Fallacies


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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Is Your Expert Really an Expert? The Problem of Inappropriate Expertise and Name-Dropping in the Fitness Industry

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.

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If you Don't Train to Failure, You'll Never Need a Spotter

Oh my, so very, very, wrong. And yet it is a commonly stated idea. If you never need a spotter then it is fair to say you never truly train for strength. Strength training involves lifting very heavy weights and sometimes weights that exceed those you've lifted before. This isn't rocket surgery. You want to get strong you have to venture into uncharted territory and you can never be sure.

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You Too Can Lift A Car!

Or not. One of the most prevailing habits in this industry is to take isolated pieces of information and run with them, making sweeping conclusions with little to no consideration of other factors. Information is nothing in and of itself. It's what you do with it, or, how you apply it in regards to the BIG PICTURE. Probably one of the biggest drawbacks of the information age is unlimited information with limited background. Limited background makes facts interchangeable with knowledge. I discussed this often misunderstood difference between knowledge and facts in my post: Facts, Knowledge, and Reasoning Skills

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The Deadlift is not a Deadlift and Other Infectious Aphorisms

Popular strength coaches as well as bodybuilding coaches who talk about strength training are always inventing little aphorisms and catch phrases designed to get across some central philosophy or concept inherent to their way of viewing training for strength. Problem is with catch slogans and aphorisms, is that they are designed to sell a concept rather than to teach a concept. An aphorism is only as good as the qualifications you give it when you explain its underlying rationale. With most of these statements, it is the style that sells them, more than the content. One of our members called this type of thing a fallacy by slogan and this is an apt way to put it. A good aphorism is catchy like an infectious rash: Everybody spreads it around and it does more harm than good.

Continue Reading » The Deadlift is not a Deadlift and Other Infectious Aphorisms



Deadlifts and Muscle Mass: Myths that Sell

Somebody recently implied that I try to sell pure strength training to everybody. The idea being, I suppose, that I want to convince everybody to engage in maximum strength training and think it is "bad" if they don't, or, by extension, fail to follow my advice. Well, those who have read my blog extensively, of course, know better, since the "selling of strength" training is something I adamantly oppose and often complain about.

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Organic Versus GMO Soy, Isoflavones, Red Herrings and Junk Science

I wanted to make a quick post about the review, The Role Of Soy In Vegetarian Diets. After reading this, what I want everyone to notice is just WHAT the concerns about soy are centered on and what they are not. The concerns about soy have been centered on its isoflavone content as you can read about in the article. Mercola and many others seem to want to "shift" the debate to organic versus non-organic soy crops. This is called a "red herring" and is a signal that these writers want to deflect our attention. It's misdirection.

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Lifting and Carrying Stuff: It's Not Just About Your Legs and Arms

Bench press, bench press, bench press. I'm amazed at how many bench press warriors I come across. No, I'm not talking about the guys who just love to bench press and like to see those numbers go up, but they try to keep their training balanced. I'm talking about people who only train upper body and actually consider bench press (and curls) to be a good measure of "strength".

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All Opinions are Equally Valid: The Myth of Balance in Critical Thinking

There is a myth out there in webernet land: You must be balanced and consider all opinions and arguments. You must weigh them all equally. If you don't you are not thinking "critically".

I deal with this all the time. "Is this program any good?," I am asked. "No," I say, "It's crap."

"Why?" They say. "Why don't you ask me why can't dogs fly?" I reply.

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Inventing the Couch Potato: An Exercise Myth That Needs to Go Away

I've talked about the athlete fallacy many times. This fallacy is related to exercise guilt and the feeling that if you are not "going all the way" you are doing something wrong, wasting your time, may as well not bother, etc. and so on.

Also related to this idea, intrinsic to it really, is the idea that you must regularly go to the gym and engage in an exercise program or training plan in order to derive any health benefits from exercise. So, in other words, it takes a few weeks to a month to see any true benefit because that benefit is always from the cumulative results of regular exercise.

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Natural and Processed Food, Nutritionism and Pollanisms

There has been a lot of support for Michal Pollan's books for the last few years (he was on Colbert ) and his books "In Defense of Food" as well as his earlier book "The Omnivore's Dilemma" are both very popular. I even saw Mike Boyle singing the praises of Pollan while imagining he knew more about nutrition than "nutritionists" by virtue of having read Pollan's books. Even though, strictly speaking, Pollan is not a nutritionist but a journalist. But hey, I've also seen Mike Boyle and others sing the praises of Mercola, so go figure. I would hesitate to get my nutrition information from a strength coach or a journalist. That is not to say that I would not take their advice, but only that I would hesitate to consider that advice as seriously as I would consider the advice of someone who is a nutrition specialist.

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Guilt and Exercise Don't Mix

I just read a blog post in which someone talked about a 30 day gym goal. I won't link to it or embarrass the person I'll just talk about the very typical thought process that was at work.

Basically this person "guilted" himself into going to the gym. He didn't express any compulsion to be active or to exercise at all. He simply felt that he "had better make the gym a habit" because "they" say it is important.

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