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Another holiday season is upon us.  I don’t know about you, but I am not really sure where 2013 went.  This year, as they are want to do, just seemed to fly by.  And just like the many years that proceeded it there were some high points and some low points.  We all set goals of one kind or another.  Hopefully you were able to attain some of those goals, while 2014 gives us a chance to refocus on those that remain just out of reach.

With that being said another Festivus is finally here.  Festivus as I am sure you know Soccer Slots
is a Latin word that derives from festus “joyous; holiday, feast day”.  It is a holiday for those of us that hate all the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas.  It truly is a Festivus for the rest of us.  Thankfully the Festivus pole requires no decoration.  Without the distraction of tinsel, as I retrieved the pole from the crawl space I was able to prepare myself for one of my favorite parts of Festivus; the airing of the grievances.  The truth is I got a LOT of problems with the fitness industry, and now you’re gonna hear about them

The Airing of Grievances Fitness Edition

  • Bodybuilding Magazines
  • Claiming *Insert Compound Movement* is bad for *Body part*
  • Skipping Leg Day
  • Imaginary Lat Syndrome
  • Planet Fitness
  • Personal Trainers
  • Cardio Bunnies
  • The True Strength Argument
  • Fitness Dogma
  • BEAST MODE

Bodybuilding Magazines – It’s funny, a couple decades ago I used to read Ironman and Flex religiously.  In days before the Internetz that was about the only way to get training information besides just asking the big dude at the gym what he did.  In fact I have kept those mags for reference to this day.  There are still occasions when I will come across a question, and remember a 1992 article that I need to look up.

Obviously back then there were supplement ads in each edition.  The purpose of a magazine is to make money.  But it doesn’t even compare to today’s incarnations.  I admit that I never actually BUY the mags now.  However, when I am killing time in a store I will check them out.  From what I can tell they all should be named “Supplement Catalog and False Promises”.  Seriously every single article only serves to convince that this magic supplement is the solution to your problem.  Thinking that Jay Cutler got HUGE off Celltech is just hilariously sad.  The really sad part is that it must work, because they keep doing it.  So someone is buying that nonsense.

airing of grievances

Claiming *Insert Compound Movement* is bad for *Body part* – This one admittedly drives me crazy.  How any times have you heard “Squats are bad for your knees…”,”Overhead press will ruin your shoulders…”, “Deadlifting is bad for your back…”, “Benching is bad for your shoulders too…”.  It really is hard to take these people seriously.  Hearing someone say something along those lines is always a red flag that they don’t have a clue what they are doing or talking about.  The truth is exercises are as safe or as dangerous as you make them.  The big compound movements have stood the test of time, and proven to be the most effective way to build strength and size.  People that use the “bad for you” excuse are doing just that; making an excuse.  What they should say is “I usually do *Insert Compound Movement* and it hurts my *Bodypart*”.  Or they could just say “I don’t like doing _____ and this is how I justify it.”  What is even worse is when they try to convince YOU to avoid doing these movement.  It’s almost like a drunk trying to convince you to have a drink with them so they feel better about their choices.

Skipping Leg Day – This one is just an extension of the previous grievance.  Some people take it to an entire new level when it comes to exercise avoidance.  And the excuses they use are even worse, such as “I don’t wanna get too big…”.  It would piss me off if I didn’t find it so sad.  Do leg training suck? Yes!  Should skipping it (excluding any type of injury) ever be an option?  Not that I can think of.  Why would anyone want to be referred to as “Beachfront”…aka a house on stilts.  I mean unless you are a Men’s Physique competitor, and I am not even going to get started on that.  To each their own, but seriously…Board Shorts?!

ilsImaginary Lat Syndrome – This may be the most pathetic of the grievances, and yet I find it hilarious at the same time. While you have some people avoiding leg training, you have others that try to pretend that their training is produces better results than it is.  You would at least think that walking around flexing lats that aren’t there might lead to some kind of isometric training effect that would cause muscle growth.  Sadly that does not appear to be the case.

One of the funniest things I ever saw in a fitness center was a probably 5’7” kid that was about 10lbs heavier than the skeleton in my Anatomy and Physiology class.  He walked onto the floor in the middle of a full blown ILS attack.  He had on an extra medium underarmour shirt that looked painted on.  The vein is his forehead looked ready to pop and I don’t think he took a breath the entire time I saw him.  This mass monster strutted over to the chin up bar and banged out 6 impressive reps, considering the raw tonnage he was lifting, and then walked back across the floor never to be seen again.  Ever since that day I have known that SIX REPS is the magic number for chin ups.  I just want to say thank you skinny bastard for the knowledge.

