Fabrications of the Fitness Industry
Welcome to the blog; it’s great to have you here. Thanks for taking the time to enjoy the site and clicking on my stuff; I promise to give some useful tips and advice for your overall fitness and health.
With that said, let’s get into it. The reason I’ve decided on this topic for my debut article is because of how messed up the fitness industry really is. If you’ve tried working out, monitoring nutrition, or searching up basic fitness advice online, you’ve likely already seen how many different schools of thought are encased within the industry, and how most (if not all) conflict with each other’s views.
If you don’t believe me, let me ask you: should you lift heavy, or lift light? A quick google search shows numerous articles promoting the benefits for both methods. It can easily get confusing for newcomers to the fitness scene who are probably scratching their heads wondering which advice to follow.
Before I get into the specific facades of the fitness industry, maybe I should talk about who I am and how I got started with personal fitness in the first place.
How I got started with personal fitness and training
I started caring about nutrition and physique at around age 16. Back then, I didn’t really know what I was doing; I was just trying not to eat and do as much physical exercise as possible. I didn’t know what hypertrophy was. I didn’t even know what calories were. I was just blindly hoping that I’d shed some fat and look good, especially after putting on a lot of weight in my first two years at high school.
Fast forward to today, I’m tracking calories and macronutrients. I’m focusing on strengthening the weaker, forgotten muscles that contribute to a healthy frame, but are ignored by most of the fitness industry. And I consistently balance training and fitness with my university life at Richard Ivey.
It’s tough, but achievable, and absolutely manageable.
But anyways, enough about me. Like I said, there’s a lot of confusion about dieting and weightlifting with most of the population. So let’s dispel a few common myths thrown around when it comes to personal health. But first, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same type of training…
Casual Aesthetic Bodybuilding
This is the type of training that most people in the gym are pursuing (usually without knowing it). It’s training for personal aesthetic and for (some) functionality benefits; not to enter competitions, or become an Olympic athlete. Simply put, it’s training to look better: whether it be trying to shred some fat, or put on some muscle. This is the type of training you’d want to pursue if you’re a newcomer at the gym.
Casual aesthetic bodybuilding focuses a lot more on safety, form, and simplicity. So what does that mean? It means complicated gimmicks like oxygen masks, smelling salts, and etc. aren’t necessary. Just stick to performing the simple but effective lifts with proper form, and the results usually come. Don’t get turned off by the, “Casual” part; it just signifies that you’re not training for anything specific. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be training hard.
Now that we’re in the mindset of the casual aesthetic bodybuilder, let’s throw away some ineffective and possibly dangerous fitness habits.
Lifting TOO heavy is definitely going to break something…
The most common mistake I see at the gym are people lifting way too for their own good. As in, people trying to test out what their 1-Rep Max (1RM) is. Let’s be clear: your 1RM is a metric you calculate; not test. There are websites that’ll help you calculate your 1RM based on your personal lifting ability; but for the casual aesthetic bodybuilder, it’s never something you should actually try for yourself. It’s just meant to be a metric for tracking strength progress over time.
So then what’s the heaviest you should be lifting? The good rule of thumb is to try and never lift a weight that you can’t lift for at least 4 reps in a single set. Any heavier, and you’re likely putting incredible strain and tension on your poor muscles. Again, we’re following the perspective and goals of a casual aesthetic bodybuilder; powerlifters might pull 1RMs on the regular, but they adapt their training and body for that lifestyle.
…And lifting TOO light might not get you to hypertrophy
On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re pushing weights and hitting 15-20 reps with no real sign of fatigue, you’re going too light. Fatigue is the neuromuscular failure that occurs when the surviving fibres in your body aren’t sufficient enough to provide enough force. As you lift weights in a single set, your muscle fibres tear, and as you continue to finish the set, there’s a smaller amount of working fibres that your neuromuscular system is able to call on to produce force. Fibre tears are integral to reaching hypertrophy; they rebuild themselves stronger than before through natural body processes and contribute to the muscular physique. However, lifting too light may not result in those fibre tears, and subsequently hypertrophy.
However, lifting light isn’t something to be dismissed. Without going into too much detail, lifting light is actually required for smaller, hidden muscles that are usually forgotten in the wave of common fitness trends; common forgotten muscles like the medial head of the triceps, or the 4 muscles that make up the rotator cuff. I’ll go into the benefits of lifting light in a future post.
DON’T buy into the gimmicks of “special diets”
I’m going to tell you the biggest fact no one is talking about:
There is no, “one special diet-solution” that’ll shred your fat, or bulk you up incredibly.
No one EVER says this. Why? Because the fitness industry thrives on convincing people that a certain diet/workout program is the ONLY correct way to achieving all their fitness goals. That’s how they make their money; so why would anyone tell the truth?
Let’s look at Kinobody as an example. Kinobody (the brainchild of the 24 year-old Gregory O’ Gallagher) is a fitness program/lifestyle plan that Greg tries to sell as the solution to all your fitness and aesthetic-physique desires. Whether it actually works or not, is a different story. The point is, Greg’s main selling technique to his programs is using, “Intermittent Fasting”. Basically, IF is restricting yourself to a smaller window of time to consume calories throughout the day; the rest of the time you’re awake, you’re fasting. He claims it’ll get you shredded with that, “Greek God” body you’ve always wanted.
Here’s the thing about Intermittent Fasting: it’s NOT special. It’ll work, sure. But only because the underlying concept that’s REALLY at work is a Caloric Deficit. As in, you’re eating less calories than you’re consuming.
IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), Ketogenic, IF; all these diets are gimmicks for the average person just trying to lose fat because they promise some special technique or adaptation you have to make that’ll (suddenly) get you shredded.
Don’t buy into it.
The important thing is that the diet that works the best is the diet that works for you and your lifestyle. I’ll cover nutrition diets in a future post.
Where to from here?
You’ve already read a few places in this article where I’ve promised to continue in detail in a future post. From here, I’m looking to go over common weightlifting misconceptions, mindsets at the commercial gym, achieving personal goals, diet reviews, and more.
Basically, I want to take a lot of the fluff and deceit out that’s been spoon-fed to a lot of people just trying to learn how to look better for themselves. With fitness being an emerging trend and profitable industry (8.4% CAGR of revenue in the industry as a whole predicted for 2018-2022), more people are becoming a part of that industry; either as an instructor, or a practiser, or both. Which means finally, the Canadian culture has shifted its paradigm to become more health-centric and promote regular physical activity and nutrition. So now more than ever, people need to be able to differentiate the honest information from the deceptive marketing tactics intended to just sell, sell, sell.