How to Fail at the Gym

I realize that I have not posted an article here in quite a long time.  While I still have plenty of opinions, that may or may not care about, I have been too busy with other things to bother sharing them here.  Perhaps it’s time to change that…

I was at the gym today, and was thinking the same thing that I often think while at the gym.  Before I share that thought, allow me to preface it with the following disclaimer:

I am not a “fitness guru”.  I am not a personal trainer.  I am not claiming to be an authority on anything here.  There was a time in my life when I trained heavily, and have done a lot of studying on the topic of diet and exercise, so I offer up what I do in that context.  Nothing more – nothing less.

So the thought that crossed my mind today, as it often does is that it is so sad that so many people at the gym are completely wasting their time (and money), and have no idea.  They will give up in a month or two after seeing zero results.

The really sad thing is that it is not their fault.  Gyms are in business to make money… as are the “fitness gurus”.  It is in their best interest to keep people coming to the gym, or doing their workouts for an hour or more, 5 days a week.  The kicker is that, if you do that, you will actually see some results… but it is a slow and painful process.

Personal trainers are as much to blame as anyone else.  They work for, or at least have to pay dues to, the gyms.  Not only that, but when people go to personal trainers to “trim” this, or “tone” that, they want to be taught the latest “ab blaster” routine or how to “shred” their biceps, or whatever it is the media is glorifying at the moment.

If I was a personal trainer, I don’t care how awesome I looked, if someone came to me wanting the latest trick to getting “buns of steel”, and I told them the truth (which is really NOT what they want to hear), I will lose that client to the guy that says he is going to give them what they want.  If I want to have clients, I need to perpetuate the hype.

So, do you want to know the truth?  Let me start with what doesn’t work.  If you are trying to “get in shape” or “trim” or “tone”, the following things are a complete waste of time, unless you already have plenty of lean muscle (meaning you can bench press 1.5x your body weight, can deadlift 2x your body weight, and can do at least 3 sets of 10 pull-ups with impeccable form).

  • Long stretches of “cardio” – “Cardio”, meaning walking or running on a treadmill or elliptical for an hour will help you do 1 thing… run (or walk) longer.  Yes, it gets your heart rate up for a bit, and gets the blood flowing, so you burn a few calories, but I will discuss in another article why there are much better ways to spend your time (unless, of course, you want to train to run longer).
  • Isolation exercises – These include curls, cable pull-downs, that hip abductor machine, and especially every “ab” exercise out there.
  • Anything with light weights – light weights does not “tone”, and working with light weights does not burn many calories, nor does it make you “stronger”.

So, does that sound like I have covered a lot of what you are doing?  If so, you should read my next article.  If you think I am wrong about any of this, as usual, I encourage you to comment.  Keep in mind, however, my “opinions” in this case, are based on science and human physiology, so if you want to argue these facts, please bring evidence.

As always, my name is Steve, and that is my $0.02.

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