Training


Instinct Has Nothing To Do With Strength Training

Have you ever heard that you should train by instinct? What about eating by instinct? What does it mean to use your instincts in the gym? How can this help you lift a heavier weight or build muscle? Do some people have access to some kind of innate knowledge or exercise behavior that you are somehow lacking?

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Could Milo Of Croton Really Have Trained With the Bull?

I am going to start this article off with a confession. Despite the fitness and strength training industry's ever-enduring fascination with the legend of Milo and his bull, I absolutely despise this story! The reason I despise it is that it is used by so many professionals to explain how progressive exercise, and in particular, progressive overload in strength training works, yet presents a gross exaggeration of the long-term use of progressive resistance.

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Most Strength Trainees Need More Volume and Weight, Not Deloads

There seems to be a whole new crop of strength training writers which are getting rabid followers by telling them what they want to hear. What do they want to hear? How they can get strong without hard work. In fact, it seems anything that is about getting strong but NOT about actual training is the most popular content.

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You Do Not Have to Be Accomplished To Be Fit

You do not have to "get really good at something" to enjoy the type of fitness that the fitness industry should generally be promoting, general health-related fitness. Yet, the fitness industry continues to conflate athletic fitness and 'training' with general health-related fitness. It is clear that there is a halo effect associated with athletic training and fitness, one that is often not deserved.

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Why Looking for Your Weakness In Strength Training Will Make you Miserable

For years now I have been saying something that flies in the face of conventional strength training and even fitness advice. Many say that in order to get stronger, you must identify your weaknesses and fix them. I say the opposite. I say you must identify your strengths, and play to them.

Many coaches believe something managers have been told for years, that they must identify and fix weaknesses in order for a trainee or an employee to be effective.

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Ten Big Lies Personal Trainers Tell Their Clients

Everybody has their own idea about what are the biggest "untruths" that the personal fitness industry tells. Most lists mention spot reduction, a pound of muscle burns 30 calories a day, you can turn fat into muscle, etc. All myths, for sure. And I am sure there are trainers out there who don't mind crossing their fingers behind their backs and lying about those things, if it suits their figures. It may not be very original, but I have another such list in mind. So here are my top 10 picks, which I have expanded from an original five:



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The Big Bang Theory Of Fitness

If you've ever watched the show Big Bang Theory you might know that it is an entertaining and funny show, but you may not realize that some of the ways in which science and scientists are characterized on the show are not very accurate. One of the main comedic elements of the show is between the character of Sheldon, a socially inept theoretical physicist, and Howard, an engineer. Sheldon arrogantly dismisses engineering as nothing more than the tinkering of those who aren't intelligent enough to do real science. Basically, to him, physicists do the work and engineers are not much more than glorified grease monkeys. Now, it is possible that many physicists feel this way but it shows a basic mistake in how the scientific process is perceived. So, for students of strength training or human performance, this is actually a good illustration of a common misconception about science, and it can serve to illustrate some of the misunderstandings of how science and scientific evidence can be used to inform training for increased human performance.

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Principles are Not Tools - More on Progressive Overload

In my article Progressive Overload and Its Application to Strength Training, I stated that the term progressive overload gets thrown around so much in fitness that it loses all meaning. I said that it is too vague and misconstrued. I complained that the goal of progressive overload is often substituted for the actual performance goal, as if these things are one and the same. In many fitness domains, they may be, but in strength training, they are usually not. Progressive overload is a principle. While progressively overloading your body is a training tool, principles themselves are not tools. This probably seems like a contradiction.

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Comparing And Contrasting Fitness Exercises

Do you remember having to "compare and contrast" in school? It was an important writing and thinking exercise. Comparing and contrasting is also one of the main focuses of the fitness industry.

Often, when people are trying to sell us their ideas about a superior exercise or program, they pretend to be comparing and contrasting, but they are actually almost exclusively contrasting. Focusing on one or two small differences while ignoring the many similarities of two different things is a form of dishonesty.

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Why Can You Lift More On Flat Bench Press Than On Incline?

Although you may come across a lifter, once in a while, who is stronger on incline bench press than flat bench, most of the time the regular flat bench press is stronger. Why is this?

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I Get Why You Want a Shortcut to A Big Lift

I would not try to mislead you with an article title, so I want to start by qualifying the title of this one. I do not claim to understand all the reasons why someone would be attracted to shortcut methods for getting a big deadlift or squat, and then end up wasting a lot of time on magic bullets that don't work. But, if your goal is a big lift, then I GET YOU!

And I while I have labored, preached, cajoled, and done everything else I could think of on these pages to dissuade people from taking such blind alleys, one thing I've never done is judged my readers. We want the same things. I'd rather take you out for a few beers than judge you for your mistakes. I've been misguided in the past, much more so than I'd like to admit.

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Is Getting Stronger All About How Much Weight You're Lifting?

Why, yes! The popular entertainment site Buzzfeed loves to feature list articles where various 'experts' are asked questions. This probably actually means that the author simply features isolated quotes from their online articles, and pretends they interviewed a dozen people for one list article. In one such article, '18 Fitness Myths That Need To Be Stopped Immediately' I came across a gem.

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You Can't Isolate a Muscle, But Does it Matter?

A favorite phrase of well-informed personal trainers, when asked how to isolate a certain muscle, is "you can't isolate a muscle."

Technically, it is true. Muscles never truly work in isolation. For instance, even during an exercise like preacher curls, which seems like it completely isolates the biceps, there are other muscles at work. The primary movement in any biceps curl is elbow flexion. Although you may focus on the biceps brachii, there are two other muscles at work with the biceps to flex the elbow, the brachialis and brachioradialis. In fact, some folks may inform you that the brachialis is the prime mover and not the biceps, since the brachialis is the only one which is a pure elbow flexor.

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Humans Were not Meant to Run Long Distances?

Whenever you hear a fitness professional talk about what humans were "meant" to do, your bullshit meter should be pinging. Online fitness gurus love to vomit forth all sorts of hypotheses about what the human body was designed to do. And, when I say hypotheses, I mean uneducated, ignorant guesses. Those who place a lot of emphasis on lifting weights love to tell people that running is bad for you and will ruin your joints. One of their arguments tends to be that we were not "designed" for long-distance running. For example, an article in Breaking Muscle, supposedly busting fitness myths, quotes none other than Charles Poliquin, saying "Humans are meant to either sprint or walk long distances."

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Frequency is Not the Key to Success in Muscle Gaining?

On Quora recently, a fellow asked that most typical question "what is the best way for me to gain muscle without becoming a gym rat."

What this fellow wanted to know was, basically, what was the minimum he'd need to do. He didn't want to be married to the gym. You can't really give a once size fits all answer to this question but one Quora responder did:

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