Critical Thinking


The Key Word in 'Body Acceptance' is Acceptance

Imagine a fitness model writes an article condemning the sexualization and commercialization of fitness. Along with the article, she posts a picture of herself in a sexy bikini, posing for the camera. Would you cheer? Would you encourage? Many people would. Would you see the irony and hypocrisy, instead? How many other people would agree?

In fact, this kind of thing happens all the time. Why would someone proudly display themselves in a sexual manner along with a message condemning the sexualization of fitness? Why would that person then preach about body acceptance? Are they making some obscure coded message that only the most intelligent can decipher? The truth is, the picture is there to surprise you. To invoke a response. To make you share the article. It is marketing, similar to a flashy label on an otherwise mundane food item. And yes, articles complaining about the commercialization of fitness are common. I've written a few myself.

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Happy Thoughts and A Barbell

I don't know if you've noticed, but in strength training, there seems to be two opposite groups along the emotional barometer.

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Is Calling Dr. Oz a Quack an Ad Hominem Attack?

I'd like to speak, once again, about the confusion around the term "ad hominem." Ad hominem arguments take the form, in a simple sense, "you are wrong because you're a jerk."

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Bullshit, Pseudoscience, Or Bad Science: Which is It?

What am I doing? Why do I keep returning to this theme of bullshit? As I begin to write this post, that is what I ask myself. And I find that I have an answer. We all have a great need to categorize. To recognize, and to define. Why are conspiracy theories so popular? They simplify. They categorize the unknowable; what may seem like chaos. They bring an illusion of order. So, the question I ask is whether there is order to bullshit, pseudoscience, fraud, lying, bad science, or just plain stupidity. Can we draw a line between them?

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Fitness Bullshit and Philosophy: A Fool-Proof Recipe!

I recently began saying, or repeating, as is my fashion, that "fitness philosophers" do not often seem to care too much about what is good, only what sounds good. That is a bold, and probably insulting, statement, to some of my friends who are caught up in the world of philosophy, I know. Then, I began reading a book about bullshit. It is not the first book I've perused on the subject of bullshit, and it probably won't be the last. I'll bet that not many people realize that there is serious thought, some of it quite philosophical, about bullshit in the academic world.

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Bring Your Strength to the Highest Levels Without Actually Pushing Your Limits

So, you want to get real strong, do you? Then, why in the world are you here on this page? If you are attracted to the idea of achieving great physical strength without actually exploring the limits of your physical strength, then you are not attracted to strength training! You see, the title is nonsense. Why did I choose it? Because it mirrors the titles, or the themes, of the majority of articles about strength training on the web.

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What if the Fitness Industry Really Was Scientific?

By Eric Troy

I'm sitting here after typing out the title, wondering if I should hit the backspace key until it disappears. I've just bit off quite a piece of jerky. After all, you could write an article about "what if scientists really were scientific." Even at the best of times, scientists don't completely live up to their ideals. But scientists, at least, do science rather than just wave a banner. The fitness industry reminds me, sometimes, of Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own." When I see how personal so many fitness scientists take things, I want to incredulously cry "There's no CRYING in science!"

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Train Smart; Not Hard - Does Intelligence Mean Less Effort is Required?

Train Smart; Not Hard. This is one of those aphorisms I'm not sure about. It sounds good, doesn't it? On one hand, I've said it myself in regards to strength training. When I said it, I had a fairly specific idea of what I meant. I meant to say that you should ignore the macho caveman bullshit that is such a part of messages about strength training, where people say things like "Just shut up and lift heavy. Work hard. Beast mode!" I meant that you should THINK, PLAN, ASSESS, and, you know, just generally behave like you have something between your ears. Don't live up to the meathead view of strength training. It really does take some smarts to get very, very strong.

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Food Babe, Experience Life Mag, and Their Ilk: Do We Have to Join Em To Beat Em?

In one of the threads on Facebook posted about the Food Babe and Experience Life Mag controversy, where people were complaining about the BS, someone started saying that, basically, the people commenting were all wasting their time complaining and that we need to pay more attention to how she, and others like her, frame their messages in order to reach and influence so many people.

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What Can the Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) Tell Us About Strength Training?

Critical thinking, like "evidence based training" is all the rage these days. That's great, if it was anything more than a couple of buzz-words. However, it seems that people in the fitness industry want to talk about good thinking, rather than do it. It's hard work. It's never-ending. It's kind of like deadlifts. There are those who do them, and there are those who shout "Booyah, arrrgh, deadlifts, BEASTMODE! Hardcore!" One of my main reasons for not believing that critical thinking is really something the fitness industry, at large, cares about, is that too many of its members do it selectively. In other words, they think about things they have a negative reaction to, and criticize those things, but when something happens to coincide with their general views, the thinking stops, even if it doesn't represent a credible "scientific" stance. One of these instances is anecdotal evidence, and "this works for me" prescriptions given by individual trainees, or better yet, celebrities who strength train or stay fit for movies, or what have you.

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Inappropriate Expertise and Name-Dropping in the Fitness Industry

Is Your Expert Really an Expert?

I've been making a lot of statements about expertise and experts lately. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, critical thinking and skepticism has become as popular as frozen Margaritas in Mexican restaurants, and just as bland and weak. Usually, these excited new thinkers invoke science. One of the secrets, it seems, to being scientific, is to go on and on about how you should be wary of experts and go around refuting them. Often, we should perhaps go further and question how much evidence we have that our expert is actually an expert! Most strength training and fitness experts, especially on the internet, are anything but. They have done what many do: Fake it until you make it.

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Fitness Insider Groups and the Ultimate Attribution Error

You can read the article or listen to the video talk below, which has more material in it, with additional commentary.

The fitness industry is made up of in-groups and out-groups. Of course, whatever group you are in, is the in-group as far as you are concerned. Some groups have more social power than others, however, and are able to draw more members. So we have something like minorities in the fitness world. William Graham Summer, an American sociologist and a social-Darwinist, is said to have coined the terms in-group and out-group, in his 1906 book Folkways. I use these terms differently than the nasty way in which he used them.

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