Planet Fitness – This place is pretty much the epitome of everything that is wrong with the fitness industry.  They do everything they can to sabotage your results, from not allowing heavy weights to throwing pizza fuckin parties for members.  They want you to feel good about the fact that you aren’t really trying all that hard.  And the redily admit that they will kick out anyone that is too “extreme”.  Oh and by too extreme I mean anyone that wants to lift dumbbells over 50 lbs or they breathe too loudly during lifting.  I do not get why anyone would EVER train there.  However as a business model they are doing ok.  Considering that they basically convince adults to pay for the privilege of celebrating their mediocrity.  I hate Planet Fitness more than I hate poorly coached Crossfit boxes, and that is A LOT!!!

Personal Trainers – As far as grievances go, this one is one of the worst.  To be honest though, I don’t know if it is the personal trainers, or the haphazard way that people are allowed to be “certified” with that title.  Seriously almost anyone can pay a few bucks, get some bullshit cert, and say they are a trainer.  And if the certification has the right acronym attached to it then fitness centers will hire you.  Once you get your name tag and clipboard then everyone in the gym will think you know what you are talking about.  Unfortunately, that is often not the case.

Don’t get me wrong I personally know a LOT of good trainers.  However I would say on average more than 50% of PT’s are completely incompetent.  Then again what do you expect when most certification course are not hands on and teach you very little of the practical application of your “knowledge”.  What’s worse is several PT’s are horrible teachers.  Many of them are the genetically gifted where being in shape was never an issue for them.  They look good, and assume they can help others do the same.  However, when they come across a soccer mom that doesn’t have the same genetic advantages they are going to be clueless how to actually help them.  I really wish that entry into the field required more effort than it does.  Then again I guess with any profession there are good and bad examples.

Cardio Bunnies – While I will admit that there are a few cardio bunnies that are easy to look at, women that are afraid of getting “too big” both amuse me and piss me off.  I do not know how this myth continues to exist.  We have so much information at our fingertips that to be ignorant of the important of strength training and its effects on the female body is ridiculous.

This is again like the “Squats are bad for your knees” argument.  I think the “women should only do cardio” thing is kept alive by two groups.  Women who don’t want to lift or are afraid of heavy weight, and men that are intimidated by strong women.  I mean how someone wants to look and life is their choice, but it bothers me that they keep the propaganda alive to influence other women that may not know better.

The True Strength Argument –This discussion is so old and played out.  Worse than that though it is POINTLESS.  There is no such thing as “true strength”.  People argue about everything from raw vs. gear, walking squats out vs. monolifts, squat depth, range of motion, etc.  What is the point in arguing about it is what I want to know?  There never will be a definitive answer because their isn’t one.  What I do find interesting, especially in the powerlifting equipment vs raw discussion is equipped lifters don’t care.  They take advantage of technology, they lift more weight, they have fun.  Raw lifters complain about equipped lifts, but you rarely hear about equipped lifters bitching about raw lifters.  I find that kind of telling.  Why can’t people just accept that they are different things and live their lives?  I know I know…what fun would that be?

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Fitness Dogma – Speaking of there not being just one way to do anything, fitness dogma definitely deserves its spot on the grievances list.  Just like there is no true definition of strength, there is more than one way to accomplish your fitness goals.  This even happens in the strength training community.  Which is better?  5/3/1, Westside, Cube Method, 5X5?  And the answer, as so often the case is “it depends”.  Again what I don’t get about this one is why is there any arguing?  If you have a program and it works for you, CONGRATS!!  Why do you need to argue with others to get them to agree with your opinion.  It is such a waste of time when you could be spending that time getting better.

beast mode

BEAST MODE – I saved the best for last I think.  This is officially the most annoying of the grievances.  Claiming you are “going beast mode” is just lame.  The truth is if you have to tell people that what you are doing is awesome, then chances are it is NOT.  When you do things that actually are impressive people can figure that out on their own.  And what makes it worse is when people use the phrased to describe something that is impossible to be awesome at.  I mean “beastmode cardio”, are you kidding me?!

So there you have this year’s Airing of the Grievances.  Of course we all know that Festivus isn’t over until after the Feats of Strength.  In the next follow up article I will list some of the more impressive feats of strength over the past few years.  If you have some that impressed you please be sure to share in case I missed them.  And speaking of missing them, let me know if you have any of your own Grievances that you want to add to the link.  Please enjoy this holiday safely, and once again HAPPY FESTIVUS!!

happy_festivus

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Don Johnson

Head Strength Coach at Mammoth Strength
Don is the founder and Head Strength Coach at Mammoth Strength. His strength and conditioning facility specializes in small group athletic training for serious athletes from Junior High School to Professional Ranks in all sports...as well as men and women of all ages looking to shred pounds of fat and get extremely fit.

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