I would like to talk about the popular buzz words that are used to fool sincere fitness enthusiast today. These buzz words are genius to say the least. They are catchy and they give you a sense of accomplishment as soon as you hear them. But what are they really saying? What leaps and connections do they really cause your brain to subconsciously make?
I have been a victim of many in my pursuit of fitness and strength. The two major flaws with these catchy words are:
1. It directs you towards the opposite of periodization. You need to change it up to stay effective. The buzzword tells you this is the answer to everything, consequently we follow that and that alone. The body is amazingly adaptive. It will adapt (known as results, ie. building muscle to do the action, losing weight so the action is easier) but without a new stimulus, it will plateau. You will even digress if prolonged for too long.
2. It puts the focus of your success on that new word. That principle is the most important aspect of your training now. What if this principle fails? What if it works for a time and then you ascend past what this principle can offer? What then?
I would like to focus on reason 2. The main fallacy with grabbing onto to that buzzword and focusing it as the most important part is that YOU are actually the most important aspect of your training. The intensity that YOU put into it. Any program will be greater not with a buzzword, but with ol’ fashioned hard work. Intensity. Simply put, giving it everything you got. You might say “Isn’t intensity a buzzword?” Not at all. You clearly now the definition of this word. It can be applied to any protocol, any program, anything at any time. These buzzwords are vague, mysterious, and they convince you they are the key to your success without even knowing the meaning of the word. You get just enough information to inform you of how much you don’t know. Let me use an example.
Muscle confusion. Now I admit this does not violate Reason 1 and that is what makes it so sneaky. Made very popular by Tony Hortan. What is muscle confusion? While after watching an hour long infomercial on p90x you can tell someone it’s better than working out regularly. You can tell someone it’s what you and they are missing and that is why you do not have the strength/size/definition you have worked so hard to attain. You can even get technical and tell someone it is introducing a different stimulus to your body each time you work out so it does not adapt to one set stimulus. But can you tell them why? Can you tell them how to do it? Can you create a program using this principle yourself? No you were told just enough to realize that you don’t really know anything about it. You were told just enough to be convinced it works, and you need to pay ridiculous amounts of money for this person to give you the answer.
These words are also comforting. And paying them for this comfort, is even more comforting. You are told that the only reason your previous program did not yield the results you wanted is because you did not know this buzz word. In our example, muscle confusion. It’s not that anything was wrong with your strength training (ie. your dedication, your effort, your diet, etc) except, you guessed it, you simply did not know about this key word! After you pay the price and get the “magic” definition you will yield boundless success. Unfortunately this rarely, if ever happens. Ask yourself, is this one word worth the price of the program? While many would say no, I would not be surprised if this is the buzzword that has sold so many on it.
So what is muscle confusion? It’s very very simple. It’s periodization. Training heavy to activate every motor unit your muscle has in a low rep set. Then training lighter to lift faster and more explosively. This can be done is blocks of weeks, 4 weeks heavy 4 light/explosive. Or it can be done daily, ex. Monday heavy and Friday lighter/explosive. And that is really it. Is there some magic program to follow that will yield more results than another? Not that I have found. There are some lifts that would better than others, and there are some combinations that would be better than others. But the main factor is YOU. Train as intense as you can and you will yield amazing results with anything.
I personally yield to one style of training over all others. I chose my goals and look for real world examples that excelled at these. For me it’s a boxer. Their blend of strength and conditioning represents the challenges I crave and thrive on. I research what lifts, style of running and everything else that comprises a workout regime are better for the boxer and I apply intensity to them. Briefly sticking with this example watch a boxing match and you see one person who can go full speed for 10 rounds and the loser. Do you think they did totally opposite routines? I would bet money there were routines were so similar you have to look closely to see differences. So why did one fail and one excel? I believe it’s the intensity, dedication and flat out hard work applied to the program. I know there are those who yield towards a total opposite style of training than myself, they chose their goals, found a real world example that excels at them and researched just as I did, yet we both excel and continue to see results, reach our goals and set higher ones. Why? We both bring incredible intensity to our programs. We put in HARD work, we push through the pain of fatigue. If you do need a buzz word (even though I previously said it was not and still believe it is not) “Intensity” is it. And you do not need to pay anyone to know what that is. You don’t need any program created for you to make sure you are applying it correctly. You will know when you are and when you are not using this principle.
So what are these red flags?
1. A new buzzword repeated over and over.
2. It is presented as the cure all.
3. It makes you feel like this is the ONLY thing that was missing from your previous endeavors.
4. You are told just enough about it to realize you know nothing about it.
5. You are then told, this secret, this “magic”, this answer can totally be yours and your fitness goals and dreams will come true, and you will look better than you ever thought possible, you won’t even need to put in that hard of work, it basically does everything itself, and we tell you everything about, show you how to use it and be with you every step of the way, now all we need is your credit card number.