eating french fries (no food value, pure fat and easily absorbed energy) and you've likely stopped ingesting an extra 5 - 10,000 calories a week. I'm 33, I drive a desk for a living and I still have that vein that goes across the front of your shoulder (like T-Mac!). I work out probably no more than 3 hours a week. I am not, nor have I ever been, anything close to an athlete.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:34 PM on January 29, 2011

I was close to an athlete once, but the subsequent restraining order filed against me wasn't really worth the effort.

The most interesting thing to me in that article was the stuff about how to avoid picking up injuries - all made perfect sense and certainly unburdens me of a lot of the excuses I tend to use when it comes to avoiding exercise. I'm 6'4"and I'm as heavy as I've ever been (at a little over 200 lbs). The last time I weighed this much was 5 and a half years ago when I did about 3 months of training for and then swam/cycled/ran an Olympic triathlon. The weight was rather differently distributed then than it is now.

Now, I'm a tall, skinny fat man. My middle is made of sponge pudding. My sport is golf and largely I adhere to the Ben Crane school of mocking the gym freaks that are trying to proliferate in the game, but last season, I probably only played 25% of the time without some kind of niggle in my back, or my knees, or my shoulders. I want to play a full season this year and at least give myself half a chance to perform well by being injury free and fit enough to play four rounds in a weekend without losing concentration towards the end because I'm tired.

To that end, I've spent most of the winter so far reluctantly trying to make myself go to the gym, but I keep picking up little tweaks here and there and using them as excuses not to go for a week or two. So I liked the article because it made me think that maybe I can stop picking up those injuries.

I also liked the line from Zorba the Greek: "Wife, kids, house... the whole catastrophe."

posted by JJ at 05:37 AM on January 30, 2011

This article reeks of "Ignore all advice about fitness. Except mine."

It also gives off a BE STRONG MAN LIKE CAVEMAN UGG vibe -- "Even in 2010, picking up heavy things, throwing heavy things up over our heads, and pulling heavy things remain the very best ways to replicate our foundational movement patterns" -- that reminds me of the paleo diet cranks who gnaw on freshly throttled ducks from the local pond.

At very least, he's carrying a fuckload of inverted snobbery, which I suppose he'd credit to his gym work.

posted by etagloh at 03:06 AM on January 31, 2011

I'm not saying that lifting heavy things and doing free weight exercise isn't good for you. Just that it's not THE ONLY SOLUTION.

Anytime someone tells me some specific exercise is THE ONLY THING I'LL EVER NEED, I don't believe them.

posted by fabulon7 at 08:25 AM on January 31, 2011

I read this article in Men's Journal a couple of months ago and thought it was a great fit for me. In recent years I have completed 3 marathons, not fast, but completed. I thought distance running was going to give me the body I had wanted. It did not. I was skinny-fat.

Granted, it's only been a short time since I've encorporated the concepts in this article, but I am already seeing results, and others have noticed as well. Moreover, it's a hell of a lot more fun to lift some weights than it is to spend all day saturday on a 18 mile training run, then recovery.

I am certain no workout program is the only one i'll ever need. however, this is a great change of pace. I am more satisfied with my body now than when my running mileage was much higher. I didn't even know what a deadlift was before but now it's my favorite exercise. Thanks for sharing this article.

posted by mayerkyl at 12:49 PM on January 31, 2011

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